Is it reasonable to love someone in spite of anything? But then, again, does it always make sense to forgive, regardless of the offense or consequences? For instance, back in my first years working in an emergency room as an orderly, I held a little girl who should have been a toddler, but couldn’t walk. All of the bones in her extremities had been broken, at least once, and left to heal without resetting. Would you forgive those people who abused that child?
I knew it as frighteningly easy to discover love and pain for that little girl as I held her while the doctor, nurse and social services decided on their next step. At the time, I knew no sense of forgiveness toward those who harmed that child. By holding her, I discovered a direction love can take when confronted in extremes.
Keeping with the couple, who abused that little girl, let’s push on to forgiving them. By doing so, do you see it as necessary to forego their suffering any punishment? Early on, all I saw, as a clinician caught up in several cases like this, was an utter division. Either the abusers were totally and forever removed or things were dropped and the kids left in those homes. In my eyes both moves were the cause of prolonged problems.
Let me shift back to making it personal by asking whether you’d let that couple into your home? Would you then hide your knowing what they did or would you insist on making it obvious? Could you both let those people into your place for dinner, expecting them to bring that severely abused child with them? In so doing, are you forgiving or playing that social game of pretending to know nothing? But then, again, would they come into your place?
Pushing further, would you, by forgiving them, make sure they suffered no jail time, treatment or any other fashion of dealing with what they had done? On the other hand, I guess that by forgiving anyone, including myself, I am loving that person. So then, by forgiving and so loving those people how do you deal with the abuse they did?
I now have to push further. A friend I have known since the late 80’s or early 90’s, under the duress of his wife kicking him out of the house, accidentally hinted at his history of sexually abusing his daughters. Put quickly and simply he and I are now 10 or so years down the road from his spilling that information to me. The next morning I sent the cops after him because of my being concerned about his potentially going homicidal/suicidal. From that point until late last year he was in the state prison.
He is now out and in-spite of my becoming the first stepping stone toward his 8 years in the state pen, he and I are still friends. While I know what he did and actually was that first step that took him to prison. My explanation of why, I sent the cops to pick him up, stopped the proceedings and the judge pronounced him guilty.
It took a couple of years, but he and I renewed friendship soon before he was sent to prison and have remained active friends. We talk several times a week and when I’m in metro Denver we have coffee or a meal. I have forgiven him and still held him responsible. By doing so, I never stepped away, regardless of his early refusal to be a friend.