Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How Far Does Forgiveness Go?

I'm sitting in our room at the Ronald House, eating a heaping plate of my mom's lasagna (don't judge me, I'm feeding two boys here), half-heartedly watching Grey's Anatomy, and thinking about forgiveness...talk about multitasking.

Here's the latest big news in Baker, and it's something that effects a huge part of our community:


The defendant, Dean, is someone I've known for years...10 years in fact, ever since I worked as a courtesy clerk at Safeway and he worked in the bakery. He was also one of the "teachers" for the young adult bible study Nathan and I were going to.

I'm trying my hardest to keep an open heart. But as someone who works with teenage girls, it's so hard. I trusted him as a spiritual teacher, as did countless teenagers. So again I ask...how far does forgiveness go? Where's the line? Or is there one?

Ever since I became a Christian, I've strongly believed that we, as humans, do not have the right to judge the hearts and souls of people around us. Only God is wise enough to do that. And I am most definitely not God. So somewhere in my heart, I need to find the ability to forgive and love. I've been struggling with this all day long and I've come to one conclusion...

I can't do it...alone.

The only way I can is through God's love.

Please keep Dean's family in your prayers, as well as all of the teenagers whose lives are being effected by this.


Anonymous said...

23--23 sex crimes? There is no forgiveness for this man, this scum who has wrecked the lives of many young girls. No therapy in the world can undo what he has done, their lives will be forever affected. Believe me, I know! Don't forgive him, forget him! How sad!

bakermom said...

Let God deal with forgiving him; you just concentrate on your new family and protecting your boys from predators like Dean.

I somewhat agree with the anonymous comment prior to mine when he/she said "Don't forgive him, forget him!" Don't waste your time. You have much, much more important things to deal with.

Your input into your boys' lives are so much more important than your input in this latest small town (yet) big-city crime.

Kate said...

I wonder what happened to him in his life to make him do such a thing...this kind of thing is (in a way) good for us since it is a wake up call to be extra careful in who we trust with our children. Prayer can get you to forgiveness, but time helps as well. I'll be praying for you guys.

Big Poppa said...

I have also known Dean for a number of years, I consider him a friend. The charges are mind-numbing. But as Christians we are supposed to love our neighbor. There is no caveat that says we should only do it when it is easy. Loving people when it is hard is what we are commanded to do. It is easy to look at this situation and judge Dean. The Lord says that judgment is His. Nowhere are we commanded or allowed to judge. Romans 2:1-4 says "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?"

I know that we have not done what Dean has done. But neither has Dean done what we have done and we have ALL fallen short. I hope that our community can rise above the urge to judge. God's grace covers us all.

Bridgete said...

I need to respond to "anonymous" by saying that 23 sex crimes means there have been 23 counts. Not 23 victims. You can have multiple counts on one victim.

Further, he has been indicted, not convicted. An indictment has a much lower evidence standard compared to a conviction. During the grand jury indictment, usually investigation is still going on, and usually neither the prosecutor nor the defense attorney has fully fleshed out their case. Some evidence may turn up that completely exonerates him.

I have a lot of issues forgiving people who have even been accused of sex crimes, but I am a student of the law and as such I cannot be the one to judge him before he's been convicted. Lindy, I commend you for wishing to forgive, especially at this early stage in the proceedings when nothing has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. And even if he is convicted, I agree that it is not our place to judge him or anyone.

Lindy said...

As usual when I write posts with harder content, I'm not sure that I completely expressed myself clearly. My struggle is not just with forgiving Dean...this whole situation has brought me face to face with my conviction that we are in no place to judge a person's heart and soul, in a very major way. It has forced me to examine whether I can walk the way that I talk, so to speak.

As for the anonymous comment...I know I can't make you do this, but if you leave that strong of an opinion on my blog, I wish you'd at least let me know who you are. Not saying that you aren't entitled to your opinion. It's just...polite.

And while the easy thing to do would be to write Dean off...like "Big Poppa" pointed out, we have all fallen short. I don't like the idea of someone writing me off when I mess up. Yes, I've never had these kind of charges leveled against me, but sin is sin is sin. Writing him off completely is the easy way out, and not biblical. So thanks, Big Poppa, for further expressing my thoughts.

And thanks, Bridgete, for your info on the law...I have to admit I was a little lost in the jargon.

Bridgete said...

You're quite welcome.

Hannah Kali said...

I have a totally different perspective on forgiveness now than I had just a month ago. Now that I've met my new classmates from around the world. We've done a survey of the academic side of forgiveness and reconciliation in class lately (it's a MA program on peace and reconciliation- and forgiveness is a big part of it!)- and one of my classmates is from Rwanda. He told the class of how his entire family was brutally murdered in front of him during the '94 crisis. He talked about how he had to forgive, as the murderers of his family still live in the neighborhood- he sees them on a daily basis. There is no way of escaping seeing them. To be able to function and live his life, he forgave them.

Now, I'm not sure I could do that. It takes bravery, courage, and a huge amount of trust. But it can be done.