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Experiencing God and forgiving yourself, which may be the most difficult forgiveness of all
Opening the Way Home: Millie
“I could see it in his face. I could see it in his eyes.”
Millie had made an awful mistake, and she wanted to come home. She desired no more, and she could accept no less. Married at age eighteen, Millie grew restless ten years later.
With three kids to care for, and all the weight of adulthood bearing down on her shoulders, she soon found excitement in the arms of another man. For four months, she met this man clandestinely, and their passionate love affair gripped her entire life, both body and spirit.
After four months of meeting her lover in motels and parked cars, Millie left her husband and three children. She moved in with her paramour. They set up house in the same town, just a few miles away from her husband and kids. Millie’s husband was devastated, but he refused to give up on her, their vows, and their family. He wrote her notes. He left her messages. On one occasion, he physically picked her up and took her to church to meet with their pastor. But Millie rejected all of his efforts, even going as far as telling the pastor, “I don’t need you. I don’t want this. I am finished with all of you.”
For nearly a year, Millie reveled in her newfound freedom. No kids. No responsibilities. Just the passion and thrill of being in love with someone new. Or so she thought.
On a Wednesday morning, Millie woke up, in more ways than one. That morning, reality sank in. Millie’s mind focused, and she thought, “What in the world have I done?” She knew. She was making the biggest mistake of her life. All the decisions of the past year collapsed around her. She had taken a man who loved her unconditionally, and the children they had created together, and ditched that on the side of the road like a used cigarette butt. The crushing wave of what she had chosen washed over her. And she decided, “I am going home.”
Millie had no expectation that her husband would forgive her. She hoped he would at least welcome her. She merely wanted to come home. That was all. To be back in the orbit where she belonged. Whether she could set things right or not did not matter, because at least she would be home.
Millie pulled into the driveway and went to the front door. She heard the kids playing in the backyard and stood there on the doorstep for a very long time. It was Wednesday night, right before her husband and children would leave to attend church. After what felt like a decade, Millie knocked on the door. Her husband opened the front door and she could not look up at him. She was shaking and ashamed. Her husband took the first step. He placed his hands on Millie’s face and held her chin up. Looking into her face, he said, “Welcome home.”
She responded, “I wanna come home.”
And he pulled her small body to him, and that was it.
They prayed. Millie cried. He cried. They went to church that night. And their pastor, whom Millie had verbally dismissed and rejected those months before, threw open his arms and said, “Welcome home, Millie. I’m so glad you’re here.”
Those were only the first welcomes Millie received. Open arms soon came from her parents-in-law, as well as from other members of the church.
A week later, Millie discovered that she was pregnant. The news meant one obvious thing: She was carrying the child of her lover. Adultery. Illegitimate child. Husband. Three children depending on her. Needless to say, Millie was broken by the news. The gravity of her mistake crushed her world. One week home, one week of moving toward making things right, and now this. An unexpected and fully unwanted pregnancy with a child who could be a permanent reminder of the biggest mistake Millie had ever made and the very real and deep pain she had inflicted on her family. She knew what she wanted to do: end the pregnancy.
That evening, Millie broke the news to her husband.
Like he had done on the doorstep of their home a week before, he looked her in the eye and said, “This is going to be all right.” Millie shared that she did not believe that she could go through with the pregnancy. The pain of the living reminder of her adultery was simply too great to bear. He told her that they would make something wonderful from the pain and raise the baby together.
Fortunately, the paramour did not want anything to do with the child, and Millie and her husband now have another lovely daughter. Her in-laws and closest friends, the handful of people who knew the complete story, welcomed the baby just as they had welcomed Millie home upon her return.
Some of the people in town know, and they ask Millie’s husband, “How could you have taken her back? How could you have forgiven her?” He replies the same way each time: “You know, with all that Christ did to forgive me, how could I look at my wife, the woman He gave me to love, and say, ‘You know, you’ve done something so horrible that I can’t forgive you’?”
Her husband’s generous forgiveness brought Millie home again, this time to stay. His forgiveness brought a baby from death to life, a full-time mother back to her children, his soul mate back to him, and a future to everyone involved. Through forgiveness, Millie’s husband created a future of memories that will include grandchildren not yet born and mountaintops not yet reached.
For Millie, the harder part has been to forgive herself. That has taken a few years.
In her words, as she shared with me on my radio show, “It’s something that I still struggle with. A few months into the relationship with the other man, I felt I couldn’t go back home. I felt like I had gone so far beyond, I’d done too much, and I couldn’t go back. I was too bad. I didn’t deserve my husband, and the whole time he had made it known that he was waiting for me. He had left me messages. He had left me notes, saying, ‘I’m not giving up on us. This is not where you belong and this is not who you are.’ It was just so overwhelming.”
For Millie, it became a perfect picture of who God is.
When did she feel forgiven by her husband? “The moment I showed up on the doorstep and said, ‘I want to come home.’ It was instantaneous. I knew it. I could see it in his face. I could see it in his eyes.”
Millie assumed it would take a long time to build up trust and to do all of the repair work on her relationship. “I felt like it was going to be a long road, and it really wasn’t. From the beginning, I would call him if I thought I was going to be late at work, and I would let him know where I was. But I never felt doubted, and he never threw it up in my face. There was never any of that. The hard part was forgiving myself.”
When did she feel forgiven by God? “I knew. I knew when I asked. I think because of him. I knew when I went home. I saw that grace. I saw that mercy. It only comes from God. As humans, we do not come by that naturally. I don’t think I could do that either. It’s horrible to say now, but if the situation were reversed, I do not think I could do that. I don’t think I have that in me. It was so devastating, and it was the most horrible, horrible thing. But my husband is now the baby’s father. Yes. He is.”
Millie found herself locked out of her own life, imprisoned by the tragedy of her decisions. Only forgiveness could provide the key out of that dark prison of pain. Everybody needs to forgive somebody. While a husband needed to forgive his wife, Millie also needed to forgive herself. Her husband’s forgiveness, inspired by the forgiveness of God, opened the door and a path to a restored relationship and a unified future together as a family. His forgiveness did not make him forget Millie’s mistake; his forgiveness allowed him to move past it.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Have you ever done something so painful that you find it impossible to forgive yourself? In what part of your life do you feel trapped?
2. Are you embarrassed by a mistake you made? Millie came home. What does it mean to you to “come home”? What would it take to get there?
REAL LIFE HELP 1
Create a forgiveness journal. Begin to list the names of people you have hurt and need to ask for forgiveness. On the next page, you can list people who have hurt you whom you need to forgive. This is not a grudge list. It is a forgiveness list. Spend a moment each day writing down the areas of your life in which you need forgiveness to spring forth. Keeping a journal will also help center your soul each day around the idea of forgiveness so that you can make progress. This journal will also come in handy as you make your way through this book and learn what to do with the items you list in your journal.
by Allen Hunt
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Forgiveness will unleash a power in your life that is underrated and often ignored.
It is underrated mainly because it is underused. We fail to capture the power of forgiveness because we are afraid of it, because we have grown comfortable in our familiar wounds, or because we are sinfully stubborn. But the power is there waiting for us.
The lesson is simple: Give forgiveness and you will unleash a flood of grace on yourself and on those around you. When you clench your fists and grit your teeth in anger toward someone, you have no room in your heart for God to place His hand in yours. Replace your clenched fist with an open hand and watch as God fills your soul to overflowing.
This little book, and the twelve real-life stories in it, will help you capture the power of forgiveness in your life. Because everybody needs to forgive somebody.
Back to Everybody Needs to Forgive Somebody (Paperback)
Author description goes here...
Alternative Headline 12 Stories of Real People Who Discovered the Underrated Power of Grace
Product Type Media Books
Author Allen Hunt
Publisher Beacon Publishing
Number of Pages 133
Book Format Paperback
Everyone Needs to Read This Book
I lead two Bible Studies in a summer book discussion each year. This book was by far the best I have used. Everyone loved the book and it changed the lives of many. We followed the books format for schedule and discussion. The prayers included for each session were great. The format of this book makes it easy for anyone to lead a group discussion. It will will touch many lives!
Everyone needs to forgive someone
I love the this book . Has been helping me start the process of forgiving .
Fantastic book !!
Everybody Needs to Forgive Somebody
This book was given to us as a gift from our parish priests .This is a book you must take your time to read . It is very thought provoking sometimes, no I take that back most times hitting chords very close to home . It has definitely made a difference in my thought process . What exactly is the point of holding a grudge, or not reaching out to someone who is hurting ? A smile can make someone's day . Well as the title says Everybody needs to forgive somebody . I highly recommend this book .
Book discusses real situations, gives questions to ponder, its an easy read but also thought provoking. I believe it would be of interest to most people who care about others.
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