Tyndale House Publishers
It’s hard to believe another year and writing deadline has passed since we first got acquainted in Scandalous Grace.
While we’ve been apart, I’ve attempted to make further peace with “The Poodge” (i.e. the lower portion of the abdomen that refuses to lie down, mind its own business, and go away) by purchasing the books and products of Bill Phillips’ Body for Life, Atkins Diet Plus! Medifast liquid drink, as well as a twomonth stint with Weight Watchers. I was doing okay until those pesky holiday seasons arrived (Easter, Thanksgiving, Groundhog Day, the entire month of December), and as a result I ended with a final net loss of .2 pounds and nearly $600 from the old checkbook register.
During the same period of time, I contemplated digesting a dietary supplement endorsed by notorious model-reality television diva, Anna Nicole Smith. I was reading through a People magazine while standing in the checkout lane of Target when I came across a two-page photo insert of said diva. Gasping in alarm (note: Anna was fully clothed) I was taken aback by her claim of having lost more than 55 pounds with the help of the nutritional supplement TrimSpa. Immediately I wanted the answer to one question and one question only: Where do I buy TrimSpa?!
Quickly enough I found myself standing in the diet aid aisle of Walgreens and reaching for The Holy Grail of weight loss potential. I could almost feel myself losing weight just holding the jar. Giddy with excitement (and fantasies of size 4 clothes shopping), I began to scan the ingredients list. Most of it read like an unknown language with the exception of a bold disclaimer at the bottom of the bottle:
Warning: If you are allergic to shellfish, please consult your physician before taking this product.
Well, it figures I’d find myself on the cusp of weight loss nirvana, only to have it snatched from my chubby grasp! But then I considered buying it anyway. After all, I tried to tell myself, it isn’t like I have a serious allergy to shellfish. Nah . . . all a little shrimp does to my system is puff it up like a blowfish, constrict my airway, and raise hives the color of purple Kool-Aid everywhere on my body.
Sometimes my ability to not think at age 38 astounds even me.
So here we are again: chick to chick, author to reader, and most importantly, girlfriend to girlfriend. I thought it wise—given the time since we last spoke—to kick off our time with another round of hanky wave truth.
For those new to the ranks allow me to give a brief explanation.
While speaking to women nationally and internationally, I’ve discovered that many audiences assume speakers somehow live above the fray of real life. Perhaps it has something to do with our standing on a platform, holding a microphone, or being able to get ready that morning in a hotel room with few, if any, distractions. Whatever the case may be, more than one woman has shared with me her preconceived notions of speakers having it all together and managing to do so with seemingly perfect smiles, perfect bodies, perfect families, and perfect stories of success. (It’s important to note that women believed such things prior to meeting me.) Well, I think God has personally put me on this earth to blow that whole image to smithereens. Just ask my husband, my kids, or check out my thighs!
Everyone needs help along the journey of life because nobody has life “all figured out.” All of us have our areas in which we thrive, and areas in which we just survive, sometimes only barely. But by walking down the path together, we can figure it out—and have a lot more fun. And that’s just what hanky wave truth brings—fun among women by creating a connection between myself, the readers of this book or my audience when I speak, as well as individual participants seated (or reading) near one another.
I’ve found the most effective and laugh-out-loud enjoyable manner of accomplishing this is through the use of a linen hanky and a few snappy, slightly dysfunctional, and estrogenlaced observations and comments. Observations you can agree or commiserate with—and then, of course, show your female support by wildly waving a hanky back. Of course, one is not limited to a mere hanky for the wild waving. Feel free to grab a Kleenex, diaper wipe, stretched-out bra, or a crumpled receipt from your last credit card purchase. It really doesn’t matter the type of hanky as long as your hand and attitude are attached to it, and you’re ready to wave.
So, without further ado—grab a hanky or faux stand-in, assume “the position,”* and prepare to identify as tens of thousands of fabulous chicks before you have!
* If you believe all forms of cosmetic surgery should be covered by any and all insurance policies under a deductible co-pay of $10—give me a hanky wave.
* If you’ve ever one-handedly removed your bra while driving five miles over the speed limit and never lost your lane—give me a hanky wave.
* If you’ve ever bought a pair of painful shoes just because they made your calves look fabulous—give me a hanky wave.
* If you’ve ever quoted the Real Woman Bad Food Motto, “I made this food, you will eat this food, and I don’t care how bad you think it tastes”—give me a hanky wave.
* If you understand the medicinal power of chocolate in that it makes you “feel better”—give me a hanky wave.
* If you’ve ever watched a beautiful woman walk into a room and said to yourself, Yep, I hate her—give me a hanky wave.
* If you have ever wanted to slam into the back end of the car in front of you just because the following sticker was attached to their bumper—“Proud Parent of an A+ Honor Student”—give me a hanky wave.
* If you’d like to purchase a bumper sticker that reads, “Stressed Parent of a C- (Barely) Student”—give me a hanky wave.
* If you have discovered that kneecaps, as well as breasts, can droop and go off course—give me a hanky wave.
* If you ever told someone you forgive them but crossed your fingers behind your back while doing so (and you were over 30 when you did it!)—give me a hanky wave.
* If you know how to spell forgiveness but sometimes don’t feel like you have a clue what it really means—give me a hanky wave.
Whoo-ha! It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same.
You have once again officially entered the Real Woman Reading Zone. And for the next few hours, days, or weeks (hey, we women all have multiple interruptions, so no guilt!) it takes to read this book, I want you to have your own “Girls Night Out.” But you have to do something first. Lose any and all forms of body shapers or bras (yes, you read me right). I want you to throw off any and all encumbering straps or confining stretches of spandex. Let your body breathe, woman! Then find your most comfortable spot. Jump back into bed, run some bathwater, or sit in your favorite chair. Whatever the place . . . just get there. And once you’re finally settled, read.
Read and laugh.
Read and cry.
Read and sigh.
Read and say aloud, “That is so me!”
In Radical Forgiveness, we’re going to talk about . . . well, forgiveness. Not “Forgiveness in 5 Easy Steps”—because there is no such thing. Anyone who sells you a “light and easy” forgiveness is really selling something worthless, for it certainly won’t last.
Instead we’re going to talk about what it really means to forgive those who have hurt you, to forgive yourself for the dumb things you’ve done, and to forgive God for what he has— or hasn’t—done in your life.
Along the way I’ll reveal some of the areas I struggle with— not so you can see how bad or good of a person I am, but because we are fellow travelers on the road.
What does true forgiveness have to do with your “here and now”? And why is it so important? Even more, is getting over the forgiveness hump really worth all the work (groan)?
Radical, cleansing forgiveness means walking away from sin, shame, fear, and disappointment. It means facing each day with a lighter burden, a lighter heart, and a new purpose to look ahead. (Turn back to the beginning of this chapter and reread the quote by Lewis B. Smedes. Wouldn’t you like to feel that way every day?)
God is calling you to a life of freedom—to a life that’s radically redeemed by his truth. A life that isn’t perfect, because no life is perfect on this earth. But a life in which you can be released of everything that weighs you down and live daily in the light of a forgiveness that is so total, so profound, so sweeping, and so satisfying that you will be radically changed! Right here and right now you can have a new zest for life, a new hope for the future, and a new and radical freedom!
Julie Ann Barnhill
These quotes have acted as stepping-stones on my own journey toward understanding God’s radical forgiveness. Perhaps they’ll do the same for you.
A true Christian is a sign of contradiction—a living symbol of the Cross. He or she is a person who believes the unbelievable, bears the unbearable, forgives the unforgivable, loves the unlovable, is perfectly happy not to be perfect, is willing to give up his or her will, becomes weak to be strong . . . and finds love by giving it away.
JOSEPH ROY, Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 4.
And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing.
2 CORINTHIANS 1:10, The Message, 2095.
Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.
LEWIS B. SMEDES, quoted on http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/149/55.0.html. The quote is from “Forgiveness—The Power to Change the Past,” an article that originally appeared in the January 7, 1983, issue of Christianity Today.
If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each person’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE
Whoever approaches Me walking, I will come to him running; and he who meets Me with sins equivalent to the whole world, I will greet him with forgiveness equal to it.
E. W. HOWE
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.
EPHESIANS 1:7 (NASB)
We all agree that forgiveness is a beautiful idea until we have to practice it.
C. S. LEWIS, quoted in Draper’s Book of Quotations for the Christian World, edited by Edythe Draper (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992), Entry 4104.
Forgiveness is the scent that the rose leaves on the heel that crushes it.
At some point you pardon the people in your family for being stuck together in all their weirdness, and when you can do that, you can learn to pardon everyone.
ANNE LAMOTT, Traveling Mercies
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
GALATIANS 5:1 (NIV)