Getting Rid of the Gorilla (Standard Publishing, 2008)
Getting Rid of the Gorilla: Confessions on the Struggle to Forgive is Brian Jones’ second book, following Second Guessing God. Written in Brian’s unique style, this book is a frank and honest discussion of the author’s own lengthy battles with anger and rage. Brian intersperses his account with frequent quotations from a wide variety of Christian as well as appropriate secular sources to introduce or illuminate key concepts. His self-effacing, dry sense of humor lightens a very serious subject.
Brian begins by observing that many of our sins are sins we choose, but an unforgiving heart (aka”the gorilla’) begins when sin chooses us. Left unchecked, eventually unforgiveness spills over into all aspects of our lives and imprisons us. The primary word Jesus uses for forgiveness is aphiemi (Greek), which retains the sense of releasing something closely held or trapped. When we hold on to pain and anger, they meet in our soul and start to grow, turning our anger into rage. One major difference between anger and rage is that anger is a natural response, whereas rage is manufactured.
For authentic forgiveness to occur, we need to start by creating physical and emotional space to heal. Once that happens, the forgiveness process will proceed if we want it to happen and are willing to work to make it happen. Brian emphasizes that the key is to lean on Jesus, the only one who can overcome Satan and the forces of darkness, since forgiveness is first and foremost a spiritual issue.
Brian offers specific ways for getting rid of the gorilla: discipleship, indicative of what a Christian does; kindness, which softens our hearts and reminds us of our common sinfulness and need for a Savior; and prayer- to quite an anxious, wounded heart.
Brian notes that his struggle with forgiveness “has taught him the spiritual discipline of joy.” Ultimately, we must choose between bitterness and joy. Joy will send the gorilla packing!