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Welcome to the conversation on Chapter 7 of Lara Williams’ book, To Walk or Stay.

I am so honored to host today’s book club chat!!  (I’d love for ya’ll to join the conversation by leaving a comment responding to the questions found at the bottom of the post.  And better yet, feel free to engage with other comments to keep the conversation alive and moving!)

To Walk or Stay Book Club

Today we’re getting real about betrayal, revenge, and forgiveness.

Lara says in chapter 7, “In the days following my discovery of the betrayal, revenge felt so right…and though our merciful God did allow me some time to grieve, He wouldn’t let me stay in that place of bitterness.  For bitterness poisons the soul.”

…”but beneath all my emotions and justifications, I knew He was calling me to live beyond myself.  I knew He was calling me to forgive.

This is a radical chapter.  About living radical love.  The kind of love that breeds REAL freedom in our lives.  Loving so radically can seem counter-cultural.  But truthfully, it’s the way to abundant life.  This sort of radical love is looks like offering forgiveness;  choosing to remember no more, even when we have a “right” to stay angry.

And because Jesus loves us, and wants the best for us, He commands us to forgive.  Just as He forgave us.  Because in forgiveness, we find freedom for our souls.

I loved Lara’s honesty in this chapter; how she candidly shared that in the midst of her “marriage pit” she called an old professor, looking for sympathy.

“I was hoping and assuming he’d take my side…wanting him to say things like ‘you poor thing’ or ‘do you want me to hurt him for you?’  But instead, he pointed me to Jesus.”

Ahh!  Can you identify with wanting to throw a massive pity party, and inviting a few friends to help you make sure it’s a good one?  I can totally picture myself having these  thoughts and feelings!  Pursuing sympathy more diligently than healing.  Wanting others to affirm my raw feelings and to tell me I have every right to seek revenge.  (Lord help me in my raw moments, and send me friends who will point me to YOU!)

But, truly, no matter the degree of pain we have faced in life, bitterness is what waits for us if we cannot let go and “choose to remember no more”.  The pity party seems inviting and justified, but quickly gets dark, cold and lonely.  If we choose to stay in our pit of unforgiveness, we are the ones who suffer.  Forgiveness may feel costly and impossible in the moment of our pain, but unforgiveness will harden our hearts and rob us of the life Jesus died to give us.

Faith grows quote from To Walk or Stay

Lara nails it in this chapter, and it comes down to this, sisters.  Trusting God with our hearts.  When we trust God with our hearts, and our hurts, we begin to live beyond those hurts, and delve into a life of freedom and victory.  And this happens as we release our pain to Him.  When we trust that He is able to heal us, even of our most awful wounds.  And when we trust that He is the final judge who judges all rightly, we are then able to step into His grace and offer forgiveness to those who wound us.

“When we live in the place where our heart rests in the hands of our Maker, we find a freedom to love through forgiveness…forgiveness doesn’t mean (our) approval of (our) offender’s sin.  Instead, (we) simply release them and release judgment to the only One who judges perfectly.”

Here’s an awesome (and funny) video of Lara about real, everyday forgiveness.  And below, are questions that I’d LOVE to be the start of a great book-club discussion through the comments section.

*Do you identify with wanting to wallow in your hurts, cling to bitterness and throw a rockin’ pity party?  It’s hard to let go, isn’t it?  When you harbor unforgiveness, what have you noticed it does to your soul?

*What struggles do you have with forgiveness?

*When you have chosen forgiveness, how have you seen forgiveness free your soul?

(If you want to check out Lara’s blog, click here.  If you are interested in buying the book, click here.)