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May 09, 2019 772 0 Carissa Douglas
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FORGIVING THE UNFORGIVABLE

Is there an “Unforgivable” act?

We are still within Eastertide and celebrating the hope and forgiveness that came through Christ’s death and resurrection. Lingering in my mind are the stories that were all over social media prior to Lent season this year.

From the unjust attack on the Covington High School for boys, to the sad Canadian story of an amber alert that ended in the discovery of the death of an eleven year old girl.

I can’t begin to explain how much hate and ugliness surfaced even from those who were generally regarded as being “good Christians”. Accusations flew and declarations were made that certain actions are “unforgivable”! I was so discouraged by the array of obscenities and shaming, wondering, how can we profess to be bearers of Christ’s love and be so vulgar and cruel to each other? Whatever happened to ‘love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’? (Matthew 5:45)

One of the most beautiful displays of true love and forgiveness I ever witnessed was by my mother when I was nine years old.

Into the arms of Christ

My four year old little sister was hit by a car. She had been waiting for her school bus and unfortunately, became confused when the bus pulled off to the side of the road just before her bus stop. The bus was allowing traffic to pass, but my sister thought it was safe to cross. She was hit by an oncoming car whose driver did not noticed the child. She was air lifted to the hospital for sick children and later died as she was held by my mother.

My mother, in an act that still leaves me in complete awe of her, sang praises to God as she rocked my sister and handed her back into the arms of Christ.

I still miss my sister tremendously. Her death was an event that changed our lives forever. It refocused my eyes on Heaven, because it now held someone so dear to me, and it shaped my perspective. No longer could I view life the same way, as I now understood that it was fragile and unpredictable. But the event also allowed for the imprint of beautiful examples of faith and love, like that of the almost supernatural trust and surrender displayed by my mother as my sister passed away.

Excruciating Pain

One example in particular stands in defiance to the ugliness I spoke of above. It was the moment my mother met the man who had inadvertently taken my sister’s life: something that many would consider an “unforgivable” act.

The driver of the car in my sister’s accident arrived at the court house shortly before the trial for the incident. You could see the excruciating pain from the remorse he bore, as he kept his head bowed in shame. I can’t even imagine the immensity of emotions that saturated his entire being, throughout the trial. How he must have struggled at the thought of looking into the eyes of the parents of the child whose life had been taken.

Just like the Father running to meet the prodigal son when he saw him coming up the road, my mother sought out the man. She hurried over to him and wrapped her arms around him. She hugged him tightly, whispering, “It’s okay.” He broke down shaking uncontrollably, weeping as she told him that she was not angry. The only thing she held in her heart was love and forgiveness for him. She told him that my sister would not want him to be burdened with pain and guilt. She would wish him a life of joy and hope.

My mother also made sure she offered her love and forgiveness to the bus driver, who was visibly tormented by guilt.

Something Beautiful for God

I recently told my mother how much her example meant to me, especially in view of the appalling comments and interactions I keep seeing on social media from friends and acquaintances attacking each other.

She said the exchange was a gift for her too. It helped with her healing and freed her from the burden of anger and resentment. It left her with a hope that God was doing something beautiful through the tragedy.

She says she still prays for the driver to this day and knows that somehow God is working enormously in his life in spite of the devastation experienced from the accident.

Are you a light on social media? Are you someone who chooses an approach defined by charity- an attitude that affirms the inherent dignity of the other? If you must reproach, do you do so in a way that still speaks of your identity as a Christian who is truly invested in the good of the other? Are you someone who could forgive the unforgivable?

I hope to be. I want to be.

Our world desperately needs light, love, hope and mercy: not the vile assassination of the dignity of people with whom we disagree or whose actions we do not condone.

Dear God, help us to forgive all those who have hurt us, knowingly or unknowingly. Instead of grudge may our heart be filled with love and forgiveness so that our prayers for them be a blessing upon their lives. Amen.

Carissa Douglas

© is the author and illustrator of the Catholic children’s book series “Little Douglings,” which promotes the sacraments and the culture of life. She is the mother of 11 children ages 14 and younger. Be sure to check out her site at littledouglings.com where she blogs about her adventurous life with her big Catholic family and shares the humor and joy in her comic series: Holy HappyMess.

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