But I Didn’t Mean to Do It … by Kelly Irvin
Phoebe Christner and Michael Daugherty didn’t set out to do anything wrong. They just wanted to get to know each other. A simple—if a little selfish—decision leads to a terrible tragedy. They didn’t mean to do it, but it happened. Are they responsible for the consequences of their actions? Accidents happen, after all.
How often have you said those words? Or your children? I often “discussed” accidents with my husband, who had little patience for the kind of accidents that occurred when our children were young and excited and anxious to have fun. I argued they didn’t mean to break the glass on their way to pour more lemonade or damage the cupboard door because they were running in the house or burn the top of the cooler with a sparkler on the Fourth of July. My husband argued that their actions had consequences and they should be held accountable for them.
Regardless of whether Michael and Phoebe mean for the tragedy to occur, it does. They both feel guilty, remorseful, and full of grief. As we all would. They’re fortunate to be surrounded by Amish family and friends who embrace the biblical concept of forgiveness in a way that the secular world around them seldom does. It’s a forgiveness that makes me feel small and mean at my own grudges held on to for years. Phoebe’s parents forgive her and Michael, even as they struggle to come to grips with their loss and their own guilt and remorse. Katie and Silas wonder if they had been stricter parents could this tragedy have been avoided. They too feel lost and alone.
Often the biggest challenge when our failures result in bad things happening is being able to accept forgiveness from others, to forgive ourselves and to believe God forgives us. That’s certainly true for Michael and Phoebe. Phoebe thinks she needs to be good, she needs to be a better person, she needs to prove to God that she’s learned her lesson. It’s only with time and the counsel of a wise woman who also has traveled through this dark valley that Phoebe learns she need only ask and God will forgive her. She can never be good enough. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He wants us to accept the gift of grace He gave us when He sacrificed his only son for our sins.
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever, but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:18-19)
God not only forgives us, he tosses out our sins, tramples them underfoot, and forgets them. We have to do the same. Learn from our lessons and let our guilt and remorse go. We are honed and our rough edges smoothed by the difficult lessons we earned. We learn empathy and compassion for others. Then we are given the opportunity to share what we’ve learned with others when the time comes.
We know that our Father, our Yaweh, has experienced the loss of a child. He understands. He grieves with us and gathers our children into his arms. It takes time, but ultimately we can come to accept the joy of knowing they rest in Him.
Thus, comes joy from the darkness.
Kelly Irvin is the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Hope Amish series, both from Harvest Housing Publishing. Her latest release is Love Redeemed, set in Amish country in Missouri, which debuted March 1. She is currently working on The Beekeeper’s Son, the first book in the Amish of Bee County series, for Zondervan. She has also penned two inspirational romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine.
The Kansas native is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism. She has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years. Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-six years. They have two young adult children, one gorgeous new granddaughter, two cats, and a tank full of fish. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors. You can meet up with Kelly online: her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
About Love Redeemed:
Strong Enough to Heal
Phoebe Christner is thrilled when the families of her close-knit Amish community decide to spend a week at the lake. She feels she’s earned a break…and it doesn’t hurt that Michael Daugherty will be coming along. They’ll find ways to spend time together—she’s certain of it—and their romance will have time to blossom.
But when tragedy strikes, Phoebe and Michael are torn apart by their pain and the knowledge of their guilt. As they both cope with the loss of a loved one, they will come to discover that they can be forgiven not just by their community, but by God.
A tender novel of faith and family set in the heart of Amish country.
About Love Still Stands, the first novel in the New Hope series:
The New Hope Amish. In the first installment, Love Still Stands, a group of dedicated families leaves Bliss Creek to establish a new community in Missouri. Among them is Bethel Graber, a beautiful young woman with a passion for teaching. But after being disabled in a terrible accident, overseeing a classroom is out of the question…and romance seems a long-lost dream.
Bethel begins physical therapy, determined to make a fresh start. But that won’t be easy in the town of New Hope, where the locals seem anything but eager to welcome their new Amish neighbors. Amid growing intimidation from the community, Bethel must find the strength to face her many challenges and the faith to believe that God still has a plan–and a love–for her life.
If you enjoyed Kelly’s interview, you want to read Inner Source’s interview with Phoebe Christner, Kelly’s heroine from Love Redeemed.