Sometimes I think we, as writers, end up writing about things that are personal to us whether we want to or not. Forgiveness wasn't something I set out to include in this book, but I can't think of a more universal struggle. We all know we should forgive, but it's the how that escapes us...
And sometimes, even when we think we're over something, it comes back to bite us later... and we realize that thing we thought we'd dealt with still holds up shop in our hearts.
This is a strong theme through all three of the Sweethaven novels, and I think that's because it's a strong theme in my own life. I don't come buy forgiveness easily. It's not sitting on my doorstep waiting to be invited inside. It hides out in the dark spaces of the back yard... and if I want it, I have to go searching for it.
And sometimes I do because I know it's what I need...but other times? I close the door, turn of the light and walk away, taking my bitter feelings with me, letting them fester... In Sweethaven, Jane does this a little bit. And she's justified...anyone would harbor anger in her shoes...but that anger, it eats us up...
So she journals her through it. With photos. Like a paper crafter.
I asked two incredibly talented paper artists to create pieces based on this idea of forgiveness... this elusive, yet freeing idea. They blew me away.
Look at this art journal page by the insanely talented Tammy Tutterow:
It's SO gorgeous and I love the rectangular size of it. (I fully intend to create something this size!)
But it's what Tammy said about the project that I find most inspiring...
Tammy: "At this time last year I was in a really tough place in life. I had been hurt and deceived by someone very close to me and my world felt completely torn apart. I tried to keep a very happy public face, but inside and in the confines of my home I was feeling complete devastation. I didn't know where to turn or what to do. I felt like I was swimming up river with a boulder strapped to my ankle.
Although I have struggled with issues of faith my whole life, I knew that I had to surrender the pain to something larger than myself, that I alone could not fix the person, the situation, or my response to it. Through everything, I knew that a large part of healing and moving forward would be in forgiving the person who had hurt me so deeply. I couldn't even wrap my mind around how to forgive or even what truly forgiving someone meant. I thought forgiving meant to just forget and to tell the person what they had done was ok. It wasn't ok and I really wasn't sure I could ever let it go. I am not one to share personal things or to reach out to others but I did and was led to some really wonderful resources. One was THIS ARTICLE on the Focus on the Family website.
As I sat down to create this project with the focus on forgiveness, I kept thinking of butterflies. When faced with difficult times and difficult situations at the hands of others, we can continue to crawl in the grief of the circumstances, or we can forgive, let go, and be free to fly. It didn't happen overnight, but eventually I chose to forgive the person who had hurt me.
At this time last year, I thought about the situation and concept of forgiveness every single day. As I worked on this page, I realized I hadn't thought about it in weeks, maybe even months. I think that was a sign that I had let it go and was finally flying free. I chose to create the stamped images of the page so that they looked very fluid, as a reminder of the tears that were shed. The symbolism of it though is that despite tears, there is beauty and vivid color and freedom to fly.
The memory will never go away, but the pain does through forgiveness. As I worked on my page, I searched for a quote to include about forgiveness and very quickly found one by H. Jackson Brown Jr, the author of Life's Little Instruction Book:
"Never forget the three powerful resources you always
have available to you: love, prayer, and forgiveness."
Those were the three things I clung to in those dark days and those are the things that helped carry me through.
Tammy's story is so inspiring...I especially like that she mentioned that it doesn't happen overnight. It doesn't for any of us, does it? Not even the characters in my book have eveyrthing all wrapped up with a pretty red bow...
Tammy is still writing her story...you can find more of it on her blog HERE .
Stacey Michaud also tackled this subject of Forgiveness by scrapbooking about a relationship that helped teach her how to forgive:
In this case, Stacey is also scrapbooking an important lesson, and it celebrates the fact that despite the hurts of the past, she could, with the help of a good friend, move past it and forgive.
What a gift, don't you think? The peace of mind that comes with forgiveness.
I know, it's so easy to say that but even as I do I find myself mentally repenting and trying to come to terms with the hurts of the past...
How about you? Do you struggle to forgive? Do you journal through it? What helps you with those feelings of anger and hurt? I'd love to hear...