Rodney M Bliss

How Do You Forgive The Unforgivable?

It was almost too much to bear.

No. That’s not true. It was too much. I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t grasp what I was hearing. The details of the abuse that had been happening in my home were overwhelming. A huge part of my world came crashing down.

But, life goes on, even if I didn’t feel like I could.

I was talking to my mother who lived in Washington. Before the abuse was known she’d bought me a surprise gift of tickets to Billy Joel and Elton John’s “Face to Face” concert in Salt Lake City. I’d wanted to see the concert for literally over a decade. She was planning to fly to Salt Lake and we’d go together.

Unfortunately the concert was cancelled and she wasn’t going to be able to attend at the rescheduled time. She was trying to decide what to do with the tickets.

I don’t care, Mom. You bought them. Go ahead and get refunds if you want.

But, you’ve wanted to see this concert for years. Doesn’t it just break your heart?

Look, Mom. I just found out one of my kids will never again be able to set foot in my house. That breaks my heart. Not getting to see a couple of old guys sing on stage doesn’t really compare.

Yesterday I talked about dealing with people who are trying to redeem themselves. (Holding The Power Of Redemption.) Today I want to talk about being the person that is betrayed, whether that’s at work, or in your family, or in yourself.

The betrayal that I experienced in my own home was the worst experience of my life. Even now, years later, I’m only able to speak about in vague terms. But, it was horrific and it resulted in several of my children being removed and placed in foster care. They had to go through the legal system, but as children they really needed care not incarceration.

My wife and I had to make a decision at this point. Many parents in our situation “divorced” their child. They choose to focus on helping the victims heal and they either ignored or vilified the perpetrator.

That was a tempting route. It really was. The emotional scars were so big, ugly and raw that it was tempting to simply cauterize them. Shut off the emotions.

But, we soon realized something. Our kids in foster care were going to be sent along the path of least resistance. They’d be kept safe and kept from hurting others, but very little effort would be made at getting them the help and therapy that they needed to heal and get better.

Could we put aside our own grief, our own feelings of betrayal to become advocates for our kids? I wasn’t sure. But, I knew that if we didn’t, no one would.

Fortunately, not every betrayal is as personal or as painful as the one I went through with my kids. So, what do you do with an employee who has betrayed you? Yesterday I mentioned James (He Deserved To Be Fired.) James lied to me. And then he made a mistake. And then he ran away.

How do I get past that as his supervisor?

Sometimes you can’t. In some cases, you can never rebuild that trust. In that case, you owe it to the employee to let them go. Oh sure, that’s easy for me to say. “Let them go” sounds so benign. Almost like I’m doing them a favor by giving them freedom. But, that’s actually what it is. I have a good friend who is the son of a man who owns a large corporation. My friend had a good job for life. All he had to do with show up. But, my friend realized that he was never going to be anything except the boss’s son. So he left.

What’s that have to do with firing someone?

A lot. In both cases, you have someone who cannot possibly redeem their image. If you know you will never trust an employee again, why put both of you through the pain of keeping a relationship going that is not good for anyone?

One company I worked for found out that a mid level manager was getting kickbacks from a supplier in exchange for steering them business. He eventually got caught. The company didn’t want the bad press associated with charges and a trial. But, no one at that company was ever going to trust that person again, no matter if he changed or not. They did him a great favor by “letting him go.”

With James, I tried to focus on the good work he’d done in the years leading up to his mistake. I also thought I recognized why he was struggling. And finally, it was obvious that he wasn’t acting out of malicious intent.

Even with all of that, there was no guarantee he’d be able to recover. Fortunately he did, and we remain good friends to today.

So, what about my kids?

I couldn’t abandon them. Families built through adoption are unique in that parents get to choose their kids. I choose these kids and having once decided that I was going to love them, I couldn’t stop that. We had and continue to have a long road. Sometimes the kids are appreciative of the chances they’ve been given, other times, they are resentful. They are teenagers. Sometimes they just act crazy anyway.

I haven’t forgotten what they did. I’ll never forget that. It’s been seared into my soul with a white hot branding iron. But, I can separate what was done, from the individual doing it. I got just a glimpse of what the Bible means when it says “God loves everyone.” Really? Really? God loves Hitler? Stalin? The people who crucified His Son? The people who do horrible things to children? He loves THOSE people?

Does God really love the murderers?

Yes. But, I think it’s harder for Him to love the rapists.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

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