Finding Forgiveness

Finding forgiveness for someone who is hurt, the victims, or the needy is easy. You see a hurt child, a victim of rape, a person who has been done wrong is often not an issue. Our hearts break and we shed tears. Victims of natural disasters find help. But the trick is finding compassion and forgiveness for those who have done wrong, those who have hurt others, those who do “wrong” in others eyes.

Working with kids who have been neglected and abused are easy to care about. They have done nothing to deserve their treatment. To me it is easy to care, easy to want to help. What is not so easy is to forgive or help the people who abused them. The ones who hurt them. It makes me angry at them. I want them to hurt as much as the kids they abused. But is that really right? Is that the way we are suppose to be? Finding hate and anger is easy. But true compassion is learning how to forgive and help those that we may not think deserve it. Those who we don’t think are worthy of our help or compassion.

When I was younger, many years ago, I was raped at gun point. It was a random stranger who pulled a gun on me in a parking lot. I was hurt, angry, and wanted justice. I healed, I moved on, but someone asked me “Do you forgive him?” I was like – hell no. He should be hanged, have his bits chopped of, pay for what he did. For years, I didn’t think about it. I didn’t think about forgiving him. I didn’t walk around with it on my mind every day. I didn’t brood or hate him every day. But I didn’t forgive him or understand him. I didn’t want to. He was bad, he hurt me, I hated him.

What I didn’t think about was him as a person. What happened in his life to make him do something like that? Why would he go out and hurt others. Why do these parents abuse their kids? Why cause pain? There is an answer. Maybe not one we would see as a good reason. Because I truly believe there is no good reason ever to hurt others. But there are reasons. Abusers are often victims of abuse themselves. Many who hurt others have been hurt themselves. Without knowing what lead up to their actions, we have no way of knowing why they did it or do it. And how do we know for certain that if put in the same situation, we wouldn’t do the same exact thing.

Now, I know that many people are like me and think “NEVER! No matter what I wouldn’t do that”. But we really don’t know that. We haven’t walked their path. There have been many books and movies that play out the theme of what would happen if the roles are reversed. Trading Places is an old movie that shows what would happen if a rich man and a poor man traded places. The Stanford Prison Experiment showed how quickly people can become cruel and violent. So we really don’t know what we would do given the right circumstances.

So, while I sometimes struggle with anger at the people who hurt the kids I work with, I think it is just as important to find compassion and forgiveness for those who hurt others as well as those who are hurt. After all, taking the easy path is often not the best path. It’s easy to hate and judge. The tough part is when you learn to love your enemy and forgive those who you don’t want to forgive.

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