being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus
Never Beyond: On Forgiving Absent Parents
This post is a response to the Never Beyond poster series from People of the Second Chance. The question: Who would you forgive?
All week I’m posting on forgiveness, grace, and second chances. Join me?
If you don’t know who she is, I’d be surprised. Her trial was one of the most highly televised trials in our country’s history. Twitter and Facebook allowed for to-the-minute updates about testimonies, and ultimately her verdict. I barely followed the trial. I was on vacation when I heard she was not guilty. BUT I heard about her. I knew the gist of the case. I understood why people were so angry when she received a verdict of NOT GUILTY.
The trial revolved around her lying, her excessive partying, the absence of remorse that her daughter was missing, and then evidence showing that she killed her own child.
The prosecution could not prove to a jury that she did it beyond a shadow of a doubt.
So, today, she walks free.
A lot of people are mad about that.
When I consider Casey Anthony, grace, and second chances, I’m forced to reconcile my opinions about absent parents.
You know, the ones who left. The ones who checked out emotionally. The ones who’ve shrugged their responsibilities and expected someone else to pick up the slack. Even the one who the entire world just “knows” killed her own daughter.
I believe parenting is one of the highest responsibilities we as humans can have. We are supposed to love our children. Protect them. Give them the best that we can give. I take my responsibility very seriously.
I’ve known a few absent parents in my day. I don’t like them.
If you know me at all, if you’ve spent any time with me fact to face, you know about one in particular. You know how I feel about her, about how she acts, about what she did, about who she is.
If you don’t know me personally, let’s just say that my opinion of this particular person is low. I’ve yelled at her like I’ve never yelled at another human being. I’ve said things to her and about her I never thought I would say. I find her to be the worst brand of parent. I have placed at the same level others have placed Casey Anthony. Without classifying it as such, I’d say that if I were to hate another person, how I feel about her is as close to hate as I can get.
Those are not words of a person redeemed by grace.
The truth is that a person who embraces grace should never feel that way about another human being. A person who embraces grace loves. A person who embraces grace forgives.
But for this particular woman, I’ve drawn the line in the sand. I’ve put her into a box labeled, “unforgivable” thrown it on some random storage shelf in the back of my mind and tried to forget all the horrible things that transpired in our dealings with each other.
I put her in that box because it’s easier to focus on all her faults than to accept my own blame. It’s easier to focus on how much I think of the awful things she did than to own up to my own sin. It’s easier to nitpick at all her splinters and attempt to hold them up to my plank and say, “See! She’s so much worse than I am.”
But when I think about People of the Second Chance, when I think about Never Beyond, when I think about Casey Anthony, I’m wondering if it’s time to get that box back out, sort through every single heart-wrenching reality, accept what happened, forgive her, forgive myself, and move on.
I’m not sure how I’m supposed to do that. I’m still very mad and hurt by everything that happened.
I still wear it on my sleeve like a combat badge because I want the world to see how I was wounded in the battle, but I still survived the war.
I want people to agree with me, to tell me I’m in the right, that it’s ok to still be mad.
I want to give up on this woman who I consider to be as bad as everyone thinks Casey Anthony is.
But that’s not what grace looks like, does it?
God hasn’t given up on me. God hasn’t given up on Casey Anthony. And God hasn’t given up on the woman at whom I can’t seem to stop pointing my finger.
I have held onto this anger and it has become a millstone around my neck. I’ve fallen further and further into the depths of my own self-righteousness. I’m drowning myself in my own bitterness and self-pity. To hold on to this is to dig my own grave.
My duty isn’t to judge and evaluate every single action, weighing it against some high moral code that I myself can’t even reach. My job, no my privilege, is to forgive. Not once. Not twice. But seventy time seven. To remember what happened, to confess it, to lay it down at the cross, and realize that everything that happened is cancelled debt.
Cancelled debt. Paid for. Made new. Whole. Restored. Reconciled. Renewed. Holy and blameless in His sight.
That’s what forgiveness looks like. That’s what grace makes us.
Both of us.
Her AND Me.
Who is your unforgivable person? What would it look like if you forgave?