I couldn’t help but think deeper about the concept of forgiveness after my recent interview with Beth Nimmo, mother of Columbine High School shooting victim Rachel Joy Scott.
After all, I was incredibly moved by the depths of her Christian faith and devotion. But it was specifically Nimmo’s act of forgiveness in light of the circumstances surrounding her daughter’s death that truly stirred something deep within me.
Sure, it’s easy to excuse a friend or loved one who makes a negative or nasty comment amid heated discussion or debate, but the intense form of forgiveness that Nimmo and her family embraced was something entirely different.
After two teen gunman planned, plotted, targeted Scott and proceeded to massacre 13 innocents on April 20, 1999, Nimmo chose to actively forgive the unthinkable. Considering the gravity of that decision, I reached back out to Nimmo to dig deeper into the process she went through to come to grips and forgive the Columbine shooters.
“I don’t know if I can define it in terms of a process … it took a while to get to that point, even though we declared that we would forgive,” Nimmo told “The Church Boys” podcast on Thursday.
In sharing her journey, she said there are three points about her act of forgiveness that she found incredibly relevant. The first involves biblical commandments, the second involves her daughter’s wishes and the third centers on Nimmo’s own future.
“The word tells us as believers to forgive, so obviously the Lord has purpose for that step being taken,” Nimmo said. “And then the second point for me was it would be Rachel’s nature and character to say, ‘Mom, please forgive the boys’ … I know that would be her heart.”
Listen to Nimmo discuss forgiveness below:
Nimmo said she’s tried hard over the 17 years since the shooting to represent what Rachel stood for, and that taking her daughter’s nature into consideration has helped guide that process. Beyond that, Nimmo said she has had to make a concerted effort not to allow the Columbine tragedy to derail the rest of her life.
“The third thing — and this is for me individually … life as we know it on this Earth stopped at that point in time for (Rachel),” she said. “I did not want it to be my life sentence.”
Unfortunately, Nimmo said many people “lock themselves down emotionally, physically mentally to that point of life” when intense pain or trauma occurred. That simply wasn’t something she was willing to allow in her own life.
“If you’re willing to let go of that pain … give that back to the Lord, he will heal your heart, if you’re willing,” Nimmo continued. “I want to be able to live life again and I want to be able to live it well.”
Listen to Nimmo discuss her daughter’s prophetic journal entries in part one of our interview conducted earlier this month:
And she also made a fourth point about forgiveness that she said is incredibly important, citing her belief that many people don’t properly understand the fact that forgiving someone doesn’t require being OK with what they’ve done.
“We have equated forgiveness with saying, ‘If I forgive you it means I’m okay with what happened.’ And that’s not what forgiveness means,” she said. “I will never be okay with what happened that day … I’ll never be okay with what those boys did.”
Of course, forgiveness doesn’t always come easily, as Nimmo said there were many times she’d feel the anger and pain come rushing back and would have to rely on Jesus’ words about forgiveness in Matthew 18:22 to push through it.
“You start going through that process, and the more I found out about (the killers) deliberate decision to kill that day and target Rachel, the more I had to practice the verse that said ‘forgive 70 times seven,'” Nimmo said, speaking of her own personal process. “You go back to the Lord every time.”
“I Am Not Ashamed,” a new film about Columbine and Rachel Scott, opens tonight in theaters nationwide. We’ll leave you with the trailer for the Pure Flix feature below:
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