Author explores how to get beyond pain, suffering and injustice

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Dawn Forman with her sisters

By Michael Ashcraft —

One woman’s husband died at war while she was pregnant. Another lost 198 Jewish family members during the Holocaust. A man witnessed the sexual abuse of his sister and withdrew into himself, drinking excessively to deaden the memory.

How do you move beyond life’s pain and suffering? Between the Lines, Beyond the Pain examines that question and weighs why some people never recover from the injustices of our fallen world.

The author, Dawn Forman, personally experienced her own torment when she was raped by her step-dad.

Remarkably, she makes the case for compassion — and empathy — for everyone. She urges her readers to stop judging others or writing them off. She exhorts them to greater understanding, valuing everyone.

“The stars cannot be seen until they are set against ebony background of the night sky,” Forman writes. “So it is with people… (they) shine as stars (when we learn) what they have endured or overcome in their lives.”

Forman is a poet and includes some of her poems in the small volume. In the process of overcoming pain, poetry can be part of the healing journey, as evidenced by David in the Psalms.

Forman was born in the San Fernando Valley to an angry, distant father, who never processed his childhood trauma and lashed out at those around him, including his three girls.

“Though I have found much healing,” she says, “I still bear scars.”

Absent a loving father, Forman became promiscuous. Sex, drugs and the under-21 dance club “The Sugar Shack” were part of the equation.

“Emotionally crippled by my formative years spent with my father, the choices I began to make as a teenager reflect my aching soul,” she narrates in the autobiographical volume. “Unworthy, unloved and unequal to those around me, I was always searching for a place where I felt I belonged. This left me extremely vulnerable. Male attention became like a drug itself. I was gouging multiple, deeper scars into my already wounded heart and soul.”

Her parents divorced when she was 16. She started spending more time with friends as lost as herself. Quaaludes, cocaine, barbiturates and angel dust became her thing, all to the beat of David Bowie’s “Rebel, Rebel.”

She went from hanging out with drug addicts to hanging out with drug dealers. Once she got accused of being a narc at a satanic party in San Francisco. Several times she had brushes with death.

After a three-day drug binge, she overdosed. Only then did she think of the Jesus freaks she ridiculed when she passed them on the sidewalk. They told her Jesus loved her and had a plan for her; she sneered and moved on. But when she overdosed, she remembered.

“My life was a miserable mess,” she recalls. “In my eyes, I was a pathetic waste of flesh, a failure, unlovable wretch, full of anger and pain.”

As she lingered close to death, she cried out. “Jesus, if you are real, I do not want to die.”

At that moment something remarkable happened. God showed her a vision of a radiant giant cross burning like the sun.

“I felt a surge of peace flow through me,” she recounts. “And though I had three days worth of drugs in me, I, all at once, felt none of the effects of them, and also no longer felt like I was going to die.”

She returned home touched and changed. But she had no guidance and no clue to go to church, read a Bible or link up with Christians.

The devil waylaid her God moment with a plan to distract her focus. He brought a smooth-talking, charming drifter named Terry into her life. He swept her off her feet and took her across the country, hitchhiking and worked odd jobs — such as picking fruit in Washington orchards.

Terry had a fast-talking lie for every time he cheated on Dawn, but when he left her in the back of a Greyhound Bus for a new girl in the front of the bus, Dawn called it quits. She returned safely to California all by herself from Tennessee with the help of five gracious truck drivers.

She began attending church, turning her heart toward the Lord.

Then she made the unwelcome discovery she was pregnant by Terry.

When little Austin was born, it transformed Dawn. It gave her a purpose in life and a reliable fountain of love. She was growing in the Lord and met and married a man who became a pastor. They planted a church in Little Rock, California, and then another one in Marseilles, France. The couple had four children.

Unfortunately, not everything was beautiful and unbroken as a pastor’s wife with a family. There were setbacks, heartbreaks and poor decisions by her children.

The one constant in life, she learned, was pain.

Then her father died.

The book reveals how she made peace, reunited with her sisters, and found beauty in the midst of the pain.

Between the Lines, Beyond the Pain is not a 12-step program or a psychologist’s practical guide to avoid bitterness. It is an explores and suggests a pathway.

“Forgiving is not excusing the pain they have inflicted on you; it is going beyond your pain, find the story behind the story of their life in order to separate the person from the injustice,” Dawn writes. “We all have to struggle to find our own path.”

Michael Ashcraft sells bamboo steamers on Amazon to support for his free Christian journalism.