suzanne woods fisher What if your capacity to forgive the big things starts with your ability to let the little things go? That person who cut you off in traffic – that irritating woman in line at the grocery store – each opportunities to get ready for those moments where serious grace is needed. And we’ll all get there. Everyone has been hurt. Everyone experiences conflicts, great and small. Everyone has someone to forgive. In The Heart of the Amish: Life Lessons on Peacemaking and the Power of Forgiveness (Revell/May 5, 2015/ISBN: 978-0800722036/$12.99), bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher reveals the lessons that the Amish teach about what to do when we just can’t bring ourselves to forgive someone who has wronged us.

Through true stories gathered from a variety of Amish communities, Fisher illustrates how they are able to release their pain and desire for revenge, living at peace with others. Readers will learn how to invite God into their stories, apply lessons from the Amish to their own circumstances, and find the freedom that comes with true forgiveness.

the heart of the amish

Read an excerpt from The Heart of the Amish:

 The Amish believe that to forgive an enemy-so contrary to human nature-is to follow Jesus’s instructions on forgiveness, as well as His example. And they don’t just seek to forgive. They also love and bless those enemies.

I’ve always asserted that studying the Amish doesn’t mean you have to “go Amish.” But I’ve also discovered that much (not all, but much) of what drives their customs and traditions isn’t, or shouldn’t be, unique to the Amish. Many behaviors belong to all Christians. Key customs, such as the eternal significance of forgiving others, rest on verses from the Lord’s Prayer, embedded in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-8).

An oft-repeated proverb is “You can stop forgiving others when Christ stops forgiving you.” The fundamentals of Amish forgiveness rest on a literal interpretation of this verse: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14-15 KJV).

Most Protestant traditions assert that forgiveness begins with God, that we receive it and then are able to forgive others. The Amish believe they receive forgiveness from God only if they extend forgiveness to others.

Better minds than mine have tried to settle that sticky theological debate. Anglican theologian John Stott might have best captured the intention of Jesus’s words in his book Through the Bible, Through the Year: “This certainly does not mean that our forgiveness of others earns us the right to be forgiven. It is rather that God forgives only the penitent, and that one of the chief evidences of true penitence is a forgiving spirit.”

Whether, like the Amish, you accept a literal interpretation of those verses or a more figurative interpretation, it is clear that forgiving others who wrong us is evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit within us.

Forgiveness is a habitual way of thinking. The Amish believe that life isn’t fair-the toast burns, the milk spills, the car breaks down. They believe we are part of an imperfect world, far from the Garden. They expect life not to be fair, so when the hard things come into their life-and they do, just like everyone’s life-they’ve had experience with how to manage them.

What will spill out of you when you are under great stress is what spills out of you now in the day-to-day friction of living.

Our ability to forgive what seems unforgiveable is deeply connected to how we handle the smaller transgressions: when someone cuts in front of us at the grocery store, when our spouse forgets an anniversary, when our family accidentally locks us out of the house.

Forgiveness is like a muscle: the more it is exercised, the more it can do. And the more you practice forgiving the little hurts in life, the better you will be able to handle the big hurts.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who taught and lived forgiveness,said it best: “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.”

Learn more about Suzanne Woods Fisher and The Heart of the Amish at, on Facebook (SuzanneWoodsFisherAuthor) or by following her on Twitter (@SuzanneWFisher).