We talk a good game about what it is we say we believe, but we’ve all experienced those moments when our faithfulness folds like a bad poker hand.
We struggle, daily, to live by those tenets we’ve deemed necessary for a civilized society, even when we’d secretly rather exact justice on those whom we have decided deserve it.
Fidelity to one’s beliefs is not for the weak. We look in gall and askance at people who revel in avarice and entitlement, who seem to have diplomatic immunity against karma and consequences.
So, walking your talk when everything around you suggests you’re a fool for doing so is more than a notion.
Consider the case of Patty Porter, who recently was featured in a Canton Repository series that examined her life and her commitment to raising her grandson 10 years after her daughter Jessie was killed.
Consider how much blowback Porter probably has received over her decision to not only forgive Bobby Cutts Jr., the man who killed Jessie on a summer night in 2007, then lied about it and hid her body, but also over Porter’s unprecedented choice to ensure that her grandson maintains a relationship with Cutts and his family.
But in doing so, Porter is making the deliberate, conscious choice not to let the sin of the father poison the path of the son.
For good or for ill, a child’s earliest identity, their first sense of self, comes from their relationship with their parents. The raw material of who we are is produced by that relationship, even when — and especially when — it doesn’t exist.
The problem comes when we’re tempted to use our family history, or our parents’ mistakes and shortcomings, as an excuse for our own. Knowing this, Porter has taken the brave and risky step of not obscuring what happened.
Family secrets kept to maintain a veneer have destroyed too many people. Unanswered questions prompt us to fill in the narrative, often with erroneous and inaccurate information.
But the truth, even when it is hard to bear, is the only thing that heals and endures.
No such thing
Forgiveness, as hard as it may be, is one thing. Working to ensure that father and son stay connected, is something altogether different — and infinitely more difficult.
There are few of us who possess the faith or the foresight to carry out such a task.
The grief of losing one child and the unexpected challenge of raising another would be excuse enough not to commit to such a decision. No one would have blamed Porter had she decided to try and create a clean slate of sorts for her grandson.
But really, there’s no such thing as the past, not as we’ve come to define it. The past, as someone said, is merely a prologue of the next chapter in our lives.
All we can do is try to keep it from engulfing and taking hostage of the present.
Faith requires radicalism and a good measure of audaciousness. Porter is staking her grandson’s future in the belief that forgiveness — hers and God’s — has the ability to overcome a tragedy which had the power to destroy them all.
Could you do it? More importantly, would you?
— Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter: @cgoshayREP