The Hiding Place and Forgiveness
I just finished reading "The Hiding Place", by Corrie Ten Boom. (Yes, I know that I just blogged about reading 'Mormon Enigma', which I'm still reading. I just took a break from the history to read "The Hiding Place", and well, I couldn't put it down and basically read it in 2 days. Sorry. I'm back to Emma now, I promise!) The Wiz told me it was one of those books that can change your life. I think she's right. For those of you who are not familiar with this book, a brief synopsis: A Dutch family is arrested for hiding Jews during WWII, and 2 sisters are eventually sent to a concentration camp. Through a series of small miracles, they are able to have a bible in their camp, and read from it every night. They preach the Word of God while they are living in Hell. And they feel God's love even as they are treated with hate. They bless those who curse them. They forgive those who imprisoned and tortured them, although the author admits that this was almost the one thing she could not do. When one of her guards seeks her out and asks her forgiveness for his horrid treatment of her, she falters. She manages it, though, and it is a powerful scene in the book. So, I'm thinking about all of this, and if I could have handled things that way these sisters did. Um, probably not. But I think that if I were alone, and if my life were just about me, it might be easier to be that way. But I'm not alone. My life is not just about me. I'm a mother. My life is largely about my son. It seems that it would be easier to forgive somebody if they hurt me, or even if they hurt somebody I cared deeply about, like a friend, or another family member. But if somebody tormented and tortured and ultimately murdered my child with hate, how does one forgive that? How does one tell a child who has been hurt that he has to move on, to forgive, and then also, as a mother, forgive that person too? If the hurt is slight enough, sometimes it's doable. If the hurt is deep, however, I tend to see red, and want to protect and defend my child. I imagine most mothers feel the same way. There's a story about a man who went to Iraq after Saddam Hussein was captured to survey things over there. He was led to a building which was said to house prisoners, enemies of the state. This man was told that the prison actually held only children, young people who were paying for their parent's crimes. The parents had spoken out against Saddam Hussein, so their children were then imprisoned. Sounds like an effective silencing tool to me. Oh, you won't torture me, you'll torture my kid instead? O.k., I'll keep quiet. It's not lost on me that many revolutions and massive political and social changes are started largely by radical student groups. They have less to lose, so they feel they can risk it all. And yet, forgiveness is vital to our survival as a civilized society, and Christ has told us in no uncertain terms that He expects us to forgive all. Again, seems simple enough when we are talking about just me. But again, my life is not about just me. I think to forgive somebody who has hurt a child, my child, may be the very hardest thing Christ could ever ask. I think I need to go give Jacob a hug.