stock your life skill tool box. have a conversation with your heart long before it becomes wounded. the two of you decide to make forgiveness a tool you will use when it is needed. this way when forgiveness is required, the decision is already made and the issue is settled. your best life decisions are made when you are not in the midst of trouble. decide beforehand, what your approach to life will be.
give yourself time. a raw wound is not ready for healing. it may be necessary to allow time and distance. however, deciding to make forgiveness part of the life skill tool box will guide the heart toward forgiveness when the time is right.
forgive yourself. a great place to start when forgiving is to forgive yourself. often, we can feel upset with ourselves. “why did i not see?”, if i had only…”, “i swore i would never let…”. we put our hearts through torture trying to figure out “why”, “what if”, or “if only”. we add insult to injury by blaming ourselves. we can be wounded without any effort on our part. release yourself from responsibility that does not belong to you. forgive yourself for any real part that you played and refuse to punish yourself.
learn the valuable lessons. if you need to apply more wisdom going forward. learn what that wisdom should be…apply it where possible…move forward. evaluating if healthy boundaries are necessary and setting them in place can assist the heart in returning to a feeling of safety.
remember when you needed forgiveness and mercy. try as we might, we are going to blow it…maybe by the end of the day. remembering you have needed mercy in the past helps to soften the heart. realizing that when you desperately needed and wanted forgiveness because your intentions were not to wound, will help your heart walk toward forgiveness.
refuse to inflict pain because you were hurt. maya angelo says that just because you have pain does not mean you have to be one. revenge feels like a natural weapon to raise in defence of your heart yet it is very destructive. your heart needs to understand that you do not have to extract punishment. however, forgiveness does not remove consequences especially if legal action is required.
practice being kind and tender-hearted. keeping your heart tender will prepare it for forgiveness. practice kindness in some way toward someone outside of your situation. practice speaking kind words. be gentle with an infant. find ways to open your heart in non-threatening situations so that is not tempted to become hard, harsh and cold.
have your say. i’m sure the heart would love the opportunity to provide an “earful” to the offender. most often, we don’t get the opportunity for confrontation. if the opportunity is provided and is safe, think carefully about what you need the offender to know about what happened, how it impacted you and that you plan to move forward with life. if you are not provided the opportunity or it is not safe to do so in person, writing a letter (whether sent or not) can provide the ability to “get off your chest” what your heart feels is important to be said. once you have given voice to your heart…let it end there. don’t keep rehearing the situation. rehearsing the offense just keeps the wound bleeding.
put forgiveness to work. when you are ready…apply forgiveness. if you will replace the temptation- to tell yourself or a friend how badly you were hurt- with the statement, “i am forgiving this offense”- the wound will begin to heal from the inside out.
practice forgiveness. practice bringing your emotions, behaviour and thoughts back to a functional place. when i was working with my heart to forgive my ex-husband, i began to practice speaking to him in a respectful way…even before i wanted to offer a respectful response. with each conversation, it became easier to speak kindly. even when it was necessary to be firm, i found that i could say what needed to be said in a kind way- for my heart’s sake. understanding that forgiveness is a life-style is important. it is not an immediate fix or a one time occurrence. it’s an act of faith. a decision. a hard decision. a valuable, life changing decision.
i have had many opportunities in my life that required forgiveness for me to live my best life. these are not just words. i have lived in an attempt to extract revenge…my heart growing harder…my life unsettled…and feeling trapped.
there have been simple offenses- hurtful words spoken to or at me.
a drunken driver caused an automobile accident that put me in the hospital, injured my baby sister and claimed the life of my fiancé.
i have been through a very volatile divorce.
i have had business partners betray my trust and steal assets that they had no rights to steal.
i have been tricked.
i have lied to.
i have been cheated on.
yet, in each and every circumstance, i have found the most healing, freeing approach for my life was to walk through the steps of forgiveness.
in fact, the last situation i found myself involved in was a complete shock to my heart and system. i was amazed at my heart because after years of practicing forgiveness – i heard myself say, “i forgive you”…immediately. i had to pinch myself to make sure i was really aware of what i had just said…it was me…i had quickly chosen forgiveness…and it was so much easier than it used to be.
hopefully your heart will be able to find this life skill useful on your journey.
forgiveness is a sweet fragrance…your heart offers when it is crushed.
forgiveness is a powerful life skill within your grasp. using this tool can help the heart in its search for wholeness.
When you forgive, you are:
choosing a healthy coping strategy. there are two coping strategies: keep cycling in the pain or move forward. one is a healthy strategy, the other is dysfunctional. one leads to healing and growth, the other can lead to “post traumatic stress”.
practicing true love. understanding the importance of love to all human beings helps prepare the ground of the heart for sowing the seed of forgiveness. in the initial stages of forgiveness, this might make you as mad as a hatter. it’s still true. living a life motivated by compassion is very powerful. i may hate the offense but compassion will open my eyes to the pain within the offender’s heart that directed his/her behaviour.
offering a debt-free status. have you ever had a bill paid for you or on your behalf? have you ever handed a person in need the money to pay off a bill they were struggling with? do you remember what that felt like? i have and i do. no matter how hard we try, we will never be able to undo the offense. it’s been done. when you forgive, you are not excusing the offense. you are acknowledging the inability to ever undo, compensate, or change what was done. clinging to unforgiveness will never bring my fiance who (was killed by a drunken driver) back to me. that man will never be able to pay what is owed. he paid legal consequences but he has no ability to settle the score in my heart. i can release the debt so that i can go on living.
giving your heart a gift. the Aramaic meaning for the word forgive is “untie”. when you forgive -you untie yourself from the effects of the offense. you grab a “get out jail free card” and you set your heart free. you step out of the prison of stress, frustrations, anger, bitterness, torment, and unhappiness.
taking control of your own life. while you may not have had a choice when the offense occurred, you do have a choice in what happens next! your heart can become wounded with no action on your part. you can take action -take control of your life by using a powerful tool called choice.
laying down your judge’s gavel. our heart naturally cries for justice. however, lay your gavel down and leave ultimate justice to the One who wears the judge’s cloak. it’s been said -what goes around comes around~karma bites~you reap what you sow~…you may have a differing philosophy than i do. we all recognize that in the end, we never really get by with anything…there is a principle at work in life. i, personally, believe it is an unchangeable, spiritual principle of reaping and sowing. i don’t believe it can be ignored and more than the law of gravity can be. it relieves me from the role of judge that i was not built to take on.
exchanging your weapons for useful tools. revenge is a weapon. when we lift our weapon of revenge, we become willing to make great sacrifices to our lives. we are willing to exchange useful solutions for a consuming drive for recompense that is surrounded by hatred, anger, and scheming. i choose to pursue a better way of living…not a destructive way of living.
guarding your life values. i want to be free to live my life plan. one of my core values is to live practicing being useful, helpful and kind to one another, tender-hearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely]…(-Paul to the Ephesians). i can not be true to this life value if i am allowing my heart to be weighted down with anger, resentment, revenge, etc. i guard my values and standards and refuse to take on any attributes that do not line up…i have to be me…and forgiving allows me to be the best me i can be!
offering mercy. i am convinced that hurting people-hurt people. wounded, broken hearts drive people to behaviors that they would never have imagined. i have been shocked at some of my behavior patterns following devastating circumstances. my daughter had an abusive boyfriend one time~following many attempts to help the young man and behaviors worsening, i lashed out in a way that i must admit embarrasses me to recall today. when i took time to objectively think about what he had been through in his life, i changed my approach dramatically. i was able to show mercy while outlining healthy boundaries for our family’s safety. interestingly enough, his behavior toward me changed. when he spoke to me, he used respectful words. my offer of mercy did not change his behavior overall but when he was in my presence and with my child, he showed restraint. i impacted my environment.
activating a powerful spiritual law. you don’t have to study nature for very long before it becomes quite evident how the laws of nature work. i can not defy gravity with out some strict boundaries in place for my own well-being. airplanes crash all the time because simple rules have not been followed. i am familiar with governmental laws. whether i agree or not with tax laws, i am required to pay taxes unless i want to pay the penalty. there is a powerful spiritual law called the law of forgiveness. i can ignore it. swear up and down i don’t believe it exists…yet, when i refuse to apply it to my heart…the consequences are devastating. on the other side of that, if i live within its boundaries, there is safety, wholeness, happiness and well-being available to me.
when i cut my finger, i protect and nurture it as the healing process takes place. i don’t keep digging at it, irritating it and reopening it- healing never occurs when i do that. i allow the necessary time to heal the wound from the inside out…and once it’s healed…i leave the experience behind me and use that finger like it was never injured.
forgiveness is an important part of healing the heart. protect and nurture it as it heals…but don’t keep the wound forever bleeding…apply the salve of forgiveness and allow the heart to love like it had never been hurt. it will heal. if i let it.
10 things you are not doing when you forgive…you are NOT:
ignoring the offense
justifying the injustice
waiting for an apology
enabling a recurrence
expecting forgiveness to be a one time event
gaining power over the offender
forgiveness is a gift…given to the heart…a permission to live on…pursue happiness…live large…to love again.
“Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another…” -Paul to the Ephesians
change occurs all the time. change could be right around the corner. change is inevitable. i look in the mirror and i see change (at my age now) that seems to occur every day. from birth until death, my body is going through change. i have looked forward to some of those changes. i remember as a young girl anxiously awaiting certain bodily changes to occur and later discovering that those changes were not all i hoped they would be. i remember hoping that i would grow several more inches because i was so short. for some reason the inches kept growing around my waist and not to my height. ugh! change is inevitable and growing is not optional for my body.
changes in life are inevitable. growing through those changes emotionally is optional and completely in my control.
the seasons change four times a year every year. we can learns ways to cope with life’s changes from our experience with nature’s seasonal changes.
Don’t be caught off guard. we are aware that each seasonal change is coming. each season is different and unique. we can’t stop the change but we can prepare for it. life changes are similar. some changes are expected. a child will loose their baby teeth at around the age of 5-6 years old. menopause occurs approximately between the age of 40-61 years of age. we get an understanding of what we are in for and can prepare for it. however, unexpected change is going to happen. life is full of surprises. the first step in coping with change is to accept that change is a reality and is inevitable.
Don’t ignore the signals. when summer is finishing and fall is on it’s way, the first signals are apparent. the temperatures begin to drop, for one. i usually begin telling myself, “it’s may, fall is almost here”. did that shock you? it would because for my readers in America, you would be looking forward to summer following may, right? well, it’s the end of fall in New Zealand. my point is that i begin to prepare so that i am not caught off guard for seasonal changes. in life, once we come to terms with the reality of change, it is important to be on the outlook for the signals that are telling us that change is coming. when i went through my divorce, the signs were all there and i hid my head in the sand. this was partly due to my emotional state of mind. nonetheless, the signs were there and i was unprepared. however, when i needed to leave my last job, my comfort zone was becoming less comfortable. my husband and i had decided three months earlier that the time had come to leave and that i would work in the business we owned. the day i resigned was a bit of a shock to both myself and my boss but i had actually been preparing myself long before that day. i actually had my resignation letter written and ready to hand over. we, then, worked through the logistics to make it happen.
practice a trauma plan. this is probably one of my favourite steps. civil defence, in every city i have ever lived in, practices a trauma plan. seasonal changes sometimes bring traumatic weather. being prepared helps preserve life. hospitals practice steps they will take in the event of an emergency. i have a trauma plan for my life. this plan includes how to have difficult conversations; which reactions are appropriate and which are not; when to hold it together and when to fall apart; actions to take, and other skills i can apply when i feel taken off guard. i am trained in cpr. when i see the signs that indicate someone is in trouble, i have practiced the techniques often enough that i can step in and help. i decided that this practice is a smart skill for my life and i practice. i won’t have all the answers for every surprise that comes my way; however, i am better prepared for the most common issues and can think my way through the problem, change, or critical issues when they arise….because i am not freaked out. firstly, I’ve practiced remaining calm. remember how i’ve said before that i say to my daughter, “don’t panic”? it’s because it is part of my trauma plan (like in a medical emergency) to remain calm. secondly, i can work with myself to get to the worst case scenario, “how bad can it be?” once i have coped with that…everything better than the worst case scenario is a big celebration-for me…well, actually, it’s just easier to cope with. 😉
now, what to control. while i can not change many of my circumstances, i can change me, my reactions, and how i adjust and grow. the seasons are going to change no matter how much i protest that i only prefer to live in summer. throwing a fit does nothing to effect the fact that fall is on it’s way and then winter. therefore, i have to work with it…make the adjustments…get my warmer clothes ready to wear. change may turn my world upside down but i can choose to make the most of the situation and grow. blaming is natural but not really effective and can have many adverse effects. choosing growth and empowerment gives me the strength to handle the change in a dignified way.
regroup and go forward. every season requires that i regroup. i go through my closet, de-clutter, throw out things i never wear, wash and put away that season’s clothing and bring out what i need for the new season. change is a great time to re-evaluate life. am i being true to my most “authentic self” as Oprah would say or my purpose? have i made quality decisions or do i need to make further, controlled changes to prevent future catastrophes? are my life choices bringing me closer to my life goals, values and happiness? if not, now is a great time to regroup and tweak the plan. once the adjustments to the change are made, allow time to get into the groove of the new habits, patterns or way of life then move forward. life is a journey…keep moving forward…growing as you go…making decisions with as much wisdom as you can acquire… and live.
change is inevitable but it doesn’t have to feel like it came from left field leaving us stunned and unable to cope. preparing for change is an important life skill that will help growth continue and transitions occur as easily as possible. practicing these tips will help you begin to handle change like a pro…at least the pro of your life!
here we are facing another weekend…hope it’s great!
the baggage of your past, the anxiety of what tomorrow holds, and the moment’s circumstances can weigh the heart down. i know by experience. yet, one simple step can lighten the load the heart carries.
remind your heart to enjoy the miracle of your existence today (Dr. Robert Holden).
feel yourself breath. feel the beat of your heart. move. touch. smell. taste. you are alive and well -despite your circumstances. this day holds possibilities, answers, truths, joys, love, peace, faith…just because your are here today to reach out and grab them.