Forgiveness does not occur in the abstract. Stories of forgiveness move us and remind us the practice of forgiveness is applied in the concrete circumstances of life. These stories admit granting forgiveness is neither easy nor simple. The act of forgiveness may occur at a particular time but it involves a process. Most of all, forgiveness is rooted in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Forgiveness breathes new life into us. This is the very point Jason Romano puts forth in his new book Live to Forgive: Moving Forward When Those We Love Hurt Us.
Written with the assistance of Stephen Copeland, Jason Romano provides a show-and-tell on forgiveness. Growing up with an alcoholic and abusive father, Romano’s story is filled with grief, heartbreak, struggle, hope, and reconciliation. He presents a four-part process in the book: Feeling the Pain, Evaluating the Trauma, Transforming the Wound, and Forgiving the Abuser. Each part shares the struggle of Jason’s childhood and relationship with his father, walks the reader through their own process of finding life in forgiveness, and concludes with a Christian perspective of that element.
Live to Forgive is a moving story that tells you of Jason’s own struggle and journey toward forgiveness and shows you the process to take yourself. Growing up with an alcoholic and verbally abusive father, Jason transparently and honestly tells his story of the embattled relationship with his father. Lest you think Jason has arrived, he admits he is still a work in progress as he continues to learn to live through forgiveness and reconciliation (If you want to know the relationship Jason has with his father today you will have to purchase and read the book!). The complexities of moving toward forgiveness are on full display in this book. Jason’s story reminds you while the call to forgiveness is simple, the application of forgiveness is not easy. You cannot extend it in your own power; only through the power of the gospel is it possible. He instructs you in wisdom to put up necessary boundaries between the abused and the abuser (Romano 68). Indeed, such boundaries contribute the “move toward peace and forgiveness” (Romano 68). Jason further reveals the impact of another’s sin upon other’s lives, reminds you your control is over how you respond to such sin, and provides a proper perspective of emotions, not suppressing them but seeing them as internal sirens (Romano 32), letting them out, and viewing them as a part of the road to forgiveness (Romano 38).
Romano’s story is movingly told and the solid process of learning to forgive is vividly shown. But if there is a critique to be given, it is in the particulars of the process. Jason states upfront, “I am writing from a Christian perspective. My faith in Jesus Christ is the most important thing about me” (Romano 21). While I can appreciate the emphasis on his life of faith filling the pages of the last section of each of the four parts of the book, weaving the impact of his Christian faith throughout all chapters would have emphasized the centrality of his Christian faith in the journey toward forgiveness. Other particulars seem to emphasize loving ourselves as the starting place. However, the starting place of forgiveness and love is God in Christ (Ephesians 4:32). The focus should be on God’s love, particularly in the person and work of Christ, not on loving ourselves. Please don’t mishear me. As God’s image-bearers, we have value and dignity of life. Yes, God desires a relationship with us. But the way we learn to forgive and really live is not by emphasizing to look within but to look above and look to the cross. That said, the particulars do not negate the overall process and Jason Romano’s story and heart will certainly help any who are struggling to forgive. If you find yourself struggling to forgive someone who has wronged you, join Jason Romano and let him walk you through the process toward forgiveness and finding life.
I received a complimentary PDF copy of this book from the author for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.