I Choose to Forgive: An Intimate Journey with God. By Dianne B. Collard. Forward by Rev. Greg Asimakoupoulos
The Collards were serving as missionaries in Vienna, Austria, when the phone call came, announcing that their eldest son had been murdered in Concord, California. Timothy Collard, age 23, had been shot at least three times in the back of the head and his body subsequently mutilated.
The newspapers smeared his reputation, but eventually the truth emerged, and the murder was determined to be a case of mistaken identity. The killer was convicted and sentenced to prison, and the Collard family faced the arduous task of learning how to move on from an unspeakable horror and senseless tragedy.
In I Choose to Forgive, Timothy’s mother, Dianne, describes her journey from that first phone call, through years of grieving and questioning, to finding strength in God and answers that gave meaning to her experience and a story of hope and blessing to share with others.
The Choice to Forgive
Dianne found the way to healing through the seemingly impossible task of forgiving the man who had murdered her son. A strong believer in Christ, she chose to obey God’s command to forgive our enemies even as we have been forgiven in Christ, although at the outset she had little idea how to go about such an unpalatable endeavor. Her story invites anyone who has been personally wounded to choose God’s way over the ways of the world and to forgive what may at first seem impossible to forgive.
Through diligent Bible study, Dianne became convinced that clinging to hatred and resentment can only make our suffering worse and can never bring the healing we long for. Although she had known God most of her life, this terrible ordeal brought her closer to him and gave her opportunities to receive his love and grace in unexpected ways as she learned to trust and obey him as never before.
A Personal Story
Unlike so many books on the subject, I Choose to Forgive is not a scholarly collection of forgiveness theories and clinical applications, nor is it a formulaic self-help book. The author describes her book as “a simple story of God’s work in my life and nothing more…a story of a grieving mother’s journey toward healing, spiritual growth, and the freedom that forgiveness brings” (pp. xix-xx).
Her efforts have produced a slim volume that effectively weaves together her personal journey with the various resources that helped her along the way: Scripture verses, inspirational writings, reported experiences of others on their forgiveness journeys, and God’s personal word to her through prayer and Bible study. Anyone who has struggled to forgive will resonate with Dianne’s story as she grapples with the fundamental question: Can God really expect me to forgive the murderer of my child?
What I Love About This Book
I found strength in Dianne’s book in the twin pillars of her approach to the subject of forgiveness: concrete directions from God through Scripture and the straightforward narrative of her personal experience in learning to forgive. Her unflinching honesty as she describes questioning and even ranting at God makes her story real and so human that I immediately identified with her anguish and frustration. She inspired me to follow her example and trust God with those deep and painful issues that seem so impossible to resolve.
Dianne’s book is rich in application of Scripture to the difficulties of forgiving those who hurt and offend us. She makes the strong points that forgiveness is a choice that does not depend upon feelings, that God asks us for obedience even when we don’t understand how or why our actions matter, and that God makes demands of us only for our ultimate good and protection.
The shocking and brutal wounding that began her forgiveness journey made Dianne’s final freedom from resentment and the healing of her grief all the more poignant. She takes the reader along, step by step, to reveal how God met her at every obstacle, and she encourages us to believe that God will do the same for us if we choose to follow him into forgiveness.
I was impressed with the author’s profound insights and obvious conversance with Scripture. Nevertheless, what impressed me more was her humility throughout and her determination to follow God no matter where he led. She attests firmly to the loving heart of God, who only asked her to forgive so that he could rescue her from her grief and torment. Over and over she stresses that we can trust God to lead us in the right and best way, even when we cannot fathom where we will end up.
Dianne now speaks internationally about her journey of forgiveness and testifies to the grace of God that saved and cared for her through her years of struggle. She leads forgiveness workshops in many countries, and her book continues to be translated into many languages.
Her passion for helping people as she was helped is evident in her personal mission statement:
To live my life in worship of God and be a messenger of His hope through speaking, writing and counseling and thereby contribute to the development of people and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
To Order This Book
I Choose to Forgive: An Intimate Journey with God, by Dianne B. Collard. (2011). WestBow Press: Bloomington, IN. 88 pages.
Purchase this book through amazon.com.
To learn more about Dianne B. Collard and her ministries, visit the following Web sites: