Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Forgive but can you Forget?

“I, I am he
        who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
        and I will not remember your sins."
(Isaiah 43:25 ESV)

Does an omniscient, all-knowing God really forget your sins? Is there something that the Uncreated God of the universe has to learn about me? Is there something about me I can tell Him that has slipped His mind? That's hard to fathom. God knows everything there is to know.

This past week was full of doctors appointments for Allie, new school interviews, and communication with the San Francisco district attorney's office. These provide plenty of opportunity to remember horrific crimes against our innocent little girl.

Allie is our biological granddaughter, my daughter's daughter, who we've adopted. A little over three years ago, her biological father abused her by shaking and squeezing her until she quit breathing. Paramedics "bagged" her forcing air into her lungs all the way to the hospital where she was put on artificial breathing apparatus. Upon initial examination, it was discovered that Allie had three broken bones all in different stages of healing. Her father confessed he had been abusing her for over three months, ever since my daughter and Allie moved into his apartment in San Francisco's Tenderloin district. Allie remained on a breathing machine for seven of the ten days she was in a coma. She suffered moderate to severe brain damage and has cerebral palsy and quadriplegia as a result.

Child Protective Services in San Francisco was prepared to put Allie into the foster care system once she was discharged from the hospital which was to be eight weeks later. My wife and I wanted to be the ones she was released to, but in order for that to happen, we had to be in California. I resigned from my job as an assistant pastor, left my house in the care of my 18 year old son, and moved from Florida to California so the Charming and Beautiful Susan and I could become foster parents and then adopt Allie.

The entire world flipped upside down for us. Our daughter was distraught over her daughter's injuries, the betrayal of her partner, and the fact that the City of San Francisco terminated her parental rights. She wasn't allowed to stay under the same roof with Allie so she couldn't live with us and ended up homeless in her post-traumatic state. We were three thousand miles from home and friends with a hopelessly disabled child we had to learn to care for. We were in mourning and shock. Our heads were swimming.

But, somehow, we adopted a posture of forgiveness toward the young man that put all of this chaos in motion. He has not asked for it, but this is our attitude. We found it impossible to focus on Allie and each others needs while harboring bitterness or working through fantasies of revenge. Our marriage suffered until we made a conscious decision to forgive and began to actively pray for the repair of not only our broken lives, but also his. We decided not to relate to him as a criminal, but as a damaged human being much like us.

It doesn't mean that we don't have pain in our situation. And, so, forgiveness isn't a one time event. We have to forgive over and over and over because our wounds hurt so often.

And forgiveness doesn't mean that justice is overlooked. Especially in light of his apparent legal strategy to suppress his confession. However, We pray that over the course of time, he'll meet true forgiveness at the foot of the cross. We also pray that he'll own his behavior.

But if he doesn't own it, he can't get better, he can't heal, and he can't change. He'll be stuck.

God didn't forget what I did yesterday. But if I say about my offences what He says about them, and turn away from them, He doesn't deal with me like I'm a sinner. He treats me like a son.

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