Unless you have been living under a rock or on another planet, you have probably heard of the verdict announced in the Kate Steinle murder case. Kate was the young woman shot and killed in 2015 on a San Francisco pier, dying in the arms of her father. The acquittal of Garcia Zarate after the not guilty verdict was announced has caused national debate. Some say it’s the fault of our immigration policy, some say it’s the fault of sanctuary cities, and some say the case is a gross miscarriage of justice. I don’t know, I’m not a legal expert.
When Kate’s parents were interviewed after the verdict was announced, not unsurprisingly they felt justice had not been served. Jim Steinle, Kate’s father, expressed his grief, shock and sadness of the verdict. “Justice was rendered, but it was not served,” he said. Kate’s mother, Liz Sullivan, stated to media the family has a deep faith and are relying on the fact that Kate is in a better place. However, she acknowledged she has not gotten to a point of forgiveness yet, it is still too raw and their grief too deep for them to grasp yet.
Let me tell you a story. On March 28, 2010, Conor McBride walked into the Tallahassee Police Department and told the officer on duty, “You need to arrest me. I just shot my fiancée in the head.” An hour earlier, he shot Ann Margaret Grosmaire, his girlfriend of three years. They had been fighting for 38 hours, culminating when McBride shot her in the face. Four days later, after her condition did not improve, her parents removed her from life support.
As his daughter lay in ICU, Andy Grosmaire felt he heard her say, “Forgive him.” “No,” he said out loud. “No way. It’s impossible.” But he kept hearing Ann’s voice, “Forgive him. Forgive him.” As he was praying later in her room, “I realized it was not just Ann asking me to forgive Conor, it was Jesus Christ. And I hadn’t said no to him before, and I wasn’t going to start then. It was just a wave of joy, and I told Ann: ‘I will. I will.'” His wife came to the same decision: “Conor owed us a debt he could never repay. And releasing him from that debt would release us from expecting that anything in this world could satisfy us.”
The prosecutor was extremely skeptical. But the Grosmaires’ desire to forgive their daughter’s killer eventually led him to recommend 20 years in prison plus 10 years of probation rather than a life sentence. Ann’s mother said later, “Everything I feel, I can feel because we forgave Conor. . . . I think that when people can’t forgive, they’re stuck. All they can feel is the emotion surrounding that moment. I can be sad, but I don’t have to stay stuck in that moment when this awful thing happened. Because if I do, I may never come out of it. Forgiveness for me was self-preservation.”
I guess what I’m trying to say is that forgiveness is the healing salve when justice eludes you. It doesn’t come quickly, but if pursued, it will come. If you have a story of forgiveness I’d love to hear from you.
C.S. Lewis: “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”