The experiences of 10 women who learn that forgiveness is a process possible with God when they are faced with personal tragedies in divorce, death, abuse and parenthood are in Ganel-Lyn Condie's recently released book, “I Can Forgive With God: Stories of Healing from Mormon Women” (Covenant Communications, $11.99).
“I Can Forgive with God” is the second book in Condie’s With God series, and a follow-up to “I Can Do Hard Things With God” that was released last year.
“I feel like the theme of forgiveness is so relevant and key for all of us. We have to start talking about it," Condie said. "If this adds to any part of the conversation happening about forgiveness, happening in our country right now and the world as a whole, and I can play one little small part in that, then I feel like it was worth the hours and weeks and months and years trying to get this book done.”
Condie, who is a columnist for multiple magazines and newspapers and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, says she never saw herself as a book author, but that she “definitely felt God-directed, like he was wanting me to do this.”
“A lot of times, people think I sit down and pull peoples’ blogs together, and then send it into the editor,” Condie said. “And it’s much more complicated than that. There are a lot of moving parts.”
Since Condie was a child, she has been drawn to people who are different from her, and she has loved asking them about their lives and hearing all about their stories. Because of this, Condie feels like she was led to the women who are featured in this book and given the courage to ask them about their stories.
Most of the women featured in “I Can Forgive With God” had never written anything like this before, and it took a lot of revising, editing and ghostwriting to get the raw story for readers to connect with, Condie said.
“There’s a lot of revisions to just try to really get the story to be honest without it being an exposé,” Condie said. “I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus … but I also feel like it’s (in) our realness that we learn, and it’s (in) our realness that we connect with each other.”
One of Condie’s favorite stories from the book comes in the ninth chapter, about a woman named Cheri Hardisty Battrick. When Battrick felt prompted to move from Salt Lake City to Caldwell County, Missouri, with her husband, she found that prejudice against members of the LDS Church still raged, even hundreds of years after the tragic Hawn’s Mill Massacre and the driving out of the early members of the church.
Through listening to the Holy Ghost and keeping her religion a secret at first, Battrick forged deep friendships and found missionary experiences in unexpected places. Eventually, the hearts of many people in Missouri were softened, some even converted, and Battrick was able to see the first LDS stake established in Caldwell County since the Mormon pioneers left in 1839.
Condie says she loves doing compilation books because she feels that each chapter and each story offers its own voice and its own advice to help readers through any number of circumstances they may be going through.
“I’ve heard from thousands of readers that these women have become their friends, and they feel like they’re not alone in their own (trials),” Condie said.
Condie added that she's gotten responses not only from LDS women about the experiences in her book but also from men and women of all different religions, nationalities and life circumstances.
Condie is preparing to send her oldest son on an LDS mission at the end of the year and said she's eating up all the family time she can get before he leaves. She also plans to release new books next year in January and the spring, while hopefully continuing her With God series in the near future.
“I feel like it’s really a mission,” Condie said. “And when that mission stops, it stops. But right now, I feel really grateful. I love that these stories are connecting with people.”
“I Can Forgive With God” has no described violence, sexual scenes or crude language, and offers hope for hard times. It does, however, contain stories of sexual assault, abuse and war-torn tragedy that are shared in general terms that may be hard for young readers, or readers who have experienced similar situations, to read.