Farmville Enterprise January 31, 2018
Over the course of seven days the momentum grew at a sentencing hearing in a Lansing, Michigan courtroom and what originally was intended to be 88 victim impact statements ballooned into 156. These 150+ girls or young women described in often excruciating detail the pain inflicted on them at the hands of Larry Nassar, the former doctor for the U.S. national gymnastics team and osteopathic physician at Michigan State University of approximately 20 years.
The mature, grace-filled faith of a good number of the survivors was demonstrated unabashedly. Rachael Denhollander, a wife, mother and attorney was the first to report the abuse to a newspaper which led to the discovery that others had reported to coaches and trainers with no results. Below are some excerpts as Denhollander concluded the hearing.
“You spoke of praying for forgiveness. But Larry, if you have read the Bible you carry, you know forgiveness does not come from doing good things, as if good deeds can erase what you have done. It comes from repentance which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done in all of its utter depravity and horror without mitigation, without excuse, without acting as if good deeds can erase what you have seen in this courtroom today.”
“Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet, because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.
I pray you experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me — though I extend that to you as well.
Throughout this process, I have clung to a quote by C.S. Lewis, where he says, ‘My argument against God was that the universe seems so cruel and unjust. But how did I get this idea of just, unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he first has some idea of straight. What was I comparing the universe to when I called it unjust?’
Larry, I can call what you did evil and wicked because it was. And I know it was evil and wicked because the straight line exists. The straight line is not measured based on your perception or anyone else’s perception, and this means I can speak the truth about my abuse without minimization or mitigation. And I can call it evil because I know what goodness is. And this is why I pity you. Because when a person loses the ability to define good and evil, when they cannot define evil, they can no longer define and enjoy what is truly good.
When a person can harm another human being, especially a child, without true guilt, they have lost the ability to truly love.”
Throughout her statement Denhollander repeated the question, “How much is a little girl worth?”
Days before, Dr. Christina Barba in her statement addressed the defendant and survivors. “I know there is no sin outside the reach of God’s mercy. Lamentations 3 says that ‘the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies are new every morning.’ I forgive you, Larry. I will never hate you.” “To my sisters, Even though this physician and his supporting institutions failed us, I know a Divine Physician who sees our secret pain, catches every tear, binds up our wounds and holds our heart. He loves us and longs to make us whole. Jesus said, ‘I make all things new.’ He can make something beautiful with our brokenness if we let him.”
May we do everything within our power to protect all of God’s children, who indeed are worth everything.