Interview with Liz Peterson from ‘My Son, John’ by Kathi Macias
Q: Liz, you’re respected in the community—married to a successful attorney with one grown son and a teenaged daughter—and you’ve been a Christian since you were a child. How did the news of your mother’s murder affect the lifestyle you had known for so long?
A: It was as if someone had dropped an atomic bomb in my backyard. What it didn’t kill outright was quickly tainted by the fallout. Nothing seemed familiar any longer. Life as I’d known it was over.
Q: Tell us some of the immediate emotions you experienced soon after receiving this tragic news.
A: Shock was primary, though grief and loss and confusion all swirled around me, vying for attention. And of course, in the background, was this nagging thought that something about John’s reaction to what had happened just wasn’t right.
Q: And yet you seemed unwilling and/or unable to accept the truth when John was arrested. Tell us about what was going on in your heart and mind then.
A: Without a doubt, the strongest emotion in play once John was arrested was denial. Even when I heard he’d confessed, I simply could not believe that the little boy I had loved for twenty-three years could do such a horrible thing.
Q: Once you were able to get past the denial and admit the truth about what had happened, where did your emotions take you then?
A: It was so much easier to stay in denial, which is why I clung to it so desperately. Once I faced the truth, I then had to deal with issues no mother should ever have to experience—primarily, how can I still love my son unconditionally after what he had done? Did I even know him anymore? Could we ever have a close relationship again?
Q: What was the catalyst that finally moved you from denial to truth, and from hopelessness to healing?
A: God used many people to speak truth into my life, and finally brought it all together when I realized my heavenly Father still loved me unconditionally and had never left me, even in the worst moments of my darkest ordeal. Slipping back into His arms was the best move I ever made.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is even now wrestling with the need to forgive something so horrible that it seems impossible, what would it be?
A: There is an old saying that refusing to forgive someone is like drinking poison and then waiting for the other person to die. Unforgiveness benefits no one. There is no sin too terrible, no act too vicious, no breach too wide that it can’t be healed by God’s unconditional love.
God gave us the example of how to deal with the hurts and injustices that inevitably come our way in this world when He sent His only Son to die a horrible death in our place. Why? To pay the required price for restoration of relationship between God and man. God’s heart is to see relationships restored.
The Scriptures tell us that Jesus was in the world, reconciling the world to Himself; now He sits at the right hand of the Father, and He has given to us the assignment of completing that “ministry of reconciliation.” That’s why Jesus came, and that’s why we’re still here—to bring reconciliation to broken relationships.