13 August 2008

Justice, Mercy, and Forgiveness

I just watched a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, that I recorded awhile back, called "Crossroads: A Story of Forgiveness". It really kind of tied together some of the ideas that I have been thinking about lately. Let me back up and explain.

Last year we decided, truth be told, we felt strongly prompted, that we should add onto and remodel our house so that my grandparents could move in with us. However, about a month in to the process our general contractor quit. Long story short before the addition was complete, I and my entire extended family, learned more about construction, hands on, than we ever wanted to know. We also went through, 3 plumbers, 3 electricians, 2 concrete contractors, 2 sets of framers, 2 lawyers, and lots of visits by the city inspectors. We are still in the middle of finishing up the landscaping.

We may or may not have had a case against the general contractor, and part of us really wanted to go to court, prove that we were right, that he did us a great injustice, and get him to own up, repent and repay. I however, was counciled by our Bishop, who also happens to be a lawyer, to take into consideration that this process would in all likelihood take at least a year to complete, and that I needed to consider the physical, mental, and emotional toll that would take on me as a pregnant homeschooling mother of 5 children. We decided that we had already forgiven them, and even if we did have a case, it didn't ruin us financially, just set us back a little, and we learned a lot of things and grew closer together as a family, however, didn't justice need to be satisfied? This is the question that I struggled with in the small moments of self pity that crept up on me.

Earlier this week I was reading the July 2008 Ensign Article entitled, "Hope, Healing, and Dealing with Addiction. I really was touched by this section.

Sometimes [people] mistakenly assume that extending forgiveness also means restoring trust. Yet trust and forgiveness are two separate issues. A person can repent and be forgiven long before he or she earns trust again.

I didn't really know how to explain it myself, but this sort of sums up what I had been feeling about all the mess we had with the construction process of our house last year. I felt like I had done my part to forgive them, yet I wouldn't recommend them to anyone else, or hire them again. So I had been struggling with, "Had I really forgiven them." I've always believed that all things were given us for our learning, and we learned, now we needed to move on and not give up a year of our life trying to exact justice.This explains it, yes, I've forgiven, but they haven't done anything to earn my trust. The next steps, repentance, and earning trust, are up to them.

Watching this movie tonight showed how this man went from wanting his wife's memory cleared of wrong doing in traffic accident, to wanting justice, the driver locked up, to understanding the driver's remorse, and then executing mercy as he asked the court to reduce the charge, and allow the young driver to pay his price to society by allowing him talk to youth about what happened, and save the lives of others. This was a much greater way to honor his wife's memory, to move forward and save the lives of others, most of all of the young man who had killed her. Mercy overcame Justice, what a powerful blessing. I'm so thankful that we decided to allow forgiveness into our hearts, to know that justice will win in the end, but mercy is even better.

A side note: as I was sitting down to write this I found out that the husband of one of my young women leaders and longtime family friend was killed today in a motorcycle accident.

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