4 out of 4 stars
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Sharing My Shoes A Walk through the Journey of Forgiveness by Tammy Gaffney is enlightening. It's a divinely inspired book that I can easily say encompasses her life's mission. Not only because it took her an incredible thirty-five years' to accomplish, but more importantly, she is a living testament to what forgiveness can do to a person, a family and ultimately to a society. Some of the personal revelations that the book spoke to me about is that "unforgiveness is Idolatry". Unbelievable as it is, it was profound enough for me to put this whole subject of unforgiveness into an even higher perspective than I did before picking up the book to read.
Putting matters into context, and having read the whole book, I know right now I could use the practical knowledge contained herein. We are social beings and inevitably, we wrong others or we are wronged and life becomes mutually painful for everyone. That's when we need an inspirational guide to put matters right. The author, Tammy, lays the foundation for introducing this subject by way of giving one out of her many personal life experiences that are uniquely characteristic of this book. Here, she cites a desperate call that she received one day from her niece, Karla. Because she was crying, Tammy could barely make out the words Karla was saying. But eventually, she is able to get the shocking news of the demise of her sister, Willow, and who is also Karla's mother. Because of Willow's drug addiction, their mother had to raise Karla. Karla on her part, because of the pain in her heart, hated her mother, Willow; thinking throughout her mother didn't love her. Willow, on the other hand, carried a pain of her own that she tried to mask with drugs. This is a typical example of the mutual pain in my home, and I am sure in every other home across the globe. And the big questions are, where does the healing begin to eventually cause the bearer of the pain to forgive? Or worse, what if the person who causes the pain doesn't apologise, or as is commonly the case, just moves on with their life like nothing happened?
Tammy's book spells out that at the heart of unforgiveness is pain. In fact, pain is what blocks or hardens the heart from wanting to forgive. It leads to anger which ultimately leads to unforgiveness. So in a nutshell, one can't begin to walk the path of forgiveness or deliverance until they can honestly confess their pain. As a matter of fact, Tammy reveals that unresolved pain is the barrier to people being able to receive the teaching about forgiveness. Forgiveness here meaning freedom from pain and which translates to being able to live in the present sustained by mutual love. It means not being defined by the fruits of unforgiveness: feelings of fear, pain, hurt, or low self-esteem.
What is good with this book is that it takes the reader through the trial and error experiences that the author had to go through before perfecting the art and her ministry of forgiveness. She owns up by saying "I was surprised that I didn't see as many breakthroughs in people's lives as I had hoped for. I knew God's word would deliver them from their past, but I had to find a way to convince them that forgiveness was the way." It was really heartfelt reading at the beginning of her journey towards discovering this right method. First, using a traditional or pulpit approach that hindered people to eventually a more effective divinely inspired approach to teaching forgiveness. She beautifully and humbly summarises this experience by saying she "thought God took me into the classroom as the teacher, but I became the student." In my mind's eye, I saw her like Ezekiel in the Scriptures who at the beginning of his mission, had to endure the pain of a hot piece of coal on his lips!
The author uses an expository style which explains beautifully, with examples, on the subject of forgiveness. Her tone is emotional and persuasive which is in line with someone who has gone through the process of pain and endured its effects, like anger, and ultimately is now reaping the fruits. Her writing is like a conversation she is having with a close friend and hence it's casual. I found this effective because it didn't sound like someone preaching to me, or a teacher who has all the theoretical knowledge but is missing the experiences. But rather, like a friend who is empathetic and sharing with another. I liked how Tammy brought out her personal experiences with her family members: her former husband, mother, father, sister, husband, stepfather and even, the Almighty God - where she tackles skillfully the classical problem of where God was throughout her pain. I liked her use of the term "wilderness" to describe that period of her life when she underwent pain and had a battered heart. Because wilderness, in my knowledge, denotes that period prior to the breakthrough.
The book seems to be professionally edited. I only came across two typos. It is a wholesome book to be read by the whole family, as unforgiveness affects everyone either as the aggrieved party or the aggressor. And if not affecting now sometime in the past. It's the author's desire for her readers to get help by confessing pain, its effects and give it to God. In conclusion, I think the book couldn't have come at a better time than this time when we are about to end the year. It contains a powerful message to new beginnings without pain in the new year. Beginnings to live now and not in the past. I can't recommend the book enough. I rate it 4 out of 4 stars.
Sharing My Shoes A Walk through the Journey of Forgiveness
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