My friend and Proverbs 31 Teammate, Suzie Eller, just released her book The Unburdened Heart: Finding Freedom in Forgiveness. It truly is the best book I have ever read on forgiveness. Why do I say that? Because Suzie does not just share her story, she shares the stories of many women who have had to learn forgiveness in the midst of some of life’s most difficult circumstances. Suzie’s tenderness will draw you in and her raw honesty will allow you to trust her to take steps toward forgiveness that you never thought you could.
I have interviewed Suzie about her book, and you can find that interview below. We would like to give away a copy of her book, so after the interview, we invite you to leave a comment sharing why you would like to win a copy of The Unburdened Heart.
Also at the end of the post, you will find the winner of my book, Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner, chosen from the comments on my last post.
Suzie, why is forgiveness so difficult?
It’s difficult because it involves people and it involves the way we feel. If we could just live in isolation, then maybe we’d never run into a difficult person, or open our hearts to love someone and they disappoint, or maybe we’d never feel bad. Which is why many do isolate or retaliate when they are hurt; it makes sense.
But it also traps you, and keeps you stuck, and maybe no one sees that, but it plays out somewhere, whether in your relationships or inside where no one can see.
Why are you offering a free online study?
One of the things that I pray that The Unburdened Heart–and our online study–does is to help shift our perspective from “what was, to what can be”.
We know up front that we are going to face head-on some difficult challenges, or that we may crawl over a hurdle that has stood in the way for years, but one of the most powerful meanings of the word forgive is “to leave one place to go to another”.
To leave bitterness for joy.
To leave anger for peace.
To leave being stuck to discovering what God has for you today, rather than what you carried yesterday.
What does forgiveness mean? Is it letting someone off the hook for what he/she did?
The foundational meaning is to “cease to feel resentment.” In a sense, we are able to get out of the debt collection business, which is freeing.
But there’s so much more to this word.
When I started my own personal journey to discover the diverse and powerful meanings of this word, I did so because it seemed like people would say something like, “just forgive”, which only made a hundred more questions come up, like “does it mean they get off the hook?” or “they’ve changed but I can’t forget what they did”.
The deeper I got into this study, the more I realized that forgiveness is important to God, because people are important to God.
In the book, using the power of story and scripture, I share several different multi-layered meanings of this word found in scripture, and all of them lead us to freedom. It might not necessarily fix another person, or make them say they are sorry, or even provide justice that should have taken place, but the door is unlocked and you and I are free and no longer chained to an event, a person, or a time.
Why should we forgive, especially when we’ve been hurt badly and/or the offender isn’t sorry for what he/she did?
First, it’s important that we acknowledge that it’s hard to forgive when there’s no remorse, and you long for someone to say they are sorry. I don’t know how many women I’ve talked to that I’ve wrapped my arms around and said, “I wish that hadn’t happened to you. I’m so sorry that it did.”
But there are a lot of walking wounded whose offender may not be sorry, may not be remorseful (maybe they see it a different way, or through their own filter of pain, or maybe they don’t care), and yet this beautiful woman is still tied to that person or that period of time.
When I looked at my beautiful newborn child, I wanted her to have a healthy mom who wasn’t tied to the past, or filled with bitterness. I wanted to put a line in front of me and say, “it stops here.” I wanted my sweet girl to grow up in stability. But if there were cords that still tied me to the past, I was going to struggle to give her that.
It wasn’t easy. I didn’t know what or how to do it way back then. I just knew that for some reason every time I prayed that God would help me give my child something greater, the word forgive seemed to be the most important first step to take.
So, regardless of another person’s willingness or unwillingness, we offer up what we have to God and that might just look like this: God, I have no clue where you are taking me, or what you want me to do, but I’m willing to take this journey. So I offer up my heart to you today, regardless of whether anyone else has signed up for this journey or not.
To me, surrendering to the process is the most incredible act of faith.
What about when we think we have forgiven, but negative thoughts and emotions still keep coming up. Why is this, and will your book help us with this?
When I was in the beginning stages of forgiving, I would let thoughts just pour over my heart.
I thought about what I would say next. I would think about setting a person straight. I would put myself in a good light, and the other person in a negative light. Pretty soon I was in stuck in those thoughts and emotions. It wasn’t a healthy place, because it didn’t do anything to work through the conflict. It didn’t do anything but feed my anger or bitterness.
One day I felt God asking me to leave that unhealthy place.
I promised God that when I went to that unhealthy place where nothing was ever resolved and it kept me stuck, that I’d recognize it as such.
When that took place, it was a good time to look at why I felt the way I did, and if there was anything in my power that I could do. And if not, then how could I invite God into that moment and that feeling, where He could take up residence and fill in the raw places in my heart.
Suzie, thank you for spending time with us on my blog today. I am already hearing wonderful stories about women choosing to forgive because of the stories and Scriptural truths you present in your book.
Friends, if you want to know more about Suzie, please visit her blog and check out her on-line study by clicking here.
***The winner of Hidden Joy***
Brenda who posted on March 3rd at 8:20 pm
Congratulations! Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know your full name and address so I can send you the book.
Please don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Suzie’s new book!