Dedication

Thanks be unto Christ for springin' me out of the twilight zone. For the extraordinary measures taken to untangle this little sheep from the thickets of obscurity and lovingly carry me home.

Jesus, you are who you say you are. I am who you say I am.

I believe. (Except for the times I collapse in a heap on the floor and wail from a place so painful and desperate and raw that I make sounds only dogs can hear--in which case I pray: I believe, Lord. Help me with my unbelief!")

And then I believe. Again.

 

--Wendy Redroad

BOHEMIAN FORGIVENESS: An Unconventional Path to Forgiving What You'll Never Forget

Introduction: Just 'Tween Us Girls

"Grace means you're in a different universe from where you had been stuck, when you had no way to get there on your own."

--Ann Lamott

 

 I know why I must forgive. I bet you do, too. So if neither of us needs of another spiel on forgiveness, what makes this Bible Study so special? Free-spirited insight from a bohemian who took the forgiveness-road less traveled. Traumatized by years of abuse and betrayal, I couldn't find my way back to wholeness with usual words of encouragement. I tried to forgive by way of conventional wisdom, but in the end my broken heart beat to the sound of a different drum.

 Say, for example, your husband enjoys "extra curricular activities" and is abusive in ways that justify a trip to divorce court. Straight away well meaning Christians offer blessed assurance: God can heal your marriage! (No mention of your heart or your mind.) Prayer teams assemble on your behalf. Your pastor kicks off a series on forgiveness, and you search your purse for an Altoid having just vomited in your mouth a little. If you're a book nerd, you schlep to the bookstore in search of guidance off the treacherous road on which you stand. My friend, you have a choice to make, but what if you're too wounded to forgive in a single prayer-filled bound?

In 2013, I am that jilted book nerd. Sexually abused throughout my childhood and now facing marital abandonment, I collapse in a fragile heap on the floor of the Christian Living Section. From the corner of my eye I spy a most perplexing title authored by a leader I love and respect: Let It Go: Forgive So You Can Be Forgiven. I recall crying myself to sleep in the guestroom as my husband dreams of the single life. I am faithful. I am loyal. I stayed and prayed for years despite numerous betrayals. And yet death circles overhead, a vulture waiting to pick over the lifeless pieces of my marriage. Let it go? Forgive so I can be . . . respectfully, Sir, how?

Deflated, I limp to the self-help section where I discover a more suitable title given my circumstances: So The Bastard Broke Your Heart, Now What? After weeks of crying Oprah's infamous "ugly cry," I laugh out loud when nothing--and I mean nothing, about my life is funny.

So if you're hanging on by a very thin thread, as Rod Tidwell said to Jerry in Jerry Maguire: I dig that about you! And while a woman in crisis is no laughing matter, I know laughter's ability to smooth the jagged edges of a broken heart. It's been said that necessity is the mother of invention. What I needed was validation, with no pressure to slap a forgiveness prayer on a story I hadn't even begun to process. Little did I know the Father of creation would inspire me to draw a map for Bible-study-girls gone wild with emotion.

As our journey together unfolds, my hope is that in the midst of tears and mighty meltdowns you'll find yourself laughing out loud and thinking: I can't believe she just said that! And when the last page is turned and we bid one another farewell, my hope is that you will hold fast to the One who holds fast to His daughters through the valley of the shadow of death, where unfailing love transforms the ashes of loss into bohemian beauty.

You are not alone. You are lovable--so very worthy of authentic love. Hold out for it, sister. "Travel in peace. The mission you are to accomplish is from the Lord" (Judges 18:6 ISV).

 

Wendy Redroad