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To forgive, we need to connect — and correct — the dots of our story

barely cracked the pages of Lysa TerKeurst’s new book, Forgiving What You Can’t Forget: Discover How to Move On, Make Peace with Painful Memories, and Create a Life That’s Beautiful Again,” when I was confronted with a deep stirring in my heart. 

With each page, words jumped into my heart. I gained hope that forgiveness was not only attainable, but freedom also was possible. 

Forgiveness is a subject we often preach about, teach as a command to follow and encourage one another to do. Yet, we don’t have a map revealing how to forgive, how to heal the wounds of a broken heart, how to pick up the pieces of shattered dreams. There is no quick fix for pain. You can’t just pray it away and your heart is healed. 

Forgiveness is work, a choice and a process. 

Suffering is all around us and in our lives — abuse, neglect, infidelity, divorce, betrayal, financial hardship. Whatever it is, there is a way forward. Allow God to use this book as a compass for your personal map to healing. 

TerKeurst’s style of writing is personal. She invites readers to take a seat around her gray table and listen as she shares her story of deep pain and loss. She gently walks the reader through the forgiveness process, leading with the truth she received from professional help combined with God’s healing grace. 

She acknowledges that this book won’t be an easy read. Don’t expect to pick it up and be done in a few days.

“We all have a story. And then we all have a story we tell ourselves,” TerKeurst writes. “Revisiting the past can be scary. But if you want to fully heal, we need to dig into our stories to understand what’s behind the curtain.”

Even though it’s hard, TerKeurst urges us to lean in. 

When Jesus hung on the cross, some of his last words were, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:24). We often don’t know what we do, but we do it anyway. We wrestle to embrace forgiveness as a spiritual discipline because we often lack the emotional framework to move into a place of peace. 

Leaning into your story, and the story you tell yourself, brings understanding and allows you to lay a healthier emotional framework

Leaning into your story, and the story you tell yourself, brings understanding and allows you to lay a healthier emotional framework. TerKeurst calls this collecting and connecting the dots. You collect what you know and then connect for deeper understanding. As we heal, we learn to correct the dots. 

This is hard work. 

When we look into our hearts, we can examine the stories we tell ourselves. Are we stumbling into unforgiveness we didn’t know was lurking about? Or tripping on the root of bitterness that’s crept in? This self evaluation helps us correct the dots, so the stories we tell ourselves are the stories we truly live.

Shelly Kellis

Shelly Kellis

This is intimate teaching, risky even. TerKeurst encourages us to become vulnerable and embrace our humanity with humility as we learn to correct the dots and the narrative of our lives with forgiveness. 

Humility in our humanity, isn’t that the way of Christ? 

If you vow to lean in and sit at her table, you may find your coffee gets cold as your heart begins to soften. Combining “Forgiving What You Can’t Forget” with your own professional help may be just the help you are looking for. 

SHELLY KELLIS lives in Sanford, Maine, and worships with the Greater Portland Church of Christ in South Portland. She is a photographer, writer and speaker.

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Filed under: forgive forgiveness Forgiving what you can't forget Lisa TerKeurst Reviews Top Stories

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