One of the most life changing tenants of the Amish faith that we all can learn from is Forgiveness. Many Amish novels incorporate the Amish belief and necessity of forgiveness in the storyline. Practicing forgiveness has been one of the most important lessons I’ve learned from reading Amish novels.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
If the Lord is willing to forgive me, who am I not to extend forgiveness to others?
Do you recall the massacre at West Nichol Mines School in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania on October 2, 2006 where ten Amish schoolchildren, ages 6 – 13, were shot and five died? The shooter, Charles Carl Roberts IV, took his own life after lining the schoolchildren up and shooting them.
The same day of the shooting, the first of Charles Carl Robert’s Amish neighbors reached out to his widow, Marie, to offer forgiveness to her and her children. The Amish grandfather of one of the victims, said on that day to younger relatives, “We must not think evil of this man.”
The public at large was amazed that the Amish comforted the Roberts family hours after the shooting and extended forgiveness to them. Amish community members visited and comforted Roberts' widow, parents, and other relatives. As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, an Amish man comforted the sobbing Roberts' father for well over an hour. Approximately 30 members of the Amish community attended Roberts' funeral and invited Marie Roberts, the widow of the killer to the funeral of one of the victims. She was one of the few outsiders allowed at the funeral.
Marie Roberts wrote an open letter to her Amish neighbors thanking them for their forgiveness, grace, and mercy. She wrote, "Your love for our family has helped to provide the healing we so desperately need. Gifts you've given have touched our hearts in a way no words can describe. Your compassion has reached beyond our family, beyond our community, and is changing our world, and for this we sincerely thank you."
If these heartbroken parents of murdered children can offer forgiveness to their children’s murderer, can I offer forgiveness to people who step in front of me in line, gossip about me, those who hurt my feelings, and in all those everyday situations where I can choose forgiveness over anger and bitterness?