Is it really? Can I make that bold of a statement? Why yes I can, and yes it is! Okay, forgiveness doesn’t pay bills, but the point I want to make here is that our lives can be WONDERFUL if only we choose to forgive. We are constantly hurt our whole lives. Our feelings get crushed. Some of us become so wounded we never recover. Anger and hurt combined cripples us. A wrong word, a wrong look, a snarky reply, an angry text, a mean email, a nasty verbal fight, an abusive relationship, an abusive parent, an intolerant boss…..all of these things contribute to our pain. If we don’t learn how to get rid of the hurt, pain will pile up and crush us until we are immobilized. Imagine if you will an act of pain is one penny. Every time someone hurts or offends you, you have to take a penny. Do you know how many pennies you would have by the end of the day? By the end of the week? By the end of the month? By the end of the year? I can tell you right now if you had to carry them around on your person, they would be too heavy, even if you had double lined pockets. You would not be able to cart that much around. And hey, the analogy is not over yet. Now, EVERY SINGLE TIME you relive that painful memory, you have to add another penny. Okay, do you get the picture? Do you realize how many pennies you would have NOW? Some people get up every day and rehash painful events. Yikes! Many of you would be pinned underneath the weight of all those pennies, and unable to move. That is what unforgiveness will do to you. Sure, one penny isn’t very much, but it’s the accumulation of unresolved hurt and unforgiveness that over time will crush you. We need to understand that pain is heavy. It is oppressively heavy. We were not made to carry around pain. We were made to love. So, what to do? We must learn how to forgive, so that we can live, and love others. We need to learn to drop the pennies, not pick them up over and over again.
WE NEED GOD TO HELP US FORGIVE
Hurt. Pain. It doesn’t matter how it was caused, the end result of an injustice done to us is hurt. So, it seems to me the most important thing we can learn in life is to forgive those who hurt us. We will never be perfect. We don’t come out of the womb as ignorant, horrible mean people, we come out tiny and innocent. But we grow up, get hurt, and our innocence gets lost. Those who don’t know God, don’t know of his love. And without God, how do we learn how to forgive? The world teaches to get even, karma, to take revenge, to hate, and to never forgive or forget. But God teaches us that we need to love, forgive one another AND forget. It says in his word that as far as the east is from the west, that’s how far our sins are removed from us. That means once forgiven, that sin will never come back, and never touch us again. (As long as we don’t repeat that same sin) If there’s anything to know about God, it is that HE is LOVE. His greatest commandment in the bible is to love him, and the second is to love others as ourselves. How on earth are we supposed to love others if they hurt us? That’s a tough question, but the answer is FORGIVENESS! We are told to cast ALL our cares on God, because he cares for us. That means we can give him EVERYTHING. Everything we care about. Do we care about having friends and relationships? You bet we do. We are built to need each other. We are built to love one another. We were built for relationships! God knows this, and wants to help us. His shoulders are big enough to lean on, and his hands are strong enough to hold all of our troubles. We don’t need to carry pain around, all we need to do is hand it over to him, and ask for help. God asks us to forgive, so that in turn, he will forgive us.
YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF YOUR MIND
You. Yes, you. Little ole you. No-one else can control your mind. You are the gatekeeper for every single thing that runs through your head. You have the power, and it really IS power, to decide what kind of day you will have. No matter what you wake up to – you have the power to choose what kind of day to have. It doesn’t matter if you are in jail. It doesn’t matter if you are married to a jerk. It doesn’t matter if your schoolteacher hates you. YOU have the power to decide what kind of day you are going to have. Don’t ever allow yourself to feel powerless. The battle for your mind is IN your mind. Choose your thoughts. Choose ahead of time how you’re going to react when things go south. Choose to wake up every day ready to tackle it. Choose to show love and kindness to those who don’t deserve it. Once you change YOUR life, everyone else around you will see the change, notice the change, and make changes themselves, I guarantee it! Change your thoughts, change your life!
BIBLICAL STORY OF JOSEPH
An excellent biblical example comes to my mind. Joseph. Some of you are familiar with him. Let me give you the quick story. Joseph was the son of Jacob, and he had 11 brothers. His ten older brothers were jealous of him, and so they sold him into slavery and told their dad he was killed by wild animals. Joseph didn’t whine, snivel, complain, and cry every day. He worked his butt off, showed respect, and he ended up working for a very powerful man. However, that powerful man had a beautiful wife who lusted after Joseph, and tried to snag him for a quickie. Joseph could have easily caved, but he didn’t. Joseph had integrity, and he ran away from her. She lied to her husband, and cried “rape!” Joseph ended up in Jail. He still didn’t whine, snivel, complain, or cry. Instead he worked hard, and again, proved himself to his jailers that he was responsible, which enabled him to be in a position of authority even in jail. He got out of jail by deciphering a dream for the King. YAY! And then he became the most important ruler in all of Egypt. Do you have any idea of how long that took? YEARS! Years and years and years. A situation that seemed to go from bad to worse. But he managed his thoughts, and he managed his life. He loved God, and trusted in him. Many of us would have given up. I can’t imagine going through all that. When his brothers came to Egypt to buy food, he forgave them, and showed them love and mercy, even after what they did to him. The bottom line here is: Forgiveness. Your attitude is everything. No matter what happens to you in life, you can choose how to react. You can get angry, blame, and seek revenge, or you can choose to forgive, love, and move on with your life. Be like Joseph!
STOP COPYING THE MOVIE GROUNDHOG DAY
Some of you seem intent on copying the premise of the movie Groundhog Day, in which Bill Murray plays a character that gets stuck in the same day on repeat for over a month. Yuck! I don’t know about you, but I would hate to get up every day, and relive every little thing that went wrong. Guess what. Forgiveness allows us to move on. Forgiveness allows us to forget the pain, and carry on. It doesn’t matter what was done to you – you have the power to change your thoughts about it. Someone offended you? Let it go. Life is too short to stay mad. Life keeps going, and guess what? It speeds up the older you get. My Grandma told me that when I was nineteen years old, and I remember I rolled my eyes (in my head, not at her) and I thought to myself, “no it won’t!” But she was right. I am now 52 years old, and life is getting faster and faster. I already think of things I wished I had done differently, I already have some pangs of regret, and I’m not even on my deathbed. Well, enough of the regret thoughts, I am choosing to forgive, forget, and live my life to the fullest that I can. We have no idea of how many days we have. Both of my Grandmas lived to 95, almost 96, and I thought my mom would live that long too! Nope, she got a rare form of cancer and died at age 65. I should have had another 30 years with her. Nope. So it is with my life. I don’t know how long I’m going to be here, so I should be making the most of it! And making the most of it is NOT staying angry, complaining to others about my ex, or trying to get even. Insert your own problems here. Think about it. Is life really worth wasting on anger? No, it isn’t.
FORGIVENESS BRINGS LIFE
Forgiveness really does give YOU life. When you learn to let go, you can get up and enjoy your day, instead of starting off angry. Who in their right mind would want to drink a bottle of poison to start their day? Not me! Deliberately making myself sick is not on my daily list of things to do. Drinking and carrying around anger will be a slow agonizing death, so choose right now to stop such destructive behaviour. You CAN decide, because you are in charge of every thought that goes through your head. Decide to stop, and don’t let yourself run through the record list of offences. Put on a new track, and start living. Forgiveness brings healing, because once you truly forgive someone that means you don’t bring up the offence again. You don’t talk about it. You don’t need to rehash it. Choose to focus on the positive about that person instead. Don’t worry – you don’t have to become best friends, or even hang out if you don’t want to!
FORGIVENESS BECOMES EASIER
Once you start learning how to forgive, you will find that it’s easy. You will find that you WANT to forgive, because you realize how liberating it is to be happy every day, instead of miserable. The more you forgive, the more you forget. The more you forget, the more you can carry on with life and enjoy it! You can choose to be happy every single day, no matter what happens. When cashiers at stores tell me to have a nice day after I’ve paid, I always say, “I am, I already decided yesterday!” Seriously! Decide ahead of time what kind of day you’re going to have: A GREAT ONE! Attitude is everything, it truly is. It won’t matter if your milk has gone sour and your cereal tastes terrible, it won’t matter if you get a flat tire on the way to work, it won’t matter if your child forgot their homework at home. You will be able to handle anything that comes up if you decide the minute you get out of bed that the day will be good. Now, there are going to be days that suck. There is no way we can have 100% great days every day, I realize this. But hey – 90% of them ARE going to be great days! So – strive for the 100, and you will at least hit 90. Isn’t that a great thought? And may I remind you – always choose to forgive. No matter what the offence is, let it go. Don’t stay mad at your hubby because he forgot to close the toilet seat….AGAIN. Don’t stay mad at your child because they put off their homework assignment and now you have to stay up late to help them. Don’t let the small things of the day get you down. At the end of each day, choose to forgive your family members for the things they did that annoyed you.
ASK FOR FORGIVENESS IF YOU NEED TO
We are always so caught up in everyone else who offends us, that we often forget that we can be annoying. It’s a really good idea to daily, or weekly to have a look at our behaviour, and see if there is anything we need to apologize for. You might have snapped one too many times at your child. You might have given your hubby a dirty look. Whatever it is – don’t let those things slide by. Apologize. Say sorry. Ask for forgiveness. It’s important! The worse thing that can happen in a marriage or partnership, or your relationship with your kids is that you never apologize for hurts. They can pile up, and if you don’t forgive, they will become brick walls. Never let the bricks get higher than your ankles, if you can help it. Don’t base your forgiveness on what others do. Don’t say to yourself, “I’m not going to say sorry unless they say sorry to me”, that’s foolishness. Get rid of the pain you are carrying. Who knows, maybe your sorry will trigger someone else to say sorry. Bottom line, you need to ask forgiveness for your offences. Don’t let them pile up and become insurmountable. Self-reflection is important, make sure you do it often!
FORGIVENESS TRULY IS THE ANSWER FOR EVERYTHING
When you forgive, you grow stronger. Only strong people can forgive. Train your brain right now to be strong. Fight like the dickens to get rid of your “I’m never going to forgive that person” thoughts. Get RID OF THEM RIGHT NOW! Change your mind. Literally change it. Say it out loud, “I am going to choose to forgive this person for hurting/abusing me”. Once you can say it, you will be able to do it. You will be able to forgive. And then train yourself not to allow yourself to continually go back to that person, or those angry thoughts. Ask God to carry that pain, and to take it away. Put it in your hands, hold them out to God, and then turn those hands over and let it drop. Once you have let it go, it can’t hurt you anymore. Train that brain of yours to become strong. Your brain is a muscle, it’s powerful, it’s strong. YOU have the power to heal yourself right now.