"In today's world, not many things can be stated with absolute certainty, yet one thing is sure: As long as we live on this side of heaven, we will face conflict. As a result we will be susceptible to depression, anger, anxiety, broken relationships, rejection, and manipulation. It doesn't sound very appealing, does it?
"In spite of such a disheartening thought, you should know that the two of us, Drs. Les Carter and Frank Minirth, are, by nature, optimists. Each working day of our lives we talk with people who have been on the losing end of conflicts, yet we intend to instill in each of them a sense of hope. Yes, conflict is inevitable. And yes, it hurts--sometimes very deeply. In spite of this bad news, though, humans are not without options. Although in life you may not be able to opt out of all of your bad circumstances, you still can choose your emotional and relationship patterns.
"That's what this book is about--choices. Once you realize the choices available to you, it will be possible for you, too, to develop optimism. A patient at our clinic once realized out loud, 'People may be able to control things that happen on the outside of me, but I've determined that I don't have to let them possess what lies on the inside of me.' That was a major breakthrough for him because he had not always lived with such optimistic thinking. Once he understood his God-given freedom to choose personal direction, he was able to make the breakthroughs he so desperately needed and desired.
"Our guess is that you are probably reading this book in the aftermath of an unwanted and undesirable hurt, rejection, or disappointment. Certainly you did not choose to be in those circumstances, yet there you were. Perhaps there have been times you've assumed a position of hopelessness, feeling stuck in your bitterness, discouragement, or cynicism. Our message to you is clear: You can afford to hope again, and you have choices that can carry you out of and away from the emotional pits.
"Let us put your emotional stagnation into perspective. When you were fifteen or sixteen years old, how many times did a trusted guide sit down with you and say, 'Let's discuss the meaning and direction of your emotions, how you handle adversity, and how you will respond to the inevitable conflicts of life?' If you are like most, this conversation never happened. The vast majority of people enter their adult years less than fully prepared for the emotional responses they will have in the aftermath of conflicts. That's not to say you weren't taught right from wrong. You've probably been told repeatedly that you're supposed to forgive others, to be kind, to remove from yourself a hateful spirit, and to be fair-minded. Now, however, you realize that being told what you should do is different from being trained in how to sift through the meaning and direction of your emotions.
"In this workbook we will walk you through the steps needed to become aware of the emotions and needs that tend to accompany major hurts, and guide you toward the ultimate goal of forgiveness. We do not suppose for a minute that this process is simple or quick. Lots of thought and effort and prayer will be necessary as you work through the steps we have outlined. In fact, you may find it beneficial to stay in touch with an accountability partner who can help keep you on track in your efforts. That partner may be a spouse, a close friend, a minister, a professional counselor, or a group of laypeople who want to be a team of encouragers. Openly exploring your choices with others makes your commitment to solutions more powerful.
"Know that before you ever heard of The Choosing to Forgive Workbook, we have prayed for you. Our desire is that God will put this book into the hands of people who can genuinely benefit from its teachings and insights. We have prayed that you will learn to choose the healthy patterns of life that cause you to disengage from the pain that has burdened you, ultimately finding the peace and confidence that accompany a forgiving spirit.
"Read with a readiness to learn and a readiness to be challenged. Whatever problem precedes your study of forgiveness, it is not so great that it precludes your ability to choose." - from the Preface by Les Carter, Ph.D. and Frank Minirth, M.D.