(Review) The Unburdened Heart: Finding The Freedom of Forgiveness by Suzanne Eller
Publisher: Regal/Baker Publishing.
Genre: Nonfiction, forgiveness.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent.
Barnes and Noble
Forgiveness in the dictionary is defined as a noun. But, forgiveness is not just a noun it is an action of the heart, mind, and will. Further, Christ Jesus commands us to forgive.
Part one begins with explaining what forgiveness means and what it does not mean. Later in the book an explanation is given on forgiving self.
Page 58 has questions to ask to see if we need to work on forgiveness. These questions are pulled from another book by David Seamands, Healing for Damaged Emotions.
"1. Can you thank God for the lessons learned in pain?
2. Can you talk about the event without anger or feelings of revenge?
3. Have you accepted your part of the blame for what happened?
4. Can you revisit the scene without a negative reaction?"
Other quotes are used in the book from previous authors, for example: Dr. Irvin D Yalom-The Gift of Therapy, Kay Arthur's-When the Hurt Runs Deep, Patrick Fleming and Sue Lauber-Fleming-Shattered Soul, Charles Stanley's-The Gift of Forgiveness, and Lewis Smedes-Forgive and Forget.
There are three parts to the book, part one and three holds one chapter each, part two has several chapters.
"Part 1-What Is Forgiveness?
Part 2-What We Gain When We Forgive
Part 3-What's Next?"
Forgiving is laborious. It's sweaty-work. And it is often not achieved by one exclamation of-I forgive you."
Over 20 years ago, I read Forgive and Forget by Lewis Smedes. I read this book while going through a dark and troubling time. I was a baby Christian at this point, but working through forgiveness pushed me out of the nest and towards rapid growth in Christ Jesus. Hard times in life either cause growth or stagnation. I chose growth.
The Unburdened Heart is a perfect tool for a woman working through forgiveness. The book is not written for men, but for women. The illustrations and applications are female oriented.
One of the illustrations is a women betrayed by her husband's affair. Maybe the reader has not experienced this type of pain, but betrayal in some form is known to all.
A hard topic in forgiveness is: what if the other person is not asking for forgiveness? Eller approaches this topic with grace and help in chiseling away at this problem.
After reading The Unburdened Heart, my first thought is this is a book that does not just teach forgiveness, but also teaches peace. Peace is the absence of strife. Peace does not just happen, because this too requires work.
One of my favorite quotes from the book addresses the past:
When I consider the past, it's a small part of my identity. It shaped me, but it doesn't define me. It is a chapter in the book of my life; but if you read the back cover copy you will find so much more than my past in that description...When we begin to see ourselves through a larger lens, we revisit the past and point out with precision the parts we wish hadn't happened, as well as what has taken place since then. We also become scholars of the past, learning what we want to carry forward and what we wish to do differently. When we speak of the past, we give it its proper place. It's not ignored, but it doesn't receive a greater share than it deserves.I know family and friends who have magnified a certain event in their past. Something someone did to them or maybe they've done to themselves. They carry this memory tightly bundled on their back, every where they go they carry this bundle, they don't realize this event has gotten top billing. I loved Eller's point to not give this event "a greater share than it deserves."
The Unburdened Heart is a book for individual or group use. I believe this is a great book for a women's reading group.