Guest Blogger- Linda Faulkner Johnston- Nan Brown Self Life-Changing Author of Forgiveness: Making Space for Grace
As we talked in her flower-filled, North Dallas home, being with Nan Self is a somewhat other worldly experience. She emits serenity, peace, and love by her very presence. Maybe it’s in part because of all that she has been through in preparing to write her book Forgiveness: Making Space for Grace, published in 2017.
When asked what started her on the path to this book, she was quick to respond. “It was in the 1970s, and I had just become a new Christian,” she said. “I saw the cover of the New Wine magazine. There was a picture of man who looked so sad and he was crouched down. There was a glass bell jar over him.” On the cover was written “The Barrier of Unforgiveness,” and the entire magazine was about forgiveness. It changed her life. She started little by little studying and forgiving.
“About this time, I realized that what I had thought had been an ideal childhood had been a myth,” said Nan. “I had a very difficult childhood.”
In her subsequent readings and study, she learned about bitter root judgments and realized that she had judgments against both parents (who have since passed away) and had taken those roots into her heart, producing bitterness.
There are studies on bitterness, roots of bitterness, and unforgiveness, which have been shown to produce various kinds of illness. Identifying roots of bitterness and unforgiveness needs to happen first and that comes through prayer. “We can say, ‘Lord, I don’t know what this root is,’ “and He will reveal the areas of our unforgiveness.”
The Bible is full of verses that highlight the need for forgiveness. The most important, perhaps, is the Lord’s Prayer, specifically, “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” In Matthew 6:12, “The key is the word ‘as’,” she said.
She asked God to reveal all the judgments she had against her parents, and the whole process was an uncovering, layer by layer. “Once I had the first list completed, I began to work through it with confession, repentance, and forgiveness. I asked God to uproot each judgment and to fill up the ‘waste places.’ I asked Him to forgive me and I forgave myself,” she said.
That process was life changing. “I had no idea these roots were buried so deep. They had produced all kinds of negative emotions, heaviness, and burdens,” she said. “When it was over, I couldn’t believe the freedom that I felt.”
For years she was a teacher, a licensed counselor and a play therapist. Nan couldn’t keep such knowledge to herself. So she began writing and it took several years to complete her book. I can personally attest that her book is life changing. I came upon it as I was struggling against unforgiveness in my own life, and the Lord had already convicted me that I had better repent of it because it was the cause of a current illness. As Nan says, “unforgiveness invades your mind, soul, spirit, and life.”
The act of forgiving is hard. It’s a dying to self. But while sitting with her, I explained that her book was a kind of manual to me, an encouragement, as if she were saying to me, “Come on, you can do it!” Once I began to practice
forgiveness, the Lord brought to my mind one by one people in my past who had offended me. I began to learn to pray right away, to “turn on a dime,” not letting any new offense fester and turn into unforgiveness.
Although I am still learning, I continue to be encouraged by words on a book-mark that Nan produced which enumerates the many fruits of forgiveness: love, faith, patience, peace, trust, gentleness, gratefulness, joy, inner beauty, grace, humility, security, kindness, freedom, mercy, goodness, flexibility, self-control, self-acceptance, and acceptance of others. I have now personally tasted all of these fruits (including improved health) as I have practiced forgiveness while making space for grace.
Thank you, Nan!
Linda Faulkner Johnston
Linda Faulkner Johnston is privileged to count Nan Self a long-time friend. In fact, as Linda was driving to Washington, D.C., to her new position as Social Secretary to the Reagan White House, she listened to a tape of Nan’s on forgiveness! Linda is currently Vice President at Tradition Senior Living in Dallas.