Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Power of Forgiveness, Guest Post by: Samantha Bayarr

 Forgiveness: To pardon or excuse: no longer to blame or be angry with someone who has done you wrong.
NIV Bible Dictionary Terms

21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 
22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
Matthew 18:21,22 NKJ

In 1995, I began to write my very first book, Little Wild Flower: Unto Others, as a means of “therapy” to overcome some of the difficulties I had growing up with an alcoholic mother. I’d heard somewhere that if you placed your issues in a “journal” as though they were someone else’s life and not your own, it would release the burden by placing it onto a fictional character.
I was all for handing over the pains of my childhood to someone else and making them “her” burdens and not my own. Before I began the book, I knew I was still holding onto a lot of the past, though I’d tried to forgive my mother for the struggles she put me through during her bout with alcoholism.

Excerpt Little Wild Flower: Unto Others (Book Four)
{The alley was always a safe place to hide whenever my mother was calling for me. It was fall, and her screams blended with the wind, blowing through the dry leaves on the trees that lined the alley. Long branches hung low with the force of the wind, scraping them against the worn, brick road. The constant rustling of the leaves helped to soften her screeching tones, providing me with an alibi for not heeding her warning. Within the row of trees, the leaves on the branches blocked out just enough sun to give the appearance of a long, dark tunnel. At first glance, the alley might have seemed like the setting of a child’s nightmare. For me, any place so devoid of the "witch" could only be a haven.
I walked slowly toward the house, trying to remain in my sanctuary a little longer. At this close range, even my own thoughts couldn’t block out her angry words. 
“Jane, you little blond-headed brat, where are you?”  
Every time she spoke to me in such a cruel manner, it made me cringe with hatred for my own name. I forced myself to move forward, knowing that stalling would only make things worse.
When I reached the tall, snowball bushes toward the house, I could see my mother standing on the back stoop. Anna Mae Reeves was short and grossly thin, with black hair and deep circles that surrounded her eyes. The cigarettes and alcohol seemed to age her far beyond the twenty-eight years that she was.         
As I approached the house, I could see more easily the impatience in the lines of my mother’s face as she waited for me with a wooden spoon in her hand. My thoughts turned to panic, when I realized I was going to get hit for something, regardless of whether I was guilty of it or not. I cowered behind the bushes, watching her tapping her foot against the wooden slats of the porch; it sent an unspoken message that I was going to get hit a lot worse if I didn’t hurry. I dawdled just a bit more, letting my vision blur, and all the while wondering what it would be like to be rescued from this terrible witch who calls herself my mother.
There was no use putting off the pain that was to come for whatever I had or hadn’t done wrong, so I went to her, hoping to get it over with.
“You horrible little brat, I would like nothing more than to kill you right now. Give me a reason. Just give me one good reason why I shouldn’t.” 
She shook her finger at me. “I only let you live for one reason—to clean my house. When I was five, I did twice the work you do. You give me no other choice but to take you out of my misery. So what’s it going to be?” 
I wasn’t quite five yet, but I knew better than to talk back. 
Somehow, I managed to dodge her first swing at me, and I knocked over her bottle of beer that rested on the top rail of the porch. I watched in shock as it rolled down the steps in slow motion, leaving a trail of beer over each step. As it hit the concrete, it echoed a grinding roll before breaking, allowing the remaining beer to escape through the cracks. At that moment, her face began to curl up as I pulled in a deep breath and held it. 
“Look what you’ve done. You’re going to pay for that beer, you little brat.” 
Before I had a chance to get away from her, she managed to grab hold of me, and started hitting me in the head with the wooden spoon. My hands went up to soften the blows to my head, but my knuckles got hit when she swung the spoon without a single pause. She retained her grip on my arm as I doubled over slightly from the sting, trying desperately not to cry.
“Why haven’t you done the dishes yet?” she demanded. 
Her face was close to mine, and I breathed in the sour smell of the beer on her breath as she spoke. 
Experience warned me not to speak, but I was angry.
“I could’ve done ‘em if ya…”
“If I what?” she interrupted.
“If ya didn’t lock me outta the house,” I stammered.
“I don’t lock you out of the house. You are a liar.”
I tried to pull away from her, but she was stronger than me. “I don’t lie and Mitchell says you pass out on the sofa.”
My brother Mitchell told my sister and me that she passes out from all the beer that she drinks every day. He also filled my head by convincing me she was a witch with a crystal ball, and she could see everything I did.
When the beating finally ended, she let me drop out of her grasp and I fell to the ground. “Get up, you pathetic child, and do what I told you to do.”
I struggled to regain my footing in spite of the many bruises I could already feel. I tried not to cry aloud as I wiped blood from the scrapes on my arms and hands, knowing that it would anger her even more to hear me cry. 
“You’re a worthless child, and I don’t know why I let you live. If you don’t get those dishes done before your father gets home, I’ll make you clean the litter box with your bare hands again,” she said. 
After straightening my tattered shorts that I’d soiled in the struggle, and pushing my tear-dampened hair behind my ear, I moved slowly through the screen door and into the kitchen. My mother had suddenly vanished without my knowledge of her whereabouts.} 

As I wrote each page of the things that earmarked my formative years, the burdens amazingly lifted from my shoulders onto the pages, leaving me with a collection of bad memories that now belonged to “Jane”, my fictional “me”.
Before I knew it, I had written an account of more than 12 years of my life in fictional format.
Knowing I could never publish such a work in its present state, I set out to change Jane’s life.
Now, in its watered-down state, the reader gets the basic premise of “Jane’s” childhood, while allowing it to remain fictional. I had come to realize that once it reached the page, it was no longer about me; it was about Jane. And because it was Jane’s life, I no longer needed to carry it around with me.
I was well on my way to letting go and forgiving my mother for the past. But I wasn’t done yet…I had to transform Jane’s life, thus Little Wild Flower: Book One, was created. In Book One of my Christian fiction series, I give Jane the power of God, something that was almost non-existent in my own life while growing up.
It was important to me to show the readers how Jane had progressed and how her relationship with her mother had changed. Out of that desire, my relationship with my mother began to heal.  
While arming the fictional me with the power of forgiveness for her mother, a true miracle happened in my life. Through the act of giving Jane’s life to God, I gave my own burdens to God, and opened my heart to forgiving my mother once and for all. What a relief it was to be able to see her through God’s eyes and with God’s heart of forgiveness. 
After telling my mother I’d written the book (part of my healing process), she urged me to publish it because she felt it could help someone else who might have had similar experiences. Though I agreed with her, I wanted to show how the power of forgiveness had transformed Jane and her family to what it is today. But in order to demonstrate those miraculous changes, I knew I would have to wait to release Little Wild Flower: Unto Othersuntil after the readers were able to see Jane’s life transformed in Little Wild Flower: Book One, an Amish/Christian fiction.
Though these books are fictional, the purpose for them is as powerful as God’s love. 

Jane Abigail Reeves was raised as a city girl. In 1977, at only fifteen, Jane and her family moved to a farmhouse in a rural Amish community in Indiana as a respite for her alcoholic mother. Jane hates farm life, until she stumbles upon Elijah, the Amish boy next door. As she slowly ventures out of her comfort zone, she begins to mimic her family’s acceptance of Amish living and realizes it’s a practical solution for squelching the dysfunction of her family’s past. Can a hippie-chick like Jane find friendship with a sixteen-year-old Amish boy, despite their cultural differences?  Will their feelings for each other change as they grow up? 

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