Hmm. That's a very forward thinking request I thought. "May I suggest to you that you send someone that has ruined your family and inflicted crippling injuries on your granddaughter happy birthday wishes with a short forgiveness note. You and he will be so happy if you do." To err is human, to forgive is divine...
Many of my friends ask me what I want to do the man that set all these things in motion. Well, the answer to that question is different on different days. Sometimes I drive around Eureka and say to myself, "Self, what are you doing here?" I feel lost and out of place. Other time I feel glad to be in the town where I grew up. Sometimes Ali cries and is an unbelievable amount of work. I feel so sad and worry that she'll not get better. But most of the time, I thank God that I get to be a daddy again no matter how things turn out in Ali's life. I just stare at her and realize that this little girl will have me tightly wrapped around her little finger. She already does. Sometimes, I'm by myself and I feel so disoriented and like I'm in a prison of sorts; definitely not living a life I'd choose. So let me put it the most positive way I can: sometimes I feel a little forgiving and some days I feel less.
And then I think, "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
So I want to forgive. I want to stand ready to forgive anyone that wrongs me.
But my theology and Jesus' teachings come in direct conflict with the way I feel and what makes sense to me.
Here's what I wrote in one email:
It would be inappropriate to extend forgiveness to somebody that has not asked for it or shown any signs of repentance. Our lives are forever altered because of this young man. We've had to move, we're separated from our kids, my daughter is a total wreck, and we've lost everything that has been home to us. This was all set in motion by this young man.
He doesn't acknowledge that he almost killed Ali. His lawyers downplay his wrong doing while implicating my daughter. This is not the behavior of someone that wants forgiveness. This is denial of wrong doing and taking responsibility for Ali's crippling injuries. When he asks us for forgiveness, we'll consider forgiving. Unaccepted or unrequested forgiveness is misapplied when there is no repentance. Thus, your request is inappropriate. (I changed the exact wording a little for our privacy)
I guess I don't know, for sure, if I'm right. I pray for the person that hurt Ali and brought so much change into our lives. Ultimately, the course of our lives is, has been, and always will be in the hands of the Lord. I honestly believe that we'll look back on this whole thing and totally recognize God's providence in our lives before, during, and after these events. And I don't wish the California penal system on anyone. Honestly. I don't. I just want Ali to get better, the adoption to go smoothly, I want my daughter to be healed emotionally and spiritually, and I want Paul to find forgiveness and newness of life in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And I stand ready to forgive. I pray that someday I can meet him face to face and extend the forgiveness he wants and needs. Until that happens, I'll pray for the Lord's protection and guidance in his life. I hope the action of praying will prepare me for the action of forgiving.