Month: March 2016

Forgiving the Unforgivable

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I’ve been mulling over how to put into words everything going on in my brain this week/month/year. My heart is heavy, my spirits are low and my mind is so full. I posted a Facebook status on Monday, that I deleted shortly after. It was emotional and personal and I find Facebook to be a bad platform (for me personally) to express those types of emotions (although blogging about it makes me feel vulnerable too). It essentially said that I was heartbroken about a recent news story, that 2016 has truly felt so heavy between deaths, illnesses and other stresses. We are only 3 months in and it has been so emotionally overwhelming. I have felt pretty low. But I also said that I have never held on to Jesus, like I have this year. After deleting the status, I did still feel like I needed to write and get some of this out, so here it goes. 

Last week, I went to confession (I’m Catholic, we must go at least once during Lent). I brought up a situation and individual who has done something, that I feel is unforgivable (it wasn’t done to me, but to others, to people who are defenseless, the sin/hurt they’ve committed is deplorable). I told Father that I did not feel that my unforgiveness was a sin, my heart is not harden to it, but that I just don’t understand what forgiveness looks like for this person, I don’t know how to reach forgiveness, to just let it go and not feel like I’m saying that what’s been done is okay or that they are off the hook. Forgiveness right now feels like I’m handing out a free pass. In most cases when we forgive, we are forgiving someone we love or care about. We forgive them because we want to, because they deserve it, because we want to keep the relationship whole. In this situation, I’m trying to find forgiveness for someone who isn’t remorseful. But I have built up a wall of anger around my heart because of everything that has transpired and feeling such despair is no place to live.

After I was done speaking, Father agreed that this lingering unforgiveness isn’t a sin/wrong but that the anger could become a footstool for it. That the way evil continues to win in this situation is to allow my anger to become more, consuming too much of me. That for him, pity should replace anger. Pity, because people who choose such severe evils, without remorse, without shame, are people so lost, who need redemption the most. And that forgiveness here doesn’t look like a loving embrace, but a letting go, a release.

I have thought, prayed and done several Bible studies in the past week, I mean serious soul searching. I have thought about the people I have hurt in the past (although never to quite this caliber, so it’s hard to even tell myself that others have forgiven me, why can’t I just get over it.) and how I have received forgiveness for my wrongs.  It’s funny how God has seemingly handed me exactly what I needed to read. Here are some points that have really struck me.

  • “Forgiveness frees us of the bitter demand of restitution.” (Author unknown) It means we don’t have to feel like what they’ve done is on our conscience anymore. It frees us. Sometimes unforgivness fees like a jail cell, we are trapped by injustice and hurt, making us (the innocent), the prisoner, essentially being wronged/hurt over and over. 
  • Forgiving can feel like allowing a wrong to go unpunished. It’s hard to forgive (especially when there is no remorse from the perpetrator) because we feel like some sort of justice needs to be served. But this means we hold on to anger, we continue to play everything out in our minds. Our unforgiveness ends up hurting us.
  • Unforgiveness/anger or nursing your hurt is a heavy burden to bear. You may allow the situation to consume more of you than it should.
  • Laying down everything, the pain, the unforgiveness, the anger, it does not mean that there is no justice/vindication.
  • “Never avenge your selves, but leave it to the wrath of God.” And when you lay it down, “God will pick it up.” (John Piper)

After reading through these thoughts while studying I felt like I finally grasped this different/harder level of forgiveness, the “undeserved forgiveness”. I hadn’t achieved forgiveness, just by reading all of this, but I felt like I understood what it looked like and maybe I could get to what it feels like. But I also felt like this applies to more than just forgiveness, but to any strife or struggle our hearts have (anxiety, heart break, anger, self loathing). Unburden yourself and be free of the constraints of negativity. Don’t let anger consume you, don’t let it destroy you. Although 2016 has had a little black cloud floating around, I know that a new dawn will come, that joy, hope and light will return. And in the mean time, I will mourn but grow in this storm.

February Book Reviews

the grown up

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

3/5 stars

This book is a short story. It can be read within a couple of hours (or 1). It was…different. Flynn also wrote Gone Girl which was a pretty big hit. All of Flynn’s novels are dark mysteries. The main character in this story, lives a fraudulent life as a palm reader/spiritual healer and meets a woman who asks her to come cleanse her home of evil spirits. She goes to the home and comes in contact with the son of the home owner who seems to be possessed. It gets weird and has an interesting and unexpected twist at the end. I can’t decide if it’s worth your time, but it’s a short enough book that if you’re looking for something quick and easy, it’s not the worst choice.

to-all-the-boys-ive-loved-before-9781442426702_hrTo All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

5/5 stars

You guys, I seriously loved this book. It’s a young adult novel and probably reads like such, but I loved getting wrapped up in it. I needed something lighthearted, easy and upbeat and this was perfect. It took me back to high school and made me want to be more like Lara Jean, who for a teenager, has such a great head on her shoulders. I loved the relationships she had with her family. Lara Jean has written letters to all of the boys she has ever loved and they “accidentally” get mailed out. The story doesn’t really focus on this but it’s the catalyst for everything else.  Great, easy read. I’m excited to read the next in the series.

 lakehouseThe Lakehouse by Kate Morton

3/5 stars

It took me nearly half of the book to really feel invested. I have a hard time starting and then stopping a book, although it’s not beneath me. I felt like this book made me just curious enough to keep reading. However, I figured out the plot twists pretty early in the book and I wasn’t surprised by the ending. I am not sure if it was obvious in the book or if it’s because I read a lot. The story is a mystery that jumps between present day and the past, focusing on one event, the day baby Theo went missing, a crime that has never been solved. The mystery catches the eye of a detective who is on leave from her job. I can’t decide if I should recommend this book or not, I think maybe it is better than I felt and it just didn’t capture me as much as it should have. Maybe I’ve read too many similar books to love this one.

red queen

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

5/5 stars

It took me next to no time to read this. It’s a YA novel, that has the same kind of lure that The Hunger Games or Divergent did for me. The story follows Mare, a Red girl (her blood is red) living in a world where the Silver (silver blood) rule. The Silver have different powers (super strength, mind reading, etc) while the Red do not. However, Mare is about to discover something about herself that changes everything. I’m excited to continue her story, full of adventure, mystery and betrayal.  Trust no one.

steel scars

Steel Scars  by Victoria Aveyard

5/5 stars

This is book 0.2 of the Red Queen series. It follows a secondary character-Farley and provides information for her backstory and how she fits into the story. It also follows Mare’s older brother as well, which gives you a lot of insight you didn’t have in Red Queen. It’s short and really just a supplemental. (I wish JK Rowling did short supplemental stories like this for Harry Potter!)

queen song

Queen Song by Victoria Aveyard

4/5 stars

This is considered book 0.1 of the Red Queen series, however it doesn’t matter if you read Steel Scars before or after it.  It’s the backstory of the Queen (Coriane, mother of Prince Cal) that reigned before the current one (the wretched Queen Elara). It’s short and simple and sad. I don’t feel like it was as important as Steel Scars but it was still interesting to read what took place and how Queen Elara came to reign. I was slightly confused by the ending and I’m not sure I entirely understood what took place. Was everything in Queen Coriane’s head or was it Elara? (I technically finished this book on 3/1/16, but most was read on 2/29)

Note: Read Red Queen before you read either supplemental.

little prince

The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery

5/5 stars

I have been meaning to read this book for so long and finally did (thanks for the loan Kayleigh!). This is one of those stories that will be so great to read aloud to the kids as they get older. It’s full of allegory (some that may have went over my head) and makes you look at the world/life through a child’s eyes again. A little boy has left his little planet to travel through the universe and he meets an array of characters. The one that really stuck out to me was the man who was just so “busy”, so busy he didn’t even know what he was busy with. How often do we get caught up in things that make us busy but aren’t important? Many of the stories focus on adult behaviors, that when you really look at them, are such time wasters. It’s a good reminder to live life with the heart and spirit of a child.

cinder

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

5/5 stars

This is the first book of The Lunar Chronicles, recommend to me by my friend Sheryl.  I didn’t even realize that it’s a retelling of sorts of the classic Cinderella (thanks for pointing that out to me Jason!). It follows a cyborg named Cinder, who lives life basically as a slave to her ward/step-mother, as a mechanic. She meets Prince Kai and slowly falls in love. However, there is a deadly virus that has spread every where, there is no cure and once you have it, you are sent away to die, slowly and alone (alone with other dying people). Cinder learns a lot about herself in this book, much of which completely changes her life and could change the fate for all of humanity/cyborgs/lunars. I realize how sci-fi and geeky it sounds, but it’s great.

memory o flight

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork

3.5/5 stars
(mild spoilers)

This book was hard for me to read, having just lost a friend to suicide. I put a request in for it in January, before the death happened. Even though I wasn’t sure I should read it right now I’m glad I did. I think it has a lot of great insights on suicide, depression and mental illness in general. All of which aren’t something you just get over, something that can just be ignored. The story’s main character, Vicky wakes up in the hospital after just nearly dying of an overdose. Vicky truly wanted to die, her attempt wasn’t a cry for help, it was a miracle she was found in time. The story follows her recovery and 3 other teenagers who are also at the hospital for different illnesses/problems (anger management, manic depressive and possible schizophrenia).  I felt like this book did a great job of showing that even thought you have a mental illness (which is nothing to be ashamed about), that you can overcome it, by therapy, making plans for what your life can look like, etc. There is always hope.

I plan on diving into some longer reads in March!

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