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Forgiveness

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Come see what it’s all about at www.WallisJones.com

The Circle, 3rd book in the Wallis Jones series, due out in early 2015.

It seems like a human being is a deep, narrow pool of water that is so dense, it’s impossible to see to the very bottom. But there at the bottom is where all the origins of the story of my life are swimming and playing, and teeming with energy.

Every thought, idea and most of all, belief that we’ve taken in as truth and then forgotten that there was ever a time when we didn’t know it, is buried down there in the bottom of that dark pool. At some point, our behavior starts to seem like a part of us. We must have come into the world like this.

It’s an argument to give in to the fears or limitations and work with what we are, who we are and settle. We have completely forgotten that each of those beliefs is just a layer sitting on top of all of our potential.

If only we had the insight to see past it and keep trying.

I spent so much time being afraid of what I might lose and where I might end up that just seeing past all of those layers seemed like a monumental task. I had no idea where to begin and I was positive that I would not only fail, I’d die trying. It was a truth to me and my shrinking life was proof of that belief.

Fortunately, I discovered writing thrillers and through twisted plots and well-meaning characters trying to do their best, I found a voice. For me, it was as if the depths of my soul were tired of waiting for me to come to life and had found a way to be heard.

But I still pulled my punches, trying to write in a way that wouldn’t be found offensive. I’m not sure who I thought I’d offend or what I would say that would do that but I was cautious and careful and busy trying not to look like it. Even with all of that, readers wrote me saying they identified with the characters and felt like someone was finally speaking for them.

We were all speaking to each other on some level I was still not really perceiving but some amount of a message was getting through. Still, I wondered if I had enough, deep at the bottom of the well to sustain me through an entire life. I really wasn’t sure.

My answer was to create a character, Wallis Jones, who is sure of herself and her loving husband Norman, her funny, smart son, Ned, and the life she’s created. She believes everything exists in her life because of the part she played, and the hard work she devoted to all of it. Of course she is succeeding, until she finds out none of it is really true.

What if you found out that your entire family history was a lie the older generation came up with just to keep their own ambitions alive? What if you couldn’t stop the machinery that had been in power for generations and at best, could only hope to escape it or at best, learn to live peacefully within it?

Everyone in The Wallis Jones series is trying to figure out how to be happy in a complicated world, even the characters that have less than admirable traits. Everyone has the same goal but different beliefs in how the universe works and their actions bubble up from that dark place, deep down inside and guide them to think of others, or think of no one but themselves.

Wallis watched all of this unfold in a leafy suburb of Richmond, Virginia among friends who like to play Bunko, and clients at her law firm that keep making the same mistakes, asking for her help. She’s one of us, except for that big conspiracy.

That’s exactly how I walked around for years. I’m okay, I think, except for this big conspiracy that starts from within me and says, you may not be up to the task.

I’ve started to find the beginning of a solution that involves faith and courage and a willingness to keep moving forward. I’m just going to let my story unfold in the series, which seems somehow right at home in a thriller. The first two books are out now, The List and The Keeper, and The Circle will be out early next year. More will be revealed.

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Me and Mom

It took me five years to return home, to visit my mother. That’s a long time, I know, and causes a lot of curiosity about all of my reasons. Often, reasons are a distraction; labels that give a justification why I’m not doing something.

I’d count up the years and after awhile not going even seemed like my new normal. I’d hear others talk about their holiday visits home and I felt no connection. It was easier to stay away, it was that simple. However, something else was growing on the inside at the same time.

Faith in something better.

That faith got me to start making a phone call to my mother at least once a week when normally we spoke every six months, or even more. A kernel of hope or optimism that God really does exist and really is unconditional Love got me to ignore the conversations that would have normally wounded me and I changed the subject instead. Maybe there was more to learn.

Forgiveness carried me the rest of the way. Not the kind of forgiveness where I judged my mother and decided I would let it go. That’s still me standing on high and deciding not only am I better in general, I’m really compassionate too. Look at me.

My mother, my son

I was learning through action a subtler kind of forgiveness that has more to do with myself and what I’m capable of, including letting go of all that’s happened, didn’t happen and live in the day I’ve been given, instead.

What matters is I returned home, which just means the place where my mother lives now, and spent a long weekend sitting next to her, driving her around and just being without wanting something in return. I was even reminded that she has a wicked sense of humor and often goes out of her way to be fair, even generous.

The strangest part I’ve found is that when I go into anything without expectations the riches find me and I walk away with more than I ever expected. All of the grasping generally leaves me with less.

The place where all of the resentment and anger sat is left empty for God to fill. A vacuum is always filled. More adventures to follow.

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Tower of Forgiveness at Burning Man Festival

Holding any past event in our heart and mind that doesn’t sit well with us is a design flaw meant to drive us crazy. How else to explain our unique ability to pull out yet again what happened in a long-lost childhood and relive the pain as if it were happening now. Scientists have even proven that the brain doesn’t know the difference between what is actually happening and what we have chosen to drum up and it suffers the same chemical wash the first time as the 130th time we yank it back out again.

No other living creature has the ability to do that. Dogs and cats may learn to mistrust and growl at the sight of you or to come running when you get to the door but as far as we know they aren’t sitting there in the living room all alone stewing over that time you cut the walk short. That’s our talent and we love to do it. We know the harm it causes and we still do it.

If we could get back the hours we’ve used up retelling the past we would probably just watch more television but at least we’d be sparing each other the trauma of listening to some ordeal where we weren’t even present. That element always startles me. Not only do we drag out our own stories but we will also listen to others and add to the catalogue in our brain. Then we’ll pay to go to movies that show even more kinds of emotional and physical suffering and watch that too. We are a race of drama queens. It has to be a mistake like an evolutionary spit-up. It would be so much better if we could stop the fascination with the parts that don’t turn out the way we would have liked.

But then, we would never have the opportunity to learn to forgive. That is our greatest blessing in disguise because the ability to forgive is at the root of our humanity. Every time we choose to turn away from the rut and let go out of compassion for someone else we suddenly find compassion for ourselves and everything becomes easier. We find out we are enough, just as we are. That’s our greatest fear, another odd little human twist, that we are just not enough for this life.

This is where forgiveness steps in to teach us how to love. Real forgiveness is love in disguise, the blessing, because it requires us to hand it over without conditions. If you had to start listing how it’s going to be before you can forgive you need to start over because that’s not forgiveness, that’s control, maybe even revenge depending on the list of demands.

Forgiveness remains illusory for so many but there is an easier path to the bliss and it starts with a change in focus. [click to continue…]

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