This is a copy of my review at my blog: Femmedelettres.blogspot.com:
I just finished reading the most amazing book: Choosing Forgiveness, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It took me the entire month of August (interspersed with other books of course), as I wanted to ponder and absorb its truths. I borrowed it from my local library, but this is one of those books I must own, and read at least once a year. (I actually started listening to it as an audio book, which was gripping, but when the CD's skipped, I decided I just had to grab the book.)
Honestly, I don't know what drew me to the book, except Divine Providence. I never thought I needed a book on forgiveness. I don't exaggerate when I say I have been through numerous traumatic things in my life, pain wrought mostly by the cruel hands of others... but I thought I had forgiven my perpetrators. I do believe I had outwardly forgiven them, but in some ways I was still punishing those people, or holding them as emotional hostages, or even pridefully snubbing them. If they even noticed my sinful backlash toward them, they probably thought it was PMS-induced and went on their merry way. But, I was the one suffering inside.
One senses that DeMoss cares for her reader, which is why she risks telling us the truth. She maintains that everyone, even devout Christians, foster unforgiveness in their hearts to some degree, and she gently demonstrates this in her writing. She discusses the ways we subtly choose unforgiveness, the ramifications (even physical ones) of living in unforgiveness, and how we can choose, yes, choose to forgive those who have hurt or are hurting us (while drawing the distinction between forgiving someone and holding them accountable for their sin). She also discusses a sometimes neglected issue: self-forgiveness.
The part about vengeance really hit me:
Romans 12 tells us that "`Vengeance is mine. I will repay,' says the Lord." "Forgiveness releases the accused from your custody and turns him over to God... the one and only One who is both able and responsible for meting out justice." (p. 198)
Not having to take vengeance saves me much headache and stress. When I can just trust my heavenly father to take care of me, and to take care the 'bad guys' for me, then I can get on with my business of serving Him and helping others (she does remind us that "the memory of past hurts can provide a platform for ministry to other hurting people" p. 173).
But, while I must trust God to take vengeance, I am not allowed to hide my head in the sand: She stresses, "God does not want you to run away from your pain but to run to Him in the midst of your pain--to fly head-on into the full fury of it, to face it, to let Him meet you right where it hurts and give you the grace to be set free from any bondage to that hurt" (p.128). Wow!
The paragraph that really transformed my notion of suffering's purpose was this: "If you're a child of God, the ordeal you're undergoing, however wrong or unfair or heartless it may be or may have been, in His providence and skillful hands will be used to take you somewhere good--deeper into His heart, to a place of greater dependence and trust, more perfectly refined into the likeness of Christ" (P. 107, emphasis mine) Isn't this what we all long for? What if I embrace my suffering as a gift from God, instead of hiding from it, or engaging in bloody battle against it?
There are many practical and surprising insights in this book. Much of it is contrary to the way I've believed and behaved--which certainly has not been working. But, all of it is solidly based on scripture. The subtitle, Your Journey to Freedom, hints at the outcome of following DeMoss' advice: first, it is a journey, not a quick fix (hence why I must read it again); and second, it will bring freedom if you allow the Lord to use this book to reveal to you and heal you of your own unforgiveness.