Amish, Anger, Forgiveness, Grudges, Kebba, peace within, Resentment, stress
©2015 Kebba Buckley Button, MS, OM. World Rights Reserved.
Think, for a minute, of someone you resent, because they did something hurtful to you. Notice how angry, tight, tired, and toxic you feel when you think of them? What about when you think of violence, like recent U.S. shootings between police and Black urbanites?
One of the highest and best things we can do, for ourselves and our loved ones, is to forgive. A bad divorce, a child who died young, a random shooting at a market, a loud neighbor—the list is endless. Some of us are carrying huge emotional burdens, due to past bad memories or perhaps current situations. Many hurts go on between relatives, friends, and communities. However, sometimes people manage to forgive, and the whole community is empowered. Allow yourself to be touched by the courageous forgiveness in this powerful true story.
On October 2, 2006, a pickup truck backed up to the front door of an Amish school. It was the West Nickel Mines School in Pennsylvania. A man who was angry at God went into the school, shot 10 girls and then himself. Five of the girls died. This small Amish community could have been devastated and could have shouted about discrimination, invasion, and revenge. They could have been consumed by resentment and hatred. They could have written books about their pain and sold the movie rights. They could have sued their way around the court system. They did no such thing.
“Holding a grudge is like drinking poison, hoping the other person will die.”
~ The Dalai Lama
Instead, they forgave Charles Roberts, the gunman, who had been their milk delivery man. One of Roberts’ children had died the day she was born, and he could not forgive God for that loss. Amish leaders went to Roberts’ widow’s home, told her they had forgiven Roberts, and offered comfort for her and her children. Later, they took the widow toys for her children. Citing their faith, the Amish gave up any burden of hatred or resentment, embodied compassion, acted out their forgiveness, and fulfilled reconciliation. They went to Roberts’ funeral and stood with his bereaved family. They leveled the school and built a new one on a different site, calling it “The New Hope School”.
“One of the secrets of a long and happy life is to forgive everybody everything before you go to bed each night.”
~ Bernard Baruch
Roberts’ widow came to the school dedication celebration, only 6 months after the shootings. The community had clearly declared a healing. A movie version of the story, Amish Grace, ran on the Lifetime Network, and Lifetime reported it was the most watched movie ever broadcast by their network. The movie is still available. Clearly, people are interested in forgiveness, unburdening of grudges, and the grace of reconciliation.
How would you have reacted if someone shot your child at his/her school? The Amish story raises afresh the question of what forgiveness is. A great definition is “giving up resentment or any claim for recompense for the wrong that has occurred.”
“Forgive us our wrongs as we forgive those who have wronged us.”
~ Jesus, on how to pray, Matthew 6:12
And research suggests resentment causes major stress for your mind and your cardiovascular system. Forgiveness can bring you peace within. If we can forgive personally and locally, can we forgive globally as well?
Are you holding any grudges? Would you like to feel better? Think of Amish grace. Try forgiving someone today, and notice how well you sleep tonight.
- Kebba Buckley Button is a stress management expert. She also has a natural healing practice and is an ordained minister. She is the author of the award-winning book, Discover The Secret Energized You (http://tinyurl.com/b44v3br), plus the 2013 book, Peace Within: Your Peaceful Inner Core, Second Edition(http://tinyurl.com/mqg3uvc ). Her newest book is Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine, available through her office. Just email SacredMeditation@kebba.com.
- For an appointment or to ask Kebba to speak for your group: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Melody Pittman said:
Lovely read. I am sorting through a lot of these emotions as we speak. Most have to do with my childhood and my parents divorcing at an early age and not being part of my fathers family. I took it upon myself to develop a relationship with them and finally, after many years, I am a true part of the entire family, aunts, uncles, cousins. It is a great feeling finally letting go of all the resentment and hostility, but there are still many little things to work through. True though, I feel a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I would hate to think about losing a child or something that delicate, I may not be quite as inclined to ever forgive, but I certainly see the need for it.
Kebba Buckley Button said:
Melody, thanks! And thanks for sharing about family and forgiveness. At 62, I have come a long road since an unpleasant childhood and many unpleasant memories of interactions with relatives. However, by being the person I am, by forgiving (silently, of course, not saying it to them), and by bringing Love to the picture many times, I now find us in a largely healthy, joyful, and mutually loving family relationship! So you really struck a chord with me, sharing your story. Thank you so much! Blessings to you!
Alana Mautone (@RamblinGarden) said:
This is a “deep breath before commenting” moment because my community of Binghamton, NY was hit by a mass shooting in 2009- in fact, that was the impetus for me starting my blog. In 2009, an immigrant entered a classroom for adult immigrants, and shot the teacher and 12 others dead (4 others survived) before taking his own life. The dead ranged in age from 22 to 72. A member of our community also died at Newtown (the school psychologist.) Let me tell you what happened to the parents of the Binghamton shooter. They had to move out of the area. I honestly don’t think anyone could know how they would react if their child was murdered unless it actually happened. The Amish live their beliefs daily, and I have a great deal of respect for them. I don’t know what I would do. I would hope that, if the surviving family of the perpetrator had no part of it, that I could somehow embrace them – but I also hope I never have the opportunity to find out. As for the shooter him/herself if the person survived- that is another question.
Kebba Buckley Button said:
Alana, wow! I remember now. I did a year of grad school in Binghamton, but well before the mass shooting. Notice, in this article, I didn’t try to name or enumerate all the mass shootings/bombings in just the US, even in just the last few years. I only isolated the one community, where the extraordinary forgiveness took place. It’s shocking, but unsurprising, that the Binghamton shooter’s parents had to move. Who would want those memories of a child’s drastic choices? Let alone the constant commentary from the community. It’s so complex. Could you forgive your son/daughter for doing such a thing, then killing him/herself? Like you, I hope I never have the opportunity to find out. Thanks for your exquisite thoughtfulness.
I’ve heard the story before but thanks for it again. I hang onto to feelings for long, long time. Hard to let go and forgive. It’s just coming to me now. Thanks for the article. It’s easier with an example to follow or try to.
Lovely post. Forgiveness is an interesting and touchy topic. A lot of people get upset when it’s suggested that they try to forgive, as it somehow seems like that makes what happened “okay.” Forgiving someone doesn’t make the act okay; it just means that you’re willing to let go of the pain. Thank you for a thought provoking post.
Kebba Buckley Button said:
Doree, you said it so beautifully. May I quote you in a future piece? If you don’t want your name attached, I can quote you without your name. I am so glad you enjoyed the post. We forgive for ourselves, not for them. Thanks so much for visiting and sharing.
You’re absolutely willing to quote me, and I don’t mind you using my name. I’m glad I said something to touch you as your post touched me.
Kebba Buckley Button said:
Doree, thanks so much! Auto-correct- so much to answer for- LOL!
*welcome… welcome to quote me… Gotta love autocorrect!
Teresa Coppens said:
I have to admit I’ve held onto to grudges for far too long. It is emotionally taxing and really more harmful to me than to anyone else. I can be hard to forgive, however, but the rewards if it can be done are life-changing. Great post!