March 12, 2013

An Unburdened Heart: Finding Freedom in Forgiveness Author Interview and Giveaway

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 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!




  1. I have read the introduction and chapter 1 of this book and it is so good! I am struggling with forgiveness right now but this book seems like it will be helpful. There are a few people I am struggling with the issue of forgiveness.

    • Hey Kristen, My heart when writing this book is that it would be a tool, one that set women free in this area. Forgiving is hard, and it is a struggle, but it’s also mean to help you leave one place to find another, to let God move into the broken places, and so much more. My prayer is that God will absolutely show you that forgiving is His means of setting His daughter free, and that He is walking with you through the process.

  2. Forgiveness is such a struggle for me even though I fully understand the need and the command to do so. I would love to read (yet another) book on forgiveness.

  3. I would love to have a copy of this book. I am at the point in my life where forgiveness is something that has to happen for me to have peace in my life. Thanks for the giveaway.

    • Erin, you are so wise because there is absolutely no way we can have peace in our hearts when we harbor unforgiveness. Unforgiveness burdens our hearts and minds in such a way that it prevents us from hearing God and connecting with Him the powerful ways He intends.



  4. I always felt like I had the “gift” of forgiveness. I would turn the other cheek, while my insides were a burning fire. In August 2012 I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Much of my past came flooding over me. What I always felt as forgiveness was in fact an excuse to be nice because we are to be Christlike. I learned that to truly forgive is to never remind the person who hurt you of the past hurt. My doctor suggested that I go to therapy to deal with post tramatic stess disorder from the surgery and during the first session my therapist suggested we start with forgiveness. God is so good!

    • To truly forgive is to come to a place where you remember, but you cease to carry the burden of resentment. It’s a transforming place where you are no longer tied to a person, an event, or a set of circumstances. It’s a chapter in your story, but not the whole story. New chapters begin to be written.

    • i love what you said in your comment, “I learned that to truly forgive is to never remind the person who hurt you of the past hurt.” Such wise words, yet such hard words to truly live out!! But we can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us.


  5. When I went through a very difficult time almost seven years ago, I needed to learn forgiveness. The anger and bitterness were just eating me up and I couldn’t move forward with my life. I cried out to God “why?” and He brought me to my knees, sobbing, speaking to my heart to let go and forgive. I surrendered to Him completely and found forgiveness is healing. While I haven’t been perfect at this, God reminds me that I can’t change another person, but I can change my actions. Every day I am reminded when I read Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I never knew the power of forgiveness until God showed it to me and He is faithful in making the journey with you.

    • Beautiful!

    • Susan, how precious to read how you surrendered your heart to God and when you did He enabled you to experience true forgiveness. And more wise words from our on-line girls….”I can’t change another person, but I can change my actions.” We can let go of a lot of bitterness and anger if we truly remember this truth and live by it.



  6. Brenda S says:

    I have had so much turmoil in my life that I’ve had to deal with. Some was my own doing and some was done to me by family members. I still get overwhelmed at times at how hateful people can be and what they will say when they have it out for you………..and……..the people that believe the lies. For a long time I let it eat me up. I had to let it all go…….completely forgive them and try to move on. The relationships that were damaged breaks my heart and when I see these people I know they are still living back in the darkness. I have chosen to live in the light with the help of my faithful Jesus. There are times when all the old talk dribbles back into my brain bringing with it the pain but I try, as soon as I recognize the ugly voice in my head, to put it out and think on better things. I am not perfect and never will be this side of heaven but I choose, with God’s help, to not live in the past. I think that this book would be a great help. Thanks for the chance to win it.

    Congratulations to winner Brenda. You will love Hidden Joy!

  7. I used to find forgiving a hard thing to do but up until recently the last few months I learned to forgive. At first I always thought I forgave but I hadnt really forgiven because I would bring it up to my best friend in conversation about the topic so that means I didnt forgive the person in that situation like i thought i had forgiven them. But now i know they are forgiven and i can forgive others and it feels so much better that i can do that now along with admitting when i am wrong in a situation. I couldnt forgive without God in my life and putting my faith in God.

    • Amen, Rachel. It is only with His strength and in His power that we can forgive. And God rewards our forgiveness in mighty ways!!!


  8. Forgiveness is the hardest thing to do in life. I wouldnt have been able to do that without God in my life. But I still found myself or back to that time when the hurt happen. I would love to found away to let it go and never look back on it again.

    • Jaime, I shared this above, but you don’t forget. It takes its rightful place in your life. It shaped you, but it doesn’t define you or limit you. It becomes a chapter, rather than your entire story.

  9. Wow. So much great stuff in this post. Would love the book for myself and my littles that are also learning this lesson in life. Thank you!

    • I love the term “my littles”. That’s why I began my journey so many years ago. I wanted to give my “littles” a strong momma, rather than one that was broken by her past.

      • Melissa Mason (@winsomsouls) says:

        Amen. Heb 12:15…I knew that the root of bitterness would defile them and the upcoming generations. I love them too much to give them anything less than the best I can. I often refer to them as Bigbit, Midbit and Lilbit. They are the best blessings of my entire life. So thankful.

    • How blessed your children are to have a godly mother who not only prays for them but desires to teach them biblical truths and live them our before them!!!



  10. wendelijn says:

    I just experienced the miracle of forgiveness and I praise God for an unburdened heart!
    It was Jesus leading me in this way only with Him all things are possible!
    Not just for me but for all of us!

    • And, Wen, your story is one of my FAVORITES!!! I would love for you to share it on my blog as a guest post one day when you are ready.

      Love you,


  11. I am looking forward to reading this book. I really need to understand “forgiveness” not only for my abuser but, more importantly, for me! I won’t have a successful healing journey if I don’t first forgive myself!

    • Wendy, God is the one who forgives us and He holds that forgiveness out to you freely. Rather than trying to forgive yourself, are you willing to scoop out of His generous love and mercy and accept that as a gift?

    • Amen to what Suzie said!! God offers us forgiveness with no conditions. We need only confess and He extends it and the moment He does, our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west!!!! We are washed white as snow. And when we experience His forgiveness, then we can extend it to others much easier!!



  12. Having gone through a painful, gut-wrenching divorce, I had to LEARN how to forgive. It is a daily choice I make, not a one time decision. My ex was a deacon in our church. People, especially children, looked up to him. He got involved with a woman 3000 miles from where we lived and after 21 years of marriage, he left. I went through every emotion imaginable..hatred, bitterness, rage, etc. I finally wrote a letter to him and this woman after they were married and shared the plan of salvation and told them I had forgiven them. I also explained that forgiveness doesn’t mean what they did was ok. In fact, I told them it was a sin against God first. It has been a tough 16 years but with God’s grace, I have survived. Someone asked me, “how did you make it?” My reply was you keep doing what you know to do…stay in church, spend time with the Lord and pray, pray, pray! Thanks for your ministry that reaches out to women. We need it so desperately!

    • In Chapter Four of The Unburdened Heart I share Carlie’s story. Her husband also left her, and her journey to forgive was both painful and the most healing of many of the stories I shared. She found that God asked her to forgive, not because He didn’t care about what happened to her, but because He knew her well and wanted to fill up the raw places inside from the very beginning. I hope that you will join us on for our Bible study. I’d love to share that with you next week as we explore her story and the scriptures and word “apolyo” that shows why God asks us to forgive, even when those we love prove unfaithful.

  13. Foregiveness is what opens up our heart to loving others and ourselves. It’s very freeing to know that no matter the circumstance, God is in control.

  14. I’ve heard much about this book and have been blessed by Suzie’s words in the past, so I’m looking forward to what she has to share! Bitterness and unforgiveness are NOT something I want to pass on to my children…so looking forward to another resource that will help me break the chain! Blessings to you both!

  15. Elizabeth says:

    I would love to win Suzie’s book. I am currently struggling with forgiving a few people from my past who hurt me deeply.

  16. This is an area God has shown me I really need to work through. Really struggle with some areas & sounds like this book could reaaly help.

  17. Gianetta Norwood says:

    I understand that forgiveness is so important as a Christian and for my growth. As many I struggle with how does it release me and if the person who I felt violated me would be punish. But I remember a verse “Every man is right in his own mind”. Several days ago I had a dream: My son was driving a car facing backwards. I realized it would be so much easier for him to drive facing forward. This dream related to letting go and releasing the past which is related to forgiveness.

  18. Polly Schneider says:

    I need a continual heart of forgiveness for my husband. We have been married 33 years and some of this time has been difficult due to him having Bipolar disorder. He has issues with sexual sin that has hurt me very much through the years. I have given this over yo the Lord often but sometimes I still feel angry and bitter. I very much need to read this book. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.

    • Polly, having family members who suffer with this disease, I know how difficult it can be. I admire your heart to want to treat your husband in the very best way you can, and I trust God will honor that. Below is a link to a prayer of forgiveness I have on my free resource page. I pray that the words in it will minister to your heart.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing from your heart.



  19. Nicci Ramirez says:

    Unforgiveness is such a stronghold for me….desperately trying to Let Go and Let God!

  20. Wendy,
    Just yesterday in the shower I asked God my Father to please touch my heart and show me how to forgive. I have been unable to forgive my grandmother (who has always been more of a mother to me since she and my grandfather raised me). In September of 2011 my grandfather, who I have always called “Dad,” was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was given 6-8 months to live. I was devasted. He was the only “Dad” I knew in my life. He was my hero, my mentor, my Knight in Shining Armor. It was very, very diffcult to see him slowly deteriorate right before my eyes and become feeble and emaciated as the disease ravished his body. He was in pain, he was scared, he was angry. There were times when he was on his meds (or maybe not on his meds) that he raged and cursed and got confused and lost all concept of time as he slept off and on throughout the day (no doubt because of his meds). He often asked us what day of the week it was or the date was but neither was relavent to him. During this time I feel as though my grandmother failed to step up and help care for him or try to make things comfortable for him. In fact, it appeared she made things worse. Whenever my Dad would yell for someone to attend to him in the middle of the night (he thought it was daytime) she would start whining and cry because he had yelled at her. Whenever he cursed (which he never did before he was sick) under the influence of his meds, she would run and “tattle” to her children (my aunts and uncles) and they would scold him sternly like a child. Whenever I would visit and spend precious quiet time sitting next to my Dad and straining to hear the words he murmured with great affort, she would tell everyone that I was ignoring her. Through the entire ordeal she whined and complained to anyone who would listen about being marginalized and ignored or mistreated because he had yelled at her. She would weep dramatically. She never once offered to do anything for my Dad.
    Since he died in January of 2012, I have not been back to the house where I grew up for two reasons. One, because it is too hard for me to visit and experience his absence. Two, I am so very angry with my grandmother for not being compassionate, caring, more nurturing and less self-centered and less selfish. I am struggling with the feelings that she should have been a better wife to my grandfather in the end when he lay dying. I wanted nothing more than to take his pain, comfort him, make his last months on the earth meaningful. She only wanted her sons and daughters to make him stop yelling and waking her up in the middle of the night. He was terrifyingly dying of cancer and she was thinking of herself.
    I know I need to forgive her, but I don’t know how or where to begin. I feel my Dad deserved more and better from her. He didn’t have to go out like that. No one deserves to go out like that. I have been asking God to please teach, show me, how to forgive her. I would very much like to read this book and I hope you will consider my entry for the contest.

  21. Forgiveness…I don’t even know where to begin! This is such a painful place for me to be. Bitterness…I never thought I would find bitterness but as circumstances continue on I have found it! I KNOW what God is telling me to do is true…I KNOW I need to forgive fully, completely…and I don’t know why it is so hard for me! I copied this prayer and have posted it in my house: 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. I’m ready to allow God to take my heart, mend my heart, forgive and have peace and joy! I would love to have a copy of this book…


  22. Teresa Kuhl says:

    Before I found Jesus, I was an active alcoholic/addict. I was also the mother of two. Becasue of the first truth, I fell pretty short in the second. As I came to know my Saviour and learned to live a sober life, I needed forgiveness to the nth degree. In the 20 years since, I have been blessed to usually be able to remember exactly where I came from and then I can’t wallow in unforgiveness for long. That being said, its much easier to say than to do. One of the biggest things I finally learned was that forgiving someone and trusting them again were two very different things. Forgiving did not mean what happened was OK. It just means I am no longer going to seek to right the wrong, to balance the scales. Instead, I leave that to the Lord. The choice for me to fogive is nearly automatic. The EMOTIONS take a bit to catch up now and then, but, I am so much farther down the road than I used to be!! There is always always always room to grow and mature in this area!

  23. Thanks for this interview, Wendy. At first, when I read the title, my heart tightened in fear. Many times Christians today make hurting souls feel guilty for not forgiving, and I was afraid to look into it further. But I took a deep breath and read on. Then as I was reading the first part of your book, Suzie, I thought, “Wow! This girl knows the struggle…” Thanks, Suzie, for following your heart and writing this book.

    Sometimes just when I think I forgave all who abused me spiritually, emotionally, and sexually, memories are triggered, and I feel like I’m back at square one. I have to grieve again, and I have to ask, “God, have I truly forgiven?” Forgiveness to me is a cycle of lifelong learning. And it doesn’t mean I need to be able to hug the person. It just means I need to leave him in God’s hands. Daily I have to give even my little, hidden grudges against people who have hurt me with words over to God’s redeeming love.

    I would love to have this book. 🙂

  24. Thank you both, working day by day, one foot in front of the other, trying to forgive my husband and step daughter for the pain that our family has suffered over the past 6 years. Also asking God to reveal the areas where my choices fueled the toxic environment of our home. Need to try to forgive myself as well. Thank you what great words of comfort and hope!
    karen g

  25. Sherri Jackson says:

    Wow…forgiveness is such a hard issue for lots of people. This book sounds really interesting.

  26. Catherine Shepard says:

    I think besides forgiving people for hurts from my past, the biggest one I need to forgive is God. I still harbor hurt and resentment for the turmoils of the past 8 years, dealing with mom’s illness (cancer – CLL) death and my own diagnosis (cancer-CLL). My head knows that He doesn’t give us cancer or make us ill (necessarily) but He allows this to be – some things are of my own doing I realize but still very hard. I lost my sounding board, my cheerleader, the one who was always in my corner from the time I was born – the one who gave me advice and dried my tears, kissed my booboos and hugged my hurts away. And God is the one who took her.

  27. I have read the introduction and chapter one. All I can say is what an awesome book.
    Thanks so much for sharing with us.

    I have so much unforgiveness in my life surrounding my mother’s death that this book would be a huge blessing to me.
    M. Waters

  28. When my sister got sick with cancer, I learned a lot about forgiveness but after she passed I found some places that were harder to forgive. Sounds like a great book!

  29. KAY PARRISH says:


  30. This sounds like a wonderful book! I have a friend that’s currently struggling with forgiveness. I think she needs to read Suzie’s book.

  31. Your message is right on time, as a coworker continues to shun me at work after I went to her and asked her forgiveness early in this new year, which she refused to do.. Another spiritual friend at work says I should let it go. That’s hard to do when one is confronted almost every weekday with the unsmiling face and gruding responses to my continued good morning. or any other interaction. As usual, it’s over something dumb, what time to set a table for a birthday celebration. I won’t bore you with the details, but that was the least of the issues in my opinion. I try to do as I always do when I take a rap, and just carry on, but I’m struggling with this one. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, but books do give us insight, and I love to read.

  32. Charlotte Askew says:

    When I was reading the interview, the following read like my own story:

    ‘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.’

    I have and still struggle with this same thing. It is like a up and down roller coaster ride. I know that I am blocking so many of God’s blessings upon me by continuing in this struggle. I want to learn to let it go, to invite God into that dark place with me. I want the freedom that comes from total and complete forgiveness.

    Maybe this book is what I need to read. I know God uses people to speak to us, so maybe He has chosen Suzanne to speak to my heart.

  33. Sounds like an awesome book. Thanks for the Chance to Win.

  34. I have been working on forgiveness for a while now. Recently, my mind wanted to go to a negative place and The Lord told me to take that negative thought and turn it around in a positive way. I have to admit, it was very freeing. However, there are times when I struggle with the negative thoughts and wonder to myself if I have truly forgiven the person for the hurt they have caused. The book Finding Freedom in Forgiveness sounds like a great tool that will help me through this.

  35. Anita Huddleston says:

    Guess I’m more of a Martha because I do the work that needs to be done. Then I will sit down and listen. BUT, if it was in the Lord’s time, I would want to sit and listen to Jesus.

  36. Debbie Fultner says:

    I feel that forgiveness is one of the most important part of a relationship with our Savior. I can usually forgive others except when a person continues the hurtful behavior. I also realized that I am still angry from 23 years and I have tried and tried to forgive. I would love a copy of the book.

  37. Meredith says:

    This book sounds amazing. I have been struggling with forgiveness for a few years now and I can’t seem to get over the hump. I want and need to move beyond this. I came across your book and it looks like it would help me out so much but I have not been able to get it yet. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. If you are still giving your books away I would feel blessed to receive one. In Him, Meredith

    • Hi, so excited you stopped by. This is an old post. But we do giveaways often on my post. Please sign up to receive my blog posts in your e-mail so you can know when we do giveaways. In fact, I will be announcing one tomorrow. To sign up, visit my blog and find the sign up box on the top right side of my blog. Just enter your e-mail address, and you are set!



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