Cover image for The unburdened heart : five keys to forgiveness and freedom
The unburdened heart : five keys to forgiveness and freedom
Nelson, Mariah Burton.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
[San Francisco] : HarperSanFrancisco, [2000]

Physical Description:
ix, 213 pages ; 22 cm
Personal Subject:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BJ1476 .N45 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Molested as a young teenager, Mariah Burton Nelson found herself decades later still consumed with anger. Drawing on her own poignant story of betrayal and reconciliation, along with psychological studies, spiritual wisdom, poetry and original interviews with othrs who have forgiven offenses great and small, she shows how forgiveness can help us achieve a profound and lasting peace. Her five keys to forgiveness--Awareness, Validation, Compassion, Humility, and Self-Forgiveness--help us to understand, validate, and ultimately free ourselves from the overwhelming burdens of past wounds--from the shame, recrimination, retribution, and superiority that all too often consume us. Powerful, personal, and ultimately practical, this guide offers new hope for anyone who wants to explore forgiveness as a way of life.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Having written thoughtfully and persuasively on women, competition and American sports culture, Nelson now detours out of sports writing; yet her latest book emerges from her previous writing as well. The lengthy process of coming to terms with having been sexually abused as a teenager by a coach and the larger phenomenon of coach/athlete abuse that she discussed in The Stronger Women Get, The More Men Love Football have led her to write this accomplished and engaging book about forgiving others. The book is constructed around what Nelson calls the "five keys" of forgiveness: awareness, validation, compassion, humility and self-forgiveness. Woven into Nelson's own story and her cultural and intellectual analysis of forgiveness are the often inspiring stories of people who have forgiven (or sought to forgive) both unimaginable crimes and everyday betrayalsÄsuch as rape, torture, the murder of children, adultery and the abuse of authorityÄand the peace and strength they seem to find. Whether it is entirely in everyone's interest to become a forgiving person is a question Nelson acknowledges, if gingerly and without resolution. She also acknowledges that forgiveness is a complicated, messy, never-ending business, and that victims do not always shine with innocence. Yet in seeking to apply her simple rules of forgiveness to all things significant and insignificant, Nelson sometimes minimizes her message. As with so many self-help books, while the person who is most completely served by the book is probably the writer, most people will recognize at least a little of themselves in this considered and eloquent volume. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

More than a dozen titles have been published in the last year on forgiveness. What does true forgiveness mean, and how does one achieve it? These two titles attempt to answer those questions and more. Each, in fact, goes so far as to claim that forgiveness is important not only for spiritual but also medical reasons (it lowers blood pressure, for example). The Unburdened Heart focuses on Nelson's five-step formula for complete forgiveness: awareness, validation, compassion, humility, and self-forgiveness. The former professional basketball player and sports writer also considers whether to reconcile with the perpetrator or say goodbye and whether one can still forgive if the apology is insincere. At the core of her compelling narrative is her experience of being sexually abused by her high school coach; at the time, she very much believed his story that they were having an adult affair. While researching a previous book, The Stronger Women Get, the More Men Love Football (LJ 5/15/94), she could not get other coaches to comment on abuse, but here she reconnects with her old coach after 20 years to start the forgiving process. Written in straightforward workbook style, Nelson's text ends with three pages of group discussion questions. Ketterman and Hazard, a speaker/ psychiatrist and an author, respectively, write in a more folksy, storytelling style, but their point is no less convincing. Because they take a Christian stance, their book may be especially helpful to religious counselors; the chapter "A Personal Reckoning" poignantly illustrates what forgiveness means. Like Nelson, Ketterman has a deep personal connection to her topic: she had already divorced her successful husband when he called to tell her that he had been arrested and needed her help. They worked through their problems and remarried after he was released from prison. Both of these titles use forceful personal vignettes to show the process of working through events to exoneration. Nelson's book is better arranged for group work, while Ketterman and Hazard's is more amenable to an individual read.DLisa Wise, Broome Cty. P.L., Binghamton, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.