When Forgiveness Doesn’t Make Sense
This is a tough article for me to write. I understand forgiveness, and I appreciate it when I need it personally. However, it usually only sounds easy until you have to do it.
When I was a teenager, school shootings were not something we were afraid of. We were not afraid because the world around us felt kind, and for the most part, seemed safe. I remember being part of lockdown drills during those days and eating our snacks while we sat laughing beneath our desks. We did not conduct ourselves this way out of disrespect, but simply because we believed with all our little, innocent hearts that nothing like that would ever, ever, ever happen.
Then time went by. We grew bigger, and so did hatred and sin. I remember where I was when the Sandy Hook tragedy took place. I was in college and I was shaken to my core. How could anyone stoop to such a level as to take the lives of sweet, guiltless tiny ones? It seemed unfathomable.
Years later, I became an educator. During my first year with a name badge and a summer vacation in sight, things took an even darker turn. No longer were teachers simply showing students how to stand in a line, but now we were at risk for being in a line of fire. In February of 2018, I was working at a school just miles from Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida. It was around dismissal time when we got word of an active shooter. All the local schools sprang into action. We did not know where the person was, or many details about the situation. After some time, we got the all-clear to leave my school- but we drove straight through the war zone.
I watched the helicopters swarm over me as I sat in hours of traffic. Ambulances, police cars, emergency vehicles, and worried parents shook my car as they drove by with speeds that were illegally fast. I was scared and I was sad. The situation was already heartbreaking, but when it strikes so close to home, it hits a little deeper.
Walking my students to and from the class was no longer just getting them from one place to the next, it became an active game of where would I hide these kids and “can we run all the way to the fence if something happened? Every lunch period, every time we were in an open field, was filled with anxiety.
We heard alarms go off a few times, to which we had to follow all the protocols. We no longer knew if the sirens were practice or the real deal. We got everyone to sit as normal as they could on the floor behind walls, and we all always hoped to God it was just a drill. The half-eaten lunches and overturned silver and blue chairs sat silent as we all did, as we awaited freedom. Things would always be different now.
It was just last year that Nicholas Cruz pled guilty for taking the lives of seventeen people that Valentine’s Day. I watched his trial and I will admit, it was difficult. He was repentant, but people’s lives were still destroyed. As confusing as it was, my heart hurt for both parties. One of the fathers of a sweet teenage girl reacted in anger. He would not accept Cruz’s apology. In my flesh, I would not have either. It’s true that anger is sadness and hurt that have nowhere to go. He will never get his little girl back, but holding on to hate for her killer would not make the pain go away.
So what can we do when forgiveness makes absolutely no sense, and the offender certainly does not deserve it? How are you supposed to react when you are so betrayed, so slandered, so hurt and so angry that you feel you can never let it go? Put yourself in the shoes of this father. Could you forgive that grave of a sin? I don’t know how, but Jesus did and does, and we are to mirror our lives to His. We are to forgive, even in the harshest of emotional climates. I get it, it is beyond comprehension. I say this from experience.
Friend, I have been there. I know what it feels like to have your world completely altered and shattered by people you love. Forgiving that person does not excuse their wrong, or even make all your sorrow subside. However, forgiving them frees you, and that is a beautiful feeling. I stand with you as you navigate whatever your pain looks like, but I plead with you to forgive, so you can heal and move forward.
Rachel is a lover of travel, nachos, and the gospel. She is a graduate of Urshan College and will most likely always call it Gateway. She recently graduated with her master’s degree in counseling and human services, with an emphasis in trauma. She is currently serving at The Pentecostals of Cooper City in South Florida.