Tag Archives: forgiveness
“My name is Zachary Roberts and on Oct 2nd, 2006 my oldest brother, Charles Roberts, walked into an Amish school house in Pennsylvania where he shot and killed five young schoolgirls and injured five more before taking his own life,” said Zachary Roberts in a press release for an upcoming documentary.
Seven years after the tragedy, the Roberts family still seeks a kind of peace, as they deal with the aftermath of Charles Robert’s violence in their small, rural community. Faith has anchored all affected by the incident, and the world was amazed by the show of compassion by the Amish community as they took the path of forgiveness rather than anger, with many even coming to Charles’ funeral.
Many scars remain, as Zachary asks, “How does the mother of a mass murderer move forward in life?”
Terri Roberts, Charles and Zachary’s mother, visits Rosanna, who was paralyzed during the shooting, every week, bathing and talking to her. The surviving girls and their mothers began visiting the Roberts house a mere three months after the shooting, in an incredible demonstration of mercy and love.
Zachary Roberts wants to capture the redeeming power of forgiveness by making a documentary about the shooting and its aftermath, called “Hope – Documentary.” Though at first he sought to distance himself from the tragedy as much as possible, he now wants to share the powerful events that have transpired afterwards.
Zachary told The Huffington Post, “I know that for my mother, one of her most important things is forgiveness, and that was the virtue that the Amish expressed when this happened. I believe that was the impetus which set my mother on the path which she is now on. Forgiveness is a very powerful human choice and when exercised it can have the power to alter lives in an extreme way.”
The documentary focuses on his mother’s journey, as she “picks up the pieces after one of her son’s senseless mass murder spree and suicide, and on the very same day as the tragic incident, the Amish community decided to forgive,” according to the movie’s funding page.
How did Roberts himself get to the point where he was able to tell this personal, heart-wrenching, story? “The inspiration to make this movie was that I knew that at some point, somebody was going to approach my mother with hopes of telling her story. I guess I just felt a tremendous weight that I should be the one to do this. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I thought it would be a really good process for myself and for my family,” he said.
“I first had the idea roughly a year and a half ago, and I guess it came about after the last several years of hearing about the things that were happening in my mother’s life. It seemed like her life was transforming in an inspiring way and I saw and heard how her life was impacting others. I just decided that this was something that needed to get out, it needed a bigger audience and film has the ability to reach a large audience.”
He explained, “The documentary will focus on on my mother from the time she heard the news about her son all the way up to present day – her story keeps evolving. We will really focus on my mother’s feelings upon hearing the devastating news and how she reacted and what she thought – we will really see and understand those raw emotions.”
The team has finished shooting the initial footage and is now seeking funds to complete the production process via crowd-funding website Indiegogo.
Roberts said, ” I really wish for people to understand that no matter how bad life gets, there is a path towards being happy and enjoying life. For a mother of a mass murderer to even want to live, let alone open up her life to others to instil hope, I think is a tremendous lesson in the strength of the human spirit.”
The preacher’s Sunday sermon was Forgive Your Enemies.
Toward the end of the service, He asked his congregation, “how many of you have forgiven their enemies”?
He then repeated his question. As it was nearing lunchtime, this time about 10 percent held up their hands.
He then repeated his question again. All responded, except one small elderly lady.
“Mrs. Jones?” inquired the minister “Are you not willing to forgive your enemies?
“I don’t have any.” she replied. smiling sweetly.
“Mrs. Jones, That is very unusual. How old are you?”
“Ninety-three,” she replied.
“Oh Mrs. Jones, what a blessing and a lesson to us all you are. Would you please come down in front of this congregation and tell us all how a person can live ninety-three years and not have an enemy in the world.”
The sweet little old a lady tottered down the aisle, faced the congregation, and said “I poisoned some of them; others had fatal ‘accidents’ and anyhow I’ve outlived the rest of the old b*st**s.”
“If someone offends me, how often should I forgive them?” Peter asked Jesus. As if it were a rhetorical question, he answered for himself, “seven times.” That must have seemed like a rather generous offer to him.
Jesus answers with a surprise, “No, but seventy times seven.” He didn’t mean by that four hundred ninety times. Using a large number was to say, “as many times as it takes.”
Forgiveness is spiritual work. Certainly to forgive someone does not necessarily mean that we must subject ourselves to repeated mistreatment.
A villager said to his priest: “My neighbour slapped me. Should I forgive him?”
“Yes,” answered the priest.
“How many times should I forgive my neighbour?” the villager asked.
“How many times did he slap you?” asked the priest.
”Once,” came the answer.
“Then forgive him once,” said the priest.
“But what if he slaps me fifty times?” the villager asked.
“Then you should forgive him forty-nine time,” came the answer.
“Why only forty-nine times, if I were struck fifty times?” the villager asked.
The priest: “Freely accept he fiftieth slap. You would deserve it for being such a fool to allow yourself to be slapped the first forty-nine times.”
Nonetheless, forgiving another is spiritual work. When you have the opportunity to forgive someone, you have the opportunity to deny yourself. You have the opportunity to let go, to let go of control, to let go of anger, to let go of revenge, to let go of pride, to let go of ego.
A former inmate of a Nazi concentration camp was visiting a friend who had shared the ordeal with him.
“Have you forgiven the Nazis?” he asked his friend.
“Well, I haven’t. I’m still consumed with hatred for them.”
“In that case,” said his friend gently, “they still have you in prison.”
Forgiveness may not always be easy – but it comes with the religion to which we subscribe, the God whom we worship, & his Son whom we follow.
“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”
“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that crushed it.”—Mark Twain
“There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.” —Bryant H. McGill
“Hell is yourself and the only redemption is when a person puts himself aside to feel deeply for another person.”
“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”