Remembrance played and mostly without words until the words were given to me, and then it replayed with those words. I understood things like disappointment, grief, betrayal, unkindness. There were other words too, words that stung more than the first. But honestly, I knew these words all my life. Even if I dared not acknowledge them out loud, I heard them in thought, and that made the prison darker.
Forgiveness feels elusive when tied impossibly to reconciliation. I churned in a cycle of loss and sadness. Heavy-hearted. Weighted down.
I owned enough Christian books, and books on forgiveness. I wondered why forgiveness was so academic, cerebral ... and almost like lip service. If forgiveness was the posture a Christian was supposed to take, why did it seem to look nothing like Jesus? Where was the celebration for the lost son? Not from Christians I'd seen. (Sometimes not even in myself. It's easy to forgive a child, or a sincere friend, but much harder when unkindness is done on purpose.) Deeds and actions speak beyond polite proclamation.
If I ever had to reduce my bookshelf to the top ten, Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers by Leslie Leyland Fields and Dr. Jill Hubbard would be on it. It finally made sense of the forgiveness and reconciliation imbalance. It finally got me out of a platitudinal forgiveness to one that looks behind the scenes and into a heart of compassion and understanding. It was about fathers and mothers, and it wasn't. Other names called out too, and I found us all broken and human, all hurting and not even knowing it.
Of many points that hit close, one is remembering well. Memories can be used to keep closed the prison gates, or to open them to freedom. Remembering well unlocks those doors, instead of keeping them stuck, to see the good that God brings from hurt. Joseph was betrayed by those closest to him, and yet was able to say from a standpoint of understanding and forgiveness, "What you meant for harm, God used for good." Remembering well uses memory and the past to be a blessing.
It surprised me (that time of) mourning would be so physical. It surprised me it lasted so long. And while I sometimes (struggled to) employed the "fake it till you make it" strategy, God wouldn't let me off the hook. Apparently, there's no faking it in God's kingdom--which is good, because when God says I'm forgiven, I know he means it.
(Edited to say, I read this book because of a recommendation/review published by Ann Voskamp. I am not compensated for reading it, writing about it, or wanting to buy lots of people a copy of it if I hit the Lotto and went on a spending spree.)