“Forgiveness is rarely a simple act.”
The Gift of Forgiveness has started a dialogue aimed at finding peace and happiness in our lives, and that process often begins with forgiveness. Forgiving ourselves, others who have wronged us, or circumstances beyond our control, and coming to that place of forgiveness is no easy task. But the process starts somewhere and has an end, it’s a matter of setting your own intention to seek out the gift of forgiveness.
Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt acknowledges from her personal experience that “forgiveness is rarely a simple act” and her 20-plus stories each acknowledge that forgiveness is an intention. In this book, we are invited to encounter forgiveness in a variety of circumstances and to glean from those stories something personal and authentic to our forgiveness journey. Keep reading for a glimpse into some of the compelling stories that you will read in The Gift of Forgiveness.
There is no timeline for forgiveness. Some may reach that sense of peace almost immediately while others take years, decades even. Deborah Copaken’s journey to forgiveness took 30 years. She harbored a great pain after a sexual assault in her early 20’s, a pain that had finally reached a point of reckoning. That reckoning was 30 years later, and on a specific date, Yom Kippur, a holy day of forgiveness, when Deborah was compelled to write and send an email to the man who was both her college classmate and her rapist.
The email was a defining moment of reflection and an act of self-love, and the response she received was a surprise: an immediate apology. Deborah acknowledges that the apology was something that she longed for, a gift that took decades but one that she received once she found herself ready to forgive both her rapist as well as herself. She has shared her experience publically and in doing so, discovered something remarkable: forgiveness is often perceived as a private act between two people, but in making her experience public, she was profoundly aware of how forgiveness has a very powerful ripple effect.
Iskra Lawrence is an international model with a very successful career in a highly competitive industry. And while we all might think that her life is easy and carefree because of that career, it took many years before she was able to celebrate her body in a way that was healthy. In her story, she reflects on what she calls “the math of modeling” – how women in her industry are valued based on how they fit into a formula of numbers, and how dangerously self-destructive this process had become for her mentally and physically.
After years of destroying herself for this industry, Iska finally decided to love her self and make a change. She realized that she needed to forgive herself for allowing an impossible standard to determine her value, and to forgive herself for the negativity that overwhelmed her life. She now makes the intention to practice acceptance and gratitude instead of negative self-talk. In doing so, she’s been able to honor her strength and abilities. Forgiveness is a form of self-love, a way of releasing anger, pain, and fear so that we can be our best selves.
Immaculée Ilibagiza is a survivor of the Rwandan genocide in the 1990’s when the Hutus and Tutsis were engaged in a devastating war against each other. Her story is nothing short of terrifying and miraculous. As her family was slaughtered, Immaculée and several others were able to escape death by hiding in the bathroom of a neighbor’s home for 90 days. In that time, she struggled to cling to her faith in the face of violence and death. Immaculée felt her anger taking over as she wished for painful revenge on the killers.
As she imagined her retribution, she felt that it was that same anger that had reduced her country to such horrific violence. She realized, “If I hurt another person, it won’t bring back my mom or my brothers or my father.” As a part of the healing process, the people of Rwanda were compelled to forgive because it would be the only way the nation could be made whole again and rise from the hatred that had torn the country apart. Ilibagiza’s story is just one of the millions in Rwanda. Her story reveals how finding love in the face of hatred and evil is part of the journey to forgiveness.
These three stories are just a sample of what you will encounter as you read this book. Forgiveness is a powerful, yet invisible gift and, like the wind, we only see it when it affects the environment around us. Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt seeks to harness the intangible nature of forgiveness and transform it into something real. The Gift of Forgiveness is a thoughtful platform to begin a journey into this often challenging, sometimes elusive action that we call “forgiveness.”
Each interview is handled with grace, kindness, and shared with a genuine desire for us to use these stories as a part of our forgiveness journey. Some of these stories made national headlines, others are from someone who could easily be your friend, neighbor, or coworker. Each story is compelling. The Gift of Forgiveness will be on bookshelves March 10th, 2020 and is available now for preorder. Gift yourself or a friend with a copy of The Gift of Forgiveness by Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt and embrace the gift that is forgiveness. See her upcoming tour dates below!
Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt is a New York Times best-selling author, animal advocate, daughter, sister, wife and stepmom.