Monday, December 9, 2019


Forgiveness is a complicated thing.  Whether we are searching for ways to forgive someone else or forgive ourselves, there are many emotions that get in the way.

A member of our church spoke yesterday about Tony Showers, Jr. who is awaiting sentencing for the hit-and-run death of a 4-year-old girl.  This church member is mentoring Tony as part of (as I understand it) a veteran helping another troubled veteran program.  The mentor has also given one of Tyler's Bibles to Tony so that it may help him find God and make sense of all that has happened.  Tony's contact information has been posted at the church so that we can send offers of prayer to him as he comes to grip with what is ahead of him.  My first thought was to sit and write to Tony, to introduce myself as Tyler's dad and explain to him how he came to have that study Bible.  Perhaps Tyler's inspiration can work in this young man's life.

Then I thought of the family of the young girl.  We prayed for them during the service as well, but I was troubled thinking about the hell they must go through every day.  This is where those complicated thoughts hit me; how do we begin to forgive someone who chose to take drugs, hit an innocent little girl, and then leave her dead along the road.  It took 2 years to bring an arrest in the case, and another year to prosecute it.  It appears he not only did a terrible thing, but he refused to take responsibility for it.  How can we forgive that?

My great Uncle Art was murdered in 1975.  He walked into a store, which was being robbed at the time, and was shot dead while looking at celery.  He didn't realize a robbery was happening, and the young robber blew him away.  It left a gigantic hole in the lives of everyone who knew him, and was devastating to the family.  Lives were torn apart.  42 years later he was released as part of a juvenile offender program.  Essentially, because he was so young when he was convicted of the crime, he was entitled to be re-sentenced in 2016.  It was deemed that after 42 years, he deserved to be released and live the rest of his life (in poor health there was not much left to live) outside of prison.

Obviously and understandably there were members of the family that were conflicted and sad by the news that the murderer would be released from prison.  It invoked conversations of the justice system in general, and of that word "forgiveness".  I was saddened to see that one took it so far as to publicly wish him to "rot in hell".  It made me wonder what they thought Christianity and forgiveness really meant?  Does it mean you should preach forgiveness all day long, but if it happens in your own family you have a free pass to hate and deny forgiveness?  The perpetrator has shown in his actions and words since 1975 that he regrets doing such a horrible thing, and that he understands the hurt he caused the family.  He served 42 years of his life, essentially meaning his actions cost him his own life as well.  To say that a regretful man, regardless of the ugliness of his actions, deserves to "rot in hell" is to deny God and what he teaches us.  

How do we apply this to Tony Showers, Jr.?  He did drugs, ran over a young child, and refused to take accountability for it.  He tore people apart.  I think we start by having him take ownership for his actions.  He needs to acknowledge the pain he has caused and be willing to ask forgiveness for it.  If he is willing to be truly remorseful, we must forgive him. Regardless of how difficult it may be, we must be willing to forgive.  We cannot simply fall back on the hollow words that seem so popular in such situations "I forgive but I won't forget".  That, by the way, is code for "I don't really forgive, I just call it something else so it sounds better".  If we can't do this, then we too are truly lost.

I suppose my letter to Tony will be to introduce him to Tyler's story, and how I hope he uses that Bible to find what he needs to become a person worthy of the forgiveness that he needs.

Be well and God bless.    Tom

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