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Forgiveness

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October 3, 2007 by Stephen

Yesterday was the anniversary of the schoolhouse shooting that resulted in the deaths of five Amish girls and the gunman in Nickel Mines, PA. After the incident, the Amish community offered forgiveness for the shooter and his family. USA Today‘s Kate Naseef talked with Steve Nolt, a co-author of the book Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy, in an interview about what America could learn from the Amish. We can learn a lot.

The Amish understanding of forgiveness is simple and yet complex. Simply put, to receive God’s forgiveness is dependent upon extending forgiveness to others. More complex is the understanding of forgiveness being a long process – one that is difficult, painful, takes time, and can only happen through God’s grace. The Amish begin with expressing their intention to forgive, with the faith that the emotional forgiveness will follow over time. Blame is out of the equation. What else can we learn? Nolt answers this question well:

Even though forgiveness is a complicated and difficult thing, if we approach it with the support of other people — the Amish do everything in community, including their grieving — and if we don’t feel like we have to have all the emotions sorted out before we extend compassion, the road to forgiveness is easier. Reaching out in compassion to others in the faith that the difficult emotional work will follow, I think, is one of the things that they demonstrate.

In our world today, religion is so often used as a force for division, and here is an example of religion being used for compassion and healing.

This idea of forgiveness has been central to the Amish faith for many years. Instances of the Amish forgiving others before and after this tragedy are readily known and they will continue to forgive others who cause them harm. The real question for us is are we willing to take the necessary steps to make the road to forgiveness easier? Can we answer the question that is the title to the interview as found in the paper, “How can the Amish forgive what seems unforgivable?”

Click here for a follow-up article about how the community is doing now.

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3 thoughts on “Forgiveness

  1. Josh says:

    good post Stephen. powerful forgiveness stuff….

    thanks for the links to the articles.

    see you in a couple of hours.

  2. Tom says:

    thanks man…it seems to have forgiveness in our churches we may want to practice confession too.

  3. Joel B. says:

    Thanks for your contribution to my blog, Stephen! Keep ’em coming!

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