Grace & Guts: What It Takes to Forgive is a book about a topic I have gone to terrific lengths to avoid.

This book is not for those ultra-pious Christians who declare that of course we must forgive those who’ve hurt us because that’s what we’re called to do, period, so do it already. It’s not for those who don’t, or won’t, acknowledge the struggles inherent in being human, even a person who, with all her or his heart, aches to do what is right.

It’s not for anyone who is unwilling to admit that there are moments in life, even seasons in life, when feelings and thoughts of vengeance, anger, enmity, bitterness, or resentment have their way with us, even for those of us who strive to follow the most elegant and extravagant forgiver of all time, Jesus.

No, for me, the issue of forgiveness is sorely personal. It is the source of a profound degree of pain, anguish, struggle, and failure in my life.

Although forgiveness is the thickest of the threads that make up the cords of my Christian faith, I have wondered how I could possibly begin to talk to others about embracing, extending, and personalizing forgiveness when I still deal with bouts of revenge and retaliation myself.

I have known the bitter taste of unforgiveness for as long as I can remember. So, Grace & Guts is for those who admit they wrestle with unforgiveness on a daily (hourly? minute-by-minute?) basis.

It is for those of us who have been left bleeding, embittered, and in desperate need of liberation from the prison that unforgiveness inevitably erects around our hearts and souls.

It is for those courageous enough to understand that they will never make genuine progress by pretending that what happened didn’t happen, or by clinging to some hope that the pain will go away if we ignore it long enough.

Not long ago, a Gallup poll indicated that 94 percent of Americans believe forgiveness is a substantive issue in their lives, and 85 percent say they need help with how to go about it.

How can we forgive injustices committed against us? How can we forgive people who have wronged us and wounded us?

There is a part of me that doesn’t believe they should get away with it. There is a part of me that wants them to pay for what they have done. And if I am honest — and I promise you I am going to be — I must call this for what it is. There is something inside me that wishes for retribution and even revenge. In some corner of my heart, the idea of forgiving is all too foreign.

Yet, deeper within, I also know unforgiveness is a poison to the soul that gradually and surreptitiously drains me of the abundance I could have in life.

How on God’s earth can we be forgiven? That is an issue any book on forgiveness must address, and, in my experience, going there requires the two qualities for which Grace & Guts is named.

Dr. Lewis Smedes gets it right when he says, “Forgiveness is God’s invention for coming to terms with a world in which, despite their best intentions, people are unfair to each other and hurt each other deeply. He began by forgiving us. And he invites us all to forgive each other.”

A  dynamic Bible teacher, Barbara Francis makes the scriptures come alive and excels at relating biblical principles to everyday living. She loves helping people find hope. Visit her new blog, www.graceandguts.net.

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Barbara Francis

A dynamic Bible teacher, Barbara makes the scriptures come alive and excels at relating biblical principles to everyday living. She loves helping people find hope by bringing Jesus into their actual lives, not the ones they wish they had. She is honest with her audience, encouraging them to be honest with themselves. Using humor and personal stories, she makes listeners feel as if she has read their personal journals or is speaking just to them. Barbara possesses the unique ability to speak truth and grace into people?s lives, no matter where the individuals are in their spiritual journeys. Barbara joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1977. She is currently serving on the National Team for the Campus Ministry, giving focus to prayer on college campuses world-wide. In addition to campus ministry, Barbara has engaged audiences for nearly thirty years at hundreds of retreats and conferences in the United States, East Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, and Central America. She also founded Koinonia, a twenty-five-yearold women's fellowship in Salt Lake City, Utah, dedicated to teaching God?s word to women and reaching out to the community in a creative, evangelistic manner. Books by Barbara Francis include Unexpected Turns: Leaning into the Losses of Life and Following Him When I Can't See the End of the Road. She has also written three Bible study guides, An Invitation to Eavesdrop: Finding Yourself in the Psalms; Private Conversations: Reflections on the Prayer Life of Jesus; and Following Him When I Can't See the End of the Road: A Personal Study Guide, all of which are available by contacting the author. Barbara writes three inspiring monthly devotions enjoyed by thousands via email, entitled Embraced, Devoted to Prayer, and Prayer Pages. Married in 1974, Barbara and her husband, Bob, have two grown children and two grandchildren. To contact Barbara, order books or Bible study guides, sign up to receive Barbara's monthly e-mail devotions, or schedule a speaking engagement, please send email communications to: Barbara.Francis@uscm.org. Or write to: Campus Crusade for Christ Attention: Barbara Francis 100 Lake Hart Drive, Dept. 2500 Orlando, FL 32832

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