Wednesday, July 18

The Miracle of Forgiveness

The act of forgiveness, believe it or not, is a two-way process--in order to obtain complete forgiveness, we must first do the most difficult of all things: forgive ourselves. While many books have been written on this subject, they all spell out the same conclusion--forgiveness can open doors to a whole new universe of prospects and wonders. It opens our eyes to see the things that we've never seen before, though they may have always been there in front of us.

But forgiveness is so much more than just an act; it's about closure and giving ourselves the permission and freedom to move forward.

In Chris Bohjalian's Midwives, the protagonist faces her past and the guilt that it brings everyday. The consequences of her decision to perform a cesarean section on a woman whom she thought was dead in order to deliver the baby haunt her like a plague. And while she fights for her innocence, she must free herself from the guilt that she harbors for years. Ultimately, she must forgive herself before anyone can.

This journey of forgiveness, as simple as it sounds, is anything but simple. It is a long and tedious process, on which we must inevitably embark at least once in our lives. It is salvation in the most subtle manner. Imagine being burdened by a bad decision that you wish never existed; it can potentially pull us down to a very dark place. We may smile and attempt to live a normal life, but that black seed in us will fester. It will eventually be the end of us and our happiness, the long pursuit of all men.

Traveling to that dark place in our lives and confronting our guilt so that we may forgive ourselves and ultimately move forward becomes the main underlying subject for Kim Edward's The Memory Keeper's Daughter. When a doctor gives up his newborn daughter because of Down Syndrome, lying to his wife that the baby was stillborn, his life suddenly changes for the worse. That dark moment in his life that he is trying so hard to hide eventually surfaces, and it is now much larger than anything he is prepared to face. Again, Edwards show that while it is easy for people to forgive each other, it is never the same when it comes to forgiving ourselves. We may have to go through the fires of hell and back, and even that may not always be sufficient.

In The Housekeeper's Son, Eleanor Rose, my protagonist, goes through life like a ghost, not really existing, but merely there. A shadow of her past looms above her at all times--one decision she made many years ago sits heavily on her conscience. And when she is faced with the opportunity to redeem herself, she takes it, even if she has to give up everything she has, including her freedom to live. But even with such a sacrifice, her guilt does not go away until she makes one ultimate decision--forgiving herself.

The tales of these protagonists in their amazing journey of forgiveness are worth telling because forgiveness is a process everyone has to muster through. And oftentimes, it becomes one of our best kept secrets. The beauty of such stories does not only lie in the way they are written, it lies in the way they shape our lives, giving us a glimpse of hope in everything that is bleak. Because sometimes, a glimpse is all we need to conquer our fear. And when all is said and done, that dark place inside us will also be the place where most lights are born.

People say, forgive and forget. But as authors, we know very well that we never forget.

If you haven't had a chance to read The Housekeeper's Son, get yourself a copy by visiting my website (click here). You may also download an ebook version on your Kindle, Nook, and iBook.

Comment below and share with me about one book that takes you on a journey of forgiveness.


Liesel K Hill said...

Great post, Chris! For me, the first book about true forgiveness that struck me in a heavy way was The Scarlet Letter. It's a classic, and for good reason. I really like the line near the end of the post where you say, "Sometimes a glimpse is all we need to conquer our fear. And when all is said and done, that dark place inside us will also be the place where most lights are born." Can I quote you on that? It's awesome! :D

Christopher Loke said...

I'm glad you enjoyed reading this post. And yes, you have my permission to quote me.

Teri Harman said...

Beautiful and insightful. I agree with Liesel on that quote - very quotable and touching.

I'm currently reading "Here Burns My Candle" by Liz Curtis Higgs and forgiveness plays a major role in the story. The hardest being a wife trying to find a way to forgive a husband for infidelity. As much as it pains her, she chooses to love and forgive, instead of condemn.

Thanks, Chris! And the blog looks fabulous!

Christopher Loke said...

Thank you so much for reading and sharing. I am planning to blog more, because I love a good discussion. Thank you!

Jennifer Griffith said...

I just read Donald Maass's HOW TO WRITE THE BREAKOUT NOVEL. It says that one thing writers can do to make our characters have incredible strength (and therefore be memorable and inspiring and standout) is to give them a tremendous antagonist and then forgive. So, this post reinforces that theory. Good points, Christopher.

Christopher Loke said...

Thank you, Jennifer. A great character is one that has flaws and then through the flaws, overcome all his challenges. Sometimes, he fails, which may also make an amazing story. It's not the destination that matters, it's the journey.