Forgiveness. A simple word, really. People do it all the time… for small things.
But, what about the really big things? Things like rape, adultery, physical abuse, mental abuse, incest, robbery, murder, child exploitation/abuse, kidnapping, or any number of other violent acts against humanity? Can you forgive then?
Like many of us, I have had terrible things happen to me that I have had to learn to forgive. It took me many years to come to the realization that the hatred I harbored for my ‘enemies’ was actually destroying me inside.
My MC in THE CONSEQUENTIAL ELEMENT, Danielle Montgomery, has to learn this lesson for herself. She’s suffered. Greatly.
· Murder: Fifteen year old Danielle cradled her mother’s wounded body in her lap and begged the African rebel soldier not to shoot again. But he did.
· Kidnapping: Danielle was awarded to this murderer, Obasanji, as a prize to the young rebel for his conquest of the small Congolese village.
· Rape: As Obasanji’s prize, she was forced, day after day, night after night, to succumb to his every whim.
· Physical and mental abuse: Danielle was trained as a rebel soldier and forced to kill innocent women and children, or face dire consequences.
· Betrayal by her own country, the USA: The US government refused to send in a rescue team for a young girl that they had no idea either lived or died.
It took three years before her uncle was able to put together a team of mercenaries and complete a rescue mission to save her. For three years she lived amongst the scum of the Continent with the man who stole her soul. She would have lost her mind, if it wasn’t for Zulu, her fellow prisoner, and friend from the village. He encouraged her to live, and reminded her frequently that the person she had become was not the person she would be forever.
Now, thirty-two year old Danielle is doing her best to blend into the cityscape of Boston, MA, where she struggles to lead a normal, yet rigid life behind a façade of normalcy. Nothing or no one gets into her tight little world. No one that is, except for Sarah Everett, her one and only friend, and Roland Dupre, her last surviving relative and renowned archaeologist.
It takes all her strength each day to deal with the lingering effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Lingering, Sarah says, because Danielle can’t let go of her hatred for Obasanji. Sarah knows Danielle’s secret. Buried beneath the façade, lies Danielle’s deepest desire: murder. She wants Obasanji dead, and she wants to be the one to do it. Her hatred has consumed her. She finds herself living and breathing for the sweet taste of revenge. It beckons from her dreams, haunts her waking hours, and festers in her empty heart. The question is, how?
And then a letter written in her uncle’s hand arrives, and along with it, an encrypted notebook and a small piece of a map. The letter speaks of a fantastic discovery that he’s made deep within the Congo. One that will change the fate of the troubled United States from China’s imminent attack: a rare earth element known as Promethium, the missing element needed for the completion of Viper 6 – an unprecedented stealth missile that will secure the position of world leader for United States.
But General Sao, a Chinese commander sent to Africa to mine for rare earths, has other ideas. He enlists the aid of the rebel forces known as the Lord’s Resistance Army, led by no other than the now Major Colonel, Obasanji. Sao promises Obasanji that China will help move blood diamonds out of the country, which will provide money to fund his army.
Now Danielle’s uncle has gone missing, and the C.I.A. wants the information she has. Only, the letter she received said to trust no one but Dobbs in Homeland Security. Trouble is Dobbs is dead. Danielle uses her uncle’s disappearance as an excuse to return to Africa.
Enter Kayden Moreau, a mercenary hired by her uncle before his disappearance to protect her. Only, Danielle wants nothing to do with him. She fears he will discover her secret for revenge and thwart her mission. Kayden takes his job seriously. He was hired to protect her, and that’s what he’s going to do. But, he wasn’t hired to fall in love with her, and he does that, too.
Whether she likes it or not, Kayden is forced to save her life on more than one occasion. And Danielle finds herself drawn to him, struggling with the mysterious and unfamiliar feelings that rage within her whenever he’s near.
Unable to shake him off, Danielle is forced to lead him and a small team of men, consisting of former special ops Marines to African cattle ranchers, on a voyage into the harsh, remote corners of the Congo; a journey where Danielle makes a phenomenal discovery of her own.
She finds Obasanji, but to her horror she learns that he’s the only man alive who can help her find her uncle and the cave where the element was discovered. His price is her forgiveness. Now, she is forced to make a choice: will she forgive him for the murder of her mother and destruction of her life, or is her desire for revenge more than she can bear?
Danielle must endure through car chases with shootouts, kidnapping, and treasure hunting, in order to reach her goal, only to get herself taken, once again, as a prisoner of Obasanji. Kayden and his team must go head-to-head with Obasanji’s army in order to attempt a rescue mission to save Danielle and her uncle. But is it too late?
The lesson of forgiveness is a hard one. To survive takes courage, but to forgive also takes courage. And the act must be consciously desired and made. It is not for the ones who’ve harmed us, but for ourselves, for the rescue and survival of our souls, and is in-and-of-itself, the most courageous act of all.
Christmas reminds me that forgiveness is a charity that should be given. It is God’s gift to us, and one that must be re-gifted many times over.
I hope that you can find it within yourself to forgive, this holiday season. Forgive, and set yourself free.