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The Gift of Forgiveness
Cover of The Gift of Forgiveness
The Gift of Forgiveness
Inspiring Stories from Those Who Have Overcome the Unforgivable
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!
"[The Gift of Forgiveness] will spark conversations across families, across friendships, at workplaces, everywhere." –Maria Shriver
A fresh, inspiring book on learning how to forgive, with firsthand stories from those who have learned to let go of resentment and find peace.

"When we learn to embrace forgiveness, it opens us up to healing, hope, and a new world of possibility." —Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt
Written with grace and understanding and based on more than twenty in-depth interviews and stories as well as personal reflections from Schwarzenegger Pratt herself, The Gift of Forgiveness is about one of the most difficult challenges in life—learning to forgive. Here, Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt shows us what we can learn from those who have struggled with forgiveness, some still struggling, and others who have been able to forgive what might seem truly unforgivable. The book features experiences from those well-known and unknown, including Elizabeth Smart, who learned to forgive her captors; Sue Klebold, whose son, Dylan, was one of the Columbine shooters, learning empathy and how to forgive herself; Chris Williams, who forgave the drunken teenager who killed his wife and child; and of course Schwarzenegger Pratt's own challenges and path to forgiveness in her own life. All provide different journeys to forgiveness and the process—sometimes slow and thorny, sometimes almost instantaneous—by which they learned to forgive and let go.
The Gift of Forgiveness is a perfect blend of personal insights, powerful quotations, and hard-won wisdom for those seeking a way to live with greater acceptance, grace, and peace.
A PAMELA DORMAN BOOKS/VIKING LIFE TITLE
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!
"[The Gift of Forgiveness] will spark conversations across families, across friendships, at workplaces, everywhere." –Maria Shriver
A fresh, inspiring book on learning how to forgive, with firsthand stories from those who have learned to let go of resentment and find peace.

"When we learn to embrace forgiveness, it opens us up to healing, hope, and a new world of possibility." —Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt
Written with grace and understanding and based on more than twenty in-depth interviews and stories as well as personal reflections from Schwarzenegger Pratt herself, The Gift of Forgiveness is about one of the most difficult challenges in life—learning to forgive. Here, Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt shows us what we can learn from those who have struggled with forgiveness, some still struggling, and others who have been able to forgive what might seem truly unforgivable. The book features experiences from those well-known and unknown, including Elizabeth Smart, who learned to forgive her captors; Sue Klebold, whose son, Dylan, was one of the Columbine shooters, learning empathy and how to forgive herself; Chris Williams, who forgave the drunken teenager who killed his wife and child; and of course Schwarzenegger Pratt's own challenges and path to forgiveness in her own life. All provide different journeys to forgiveness and the process—sometimes slow and thorny, sometimes almost instantaneous—by which they learned to forgive and let go.
The Gift of Forgiveness is a perfect blend of personal insights, powerful quotations, and hard-won wisdom for those seeking a way to live with greater acceptance, grace, and peace.
A PAMELA DORMAN BOOKS/VIKING LIFE TITLE
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  • From the cover

    Elizabeth Smart

    Innocence Reclaimed

    "Forgiveness is the answer to the child's dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is again made clean."

    -Dag Hammarskjšld

    In June 2002, when she was fourteen years old, Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah. She spent nine months in captivity, during which her captors-a husband and wife-tied her up, raped her daily, and threatened to kill her family if she made any attempts to escape. In March 2003, she was rescued by police officers and returned to her family. Such an ordeal would leave many of us in a permanent state of rage, but, incredibly, not Elizabeth. Shortly after her release, she made the decision to forgive her captors for all the horrible things they had done to her-and to move forward with her life.

    Forgiveness did not come instantly; it was a process. Like many, Elizabeth grew up with the idea that forgiveness was something simple, something she had learned on the playground: "When someone pushes you down, you're the bigger person when you say, 'It's okay. We can stay friends.'" When she returned home after being rescued, she still thought of forgiveness in this way. It took time for her to realize that forgiveness is not a gift you give to others; it's something you do for yourself-while also not excusing what happened to you. The horrible acts committed against her were in no way justifiable, but she discovered that she could accept her past in order to reclaim her future.

    It wasn't until Elizabeth was trying to reacclimate to everyday life that she realized her childhood version of forgiveness no longer served her. She realized something crucial: "Forgiveness is not necessarily a two-way street. It's a very personal thing, and you don't need two people for forgiveness to happen." She learned that at the heart of forgiveness is compassion: compassion for the person who harmed you and, more importantly, compassion for yourself. As she told me, "It's loving myself. It's allowing myself to feel whatever emotions I feel and to deal with them. And if it's anger, you know what? I think that is just fine."

    When Elizabeth first returned home, her mother told her that she should try her best not to relive her ordeal. Her captors had already taken so much from her; allowing them to maintain their grip on her by revisiting her captivity would be giving them too much control. She knew that staying angry at her captors wouldn't make any difference to them-it wouldn't punish them or erase any of the harm they had caused her. It would only trap her in her own cycle of trauma and rage. For her, holding on to this anger meant that she would never be fully happy: "I'd never be able to enjoy my life." Only once she recognized what was important to her-reclaiming her life-was she able to let go of that anger.

    Despite all she went through, Elizabeth was still able to find reasons to be grateful. She pointed out that many kidnappings are committed by someone the victim knows. She told me, "I actually feel so lucky that I was kidnapped and abused by strangers, because most people who have experienced similar things know their captors. For me, I didn't have to have relationships with them. They were out of my life, so that made it much easier." Recognizing such glimmers of light, even in her darkest hours, has helped her on her journey forward.

    While Elizabeth has chosen a path of forgiveness toward her captors, she admits that she still has moments when she struggles. She says it's normal for her anger or sadness to overwhelm her at times. "When you have those moments when you feel like you are...

About the Author-
  • Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt is a New York Times bestselling author, animal advocate, daughter, sister, wife and step-mom. As a passionate animal advocate, Katherine works as an Ambassador for Best Friends Animal Society and the ASPCA, lending her time, voice and energy to spread awareness about animal rescue. As an author, Katherine has skillfully translated her own personal experiences into all four of her books that speak to her generation. Katherine lives with her family in Los Angeles.
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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The Gift of Forgiveness
The Gift of Forgiveness
Inspiring Stories from Those Who Have Overcome the Unforgivable
Katherine Schwarzenegger
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