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The poison of bitterness

Created date

September 22nd, 2009

On October 2, 2006, as the sun rose over sleepy Amish farms, no one suspected that Pennsylvanians were on the verge of their own September 11th. No one knew that the milk man intended mayhem. ' After shooting ten Amish girls at the Nickel Mines schoolhouse, Charles Carl Roberts IV ended his own life. Though toxicology studies claimed that his body was clean, the spiritual autopsy revealed a soul filled with bitterness. His three-page note to his wife pointed to the death of their firstborn who had died of natural causes: The tragedy with Elise ... changed my life forever. Every time we do something fun, I think about how Elise wasn't here to share it with us and I go right back to anger. ' Roberts words to his hostages go further: I m angry at God and I need to punish some Christian girls to get even with him. I m going to make you pay for my daughter. The truck driver was also disgusted with himself for allegedly molesting two younger relatives when he was 12, explaining: I am filled with so much hate toward myself toward God and unimaginable emptiness. ' Bitterness was flowing in every direction toward God, toward self, toward others. The paradox of forgiveness ' Within hours of the massacre, the media rushed to the Nickel Mines schoolhouse. Though horror threatened to take center stage, a beautiful subplot surfaced: the paradox of forgiveness. By nightfall, Amish neighbors were walking to the shooter s home ready to express forgiveness and to begin collecting food and money for his family. By the time his body was lowered into the earth, half of the mourners were Amish. Where one man s sin abounded, grace did much more abound to quote Saint Paul. ' In hindsight, we could pray for ourselves: That no bitter root grows up. We could hope for the wisdom of Abner to douse our simmering tendencies: Must the sword devour forever? Don't you realize that this will end in bitterness? Too often have our grief wounds become infected, turning into malignant, untreated depression. ' Too often have we swallowed the poisoned pill called bitterness, hoping that it would hurt the other person only to find that it ends up making us sick.