When your heart is filled with a lust for vengeance, is there any room left for love? In her latest book, The Heart’s Pursuit (Zondervan/May 20, 2014/ISBN: 978-0310259275/$15.99), author Robin Lee Hatcher examines issues of the heart that all of us will eventually face: forgiveness and the desire for justice — or even retribution. The Heart’s Pursuit tells the story of two desperate characters who are hot on the trail of the villains who have harmed them. Silver Matlock is a Colorado beauty determined to track down the rogue who left her at the altar and stole the last remnant of her father’s fortune. Bounty hunter Jared Newman, as rugged as the West itself, seeks out the murderer who destroyed his family. Like so many who have been hurt by others, Silver and Jared must face the answer to this question: Will vengeance and payback heal their wounded hearts?
Q: What is the spiritual thread that runs through The Heart’s Pursuit?
Forgiveness, justice and trust.
Q: Both of the main characters are out for revenge against people who have taken something from them. Why do you think readers will be able to relate to those feelings?
Everybody has been hurt by someone in their lives. Some wounds go very deep, others stay on the surface, but they still affect the heart.
Part of my nature is a strong desire for justice to be done. Not only justice for myself but for the world around me. But there is a fine line between fighting for justice and the yearning for revenge upon those who are unjust. We must learn to leave such matters to God, to let go of the hurts and forgive and to trust God with the outcome.
Q: We can all think of people who have wronged us. What is the effect of anger and bitterness on our hearts and lives?
It is my opinion that most often we hold onto anger and bitterness because we have the mistaken notion that it will somehow hurt the person who hurt us. The truth is, that person probably isn’t giving us a single thought and may not care at all about what they’ve done. Holding onto anger and bitterness isn’t hurting them; it’s hurting us. Anger and bitterness are like a poison spreading in our hearts, and they will consume us if we don’t let go. Forgiveness isn’t really about the person who offended us at all. It is about us. We are made better, healthier and cleaner when we forgive those who have wronged us.
Q: Have you ever desired revenge? If so, how did you move beyond that desire into forgiveness?
Yes, I have been so hurt that I wanted revenge and found it difficult to forgive. I began a practice many years ago that has helped me overcome and truly forgive. I begin by writing on an index card: “Today, I forgive ‘So-and-So’ as an act of will and obedience to Christ.” Then I will date the card, sign my name and place the card in my Bible. Whenever old feelings of hurt rise up in me, I pull out that card and remind myself (and the devil who is whispering lies in my ear) that I have forgiven that person.
Next, I pray for the person who has wronged and hurt me. I ask God to save her if she doesn’t know the Lord. Then I ask God to bless her socks off. I ask for her to have financial success and success in her career and in her relationships and in any other way I can think of. I have found it impossible to harbor resentment in my heart when I am praying for blessings to be poured out on someone.
An important distinction to remember is that we are not required to feel forgiveness. We are simply commanded to forgive as an act of obedience. We forgive because God tells us to. We forgive because He first forgave us. I have found that when I forgive in obedience, the feeling of forgiveness eventually follows.
Q: Some of your contemporary releases draw on your personal experiences. Do you relate to the characters in a historical novel like The Heart’s Pursuit? If so, which ones and why?
There are pieces of me in every character I create. Or at least there are pieces of emotions and circumstances I have learned empathy for through my observations of life. And whatever God is teaching me when I am writing a novel will surely find its way into that story in one form or another. Because of that, yes, I do relate to my characters, whether the setting is historical or contemporary.
Q: Silver, your leading lady, has come to believe she isn’t deserving of love. What would you say to the person who feels like God could never love them?
I have seen others take on a hurt that makes them believe themselves undeserving of love, and I’ve witnessed the harm that can cause through the years. Believing God cannot love us almost always stems from thinking we have to earn His love — that there is something we must do or give up that will make us a better person and therefore worthy of being loved. It is a lie straight from the devil’s lips. Reject it! My advice for someone struggling with this belief, and a reminder to myself when I know I’ve tripped up in my walk with Christ, is for us to get into the Bible and discover for ourselves all He has said about His love for us.
Q: At first, Silver and Jared are united in their mission for justice — but the dishonesty that exists between them creates a wedge. What lessons about honesty are there for real-life relationships?
Secrets and dishonesty are enemies of any intimate relationship, whether its nature is platonic, romantic or familial. We must learn to tell the truth in love. That is never easy. In 2003, Randy Alcorn released a wonderful book called The Grace and Truth Paradox that made a huge impact on me when it comes to speaking both truth and grace into any situation. I highly recommend it.
Q: Every generation that experiences war is changed by what they go through. How did the Civil War, which ended eight years before this book opens, impact your characters’ families? In what ways were the protagonists still carrying the weight of those experiences?
The war itself took away Jared’s brothers and may have played a part in the evil that befell the remaining family members after the war. Silver’s father chose to take his family to a place where they could start over, leaving behind the sadness of so many missing young men in their former hometown.
We all carry the weight of what has happened to us in our lives. Our experiences shape us, sometimes strengthening our character and sometimes weakening it. The same is true for Jared and Silver.
Q: What do you want your readers to take away with them after they’ve closed the covers of The Heart’s Pursuit?
My first hope, as always, is that my readers will have been entertained for a few hours and that they will have come to love my characters and perhaps even miss them when the book is over. Secondly, I hope they will have taken one step closer to God because of something one of my characters learned over the course of the story.