Forgiveness, Paula Huston reminds us, stands at the center of the Gospel message, from oft-repeated words of the Lord's Prayer to Christ's final words on the Cross. The emphasis on loving those who do us wrong may well be what sets Christianity apart, ultimately, from other religions. Yet the road we must travel in order to realize true forgiveness is far from easy: in the end, Huston contends, it forces us to face our egos, our separation from God, and dark parts of ourselves that we would hide at all costs. As Huston guides her readers along this difficult path, she blends funny, heartbreaking (and wrenchingly honest) stories from her own experience with wisdom from C.S. Lewis, Hannah Arendt, Kierkegaard, Elie Wiesel, and Dostoevsky's novels. The chapters on 'preparing ourselves to forgive' draw heavily on the early church, especially the Desert Fathers' disciplines of guarding the heart and watching vigilantly over the thoughts. Only by undertaking the laborious task of knowing ourselves - our self-centered motives, our desire for moral superiority - can we avoid the recurrent pitfalls of self-justification, on the one hand, and false forgiveness (simply making ourselves feel better) on the other. Huston's easy, conversational narrative transforms the simple, yet daunting topic of forgiveness into a finely drawn roadmap whose beginning and end is never in doubt: God's incomparable mercy, pouring healing down upon a fallen, broken world. 298 pp.
An Eighth Day View:
Are you able to forgive those who have hurt you?
If you find it difficult to forgive, this book is your encouragement.
If you're having trouble accepting forgiveness for something you have done, this is your inspiration.
With honesty, writing about her own failings, Paula Huston examines the intellectual, psychological, social, and spiritual meanings of forgiveness. She asks tough questions and then offers possible solutions, drawing a portrait of a truly forgiving person.
"One of Jesus' most mind-boggling declarations is that we who hope to follow him must first be willing to forgive the people who have hurt us. Not only does this injunction show up at the heart of the prayer he offers to his disciples ("Give us this day our daily bread...") but he restates it as a requirement for salvation: "If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions." (Mt. 6:11-15)
"He also tells us that if we wish to live in relationship with God, we must first seek forgiveness from those we've hurt: "Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift." (Mt. 5:23-24). Our damaged relationships with other people, especially when we are responsible for that damage, have a direct effect on our friendship with God."