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Life's Little Lessons

"If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud." – Emile Zola

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What is Forgiveness Anyway?

I sat around a table Saturday morning at our monthly woman’s group gathering and we were going around the table sharing when someone spoke up and asked a question that has been with me since.

“What is forgiveness anyway?” (or something to that effect).

We ping ponged back and forth sharing our experience of it and on we went.

But it hasn’t left me. No. Not one bit.

Last night the Hunger Games was on TV so while in the kitchen making dinner, I had it on. Katniss had just volunteered herself as tribute in her sisters place and Peeta had just walked up on the platform. They were encouraged to shake hands and Katniss flashes back to a memory of living in District 12. It was a memory where she was hungry, wet and cold and sitting outside a bakery that Peeta’s family owned. He comes out with burnt loaves of bread and feeds them to the pigs. He sees her sitting in the rain and throws her one haphazardly like she is an animal too.

Flash forward. She shakes his hand begrudgingly.

Katniss has not forgiven.

That memory is shown again on the train as they travel towards the Capital. The reality that her and Peeta are on the same “team” keeps her going back to that cold, wet day. It is the memory of him she has lodged in her brain, the very memory of him that remains in her heart and keeps them working against one another instead of WITH one another.

It makes me think about forgiveness and how often I too have been like Katniss Everdeen, stubbornly replaying a bad memory in my head and in my heart when it comes to a particular person. Like a broken movie reel, I play it and then hit rewind, again and again. The more the memory is replayed, the more I add to it. The more not good feelings and thoughts are attached to what now is a very twisted scenario and I get offended all over again. Each and every time.

Rita Mae Brown once said, “One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.”

I could agree more.

I know from experience there is not a clear-cut definition of what forgiveness is. My sharing with you probably only touches a single aspect of it because it is multi-faceted and probably looks different for all of us. For me, I know whenever I refuse to stop propping my feet up in the back of some old movie cinema watching bad memories replay over and over, I take steps towards healing and healing always opens me up again to loving.

Jesus implored the Father on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” I really do think He was saying, “Father, LOVE them…”

And my heart opens up more easily when I am focused on moving forward. The past is the past. I can live there, in what happened or what was said but then I realize that I am not really living for one can only live in one moment at a time. If I choose to live THERE then I cannot live HERE. And here is where I want to live.

I am sure life has afforded you with opportunities to discover what forgiveness is to you. Probably as you read, someone has come to mind. Someone attached to a memory that constantly gets replayed in your head; a memory that holds you back from moving forward.  Perhaps that person is YOU. I can’t tell you what to do to forgive. I believe it is a process and looks different overtime and is an act of our choosing and not a feeling. I have found that the more I choose to intentionally keep my heart open to being searched, the more acutely aware of how much I truly am loved. Unconditionally. I always have been and always will be. And if I have been loved like that as in, “Father, LOVE her for she knows not what she does…”

Surely I can do the same.

Much Love,

August

 

Round Table Discussion:

*What is your initial reaction to the concept of forgiveness? How do you feel about the whole idea of forgiveness as a necessity?

*What does forgiveness look like to you? How have you given it and how have you received it?

*What characteristics in your life might indicate that you haven’t fully forgiven past hurts, even if you know in your head what you need to do?

On To The Next

The pounding of my feet can barely be heard over the continuous humming of the treadmill. I appreciate knowing that right now, the gym is an option and at the same time, loathe it. I am using it as an excuse to not run outside and I know it. I was made to run outside and I can feel myself wanting to hurry my time along to get done. The humming continues and I look down.

.67     .69     .75

3 miles is going to feel like FOREVER if I keep watching the distance tracker roll another number by.

.89

F-O-R-E-V-E-R.

Give me a cloud to look at or a conversation with a running partner to occupy my mind. Anything. I liken running on the treadmill to watching the grass grow or paint dry. The more I WATCH, the more IMPATIENT I become with WAITING. I have never been much of a WAITER.

The TV above my head is on. I watch it to distract myself. It’s the news. I’d rather watch the numbers scroll by…

.95    1.4    1.7

Good God.

Perhaps what I do in my job aides in my feeling the need to hurry. We own a transportation company so it is my job to make quick decisions and respond in a way that problem solves on the spot. I easily find myself getting into the habit of “On To The Next” where I continuously move from one person to the next, one circumstance to the next since there is seldom time to waste. Perhaps that too is an excuse and rushing through is just some bad habit that I need to seriously break. Either way, I am purposefully positioning myself to practice presence so I can fully BE in the moment, even if it is on the torturous treadmill with its slow rhythmic hum.

One thing that has become glaringly obvious to me over time is that when I HURRY, most of my mistakes are made when I do so. I react instead of taking the time to rightly respond. I make decisions that necessarily didn’t have to be made quite as quickly because I want a fix like 10 minutes ago. The sad reality is that HOW I’ve responded has created most of the issues I’ve encountered in life.

But here is the thing:

Most things, if given time, will work themselves out.

Most things, if given time, reveal what is best, needed and true.

If given time.

Hands off. Eyes off. This is sometimes best.

Walking away for a bit and creating space allows things to grow and dry. Space can aide in the cultivation of a soil that can reap a richer harvest, hosting stronger roots. Time surely can be a friend if eyes are taken off of what is the perceived issue and placed on what perhaps is the REAL one.

WHAT am I responding to?

WHY am I responding?

WHEN is the best time for me to respond?

WHO am I?

In the past, I’ve thought that the person in front of me or the issue at hand has been THE issue but it seldom has been. I have been. My response always reveals MY identity, WHO I am and really has little or nothing to do with anyone or anything else. It is my desire this year to intentionally think before I respond so I reveal my identity, which at the end of the day reveals HIS. Once I remember WHO I am, I rightly know who/what I’m responding to and if it needs addressed at that particular time or even at all. I’m tired of going around and jumping in quickly to put out every fire I see. I cannot hurry to fix it all by wearing some heroic badge on the scene of every accident, even if it is my job in real life. When I slow myself down and live out Proverbs 4:23 which says, “Above ALL else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it” I rightly respond and can trust my heart without regrets. When I take the time to KNOW and BE KNOWN and not hurry life by, I live fully by Faith, in Hope and am Love. Perhaps there is more all to it but I don’t think so.

So friends, pay attention but not too close. Outsides things tend to be a distraction from rightly guarding your inside territory and your heart is too valuable not to guard. Practice going slower and allowing your heart to be searched so that you know WHAT, WHY, WHEN and WHO you are responding to. Guarding is KEY. It takes INTENTIONALITY so you will have to lose your flippant attitude if you have one. Hurrying happens when you step down from your post and make decisions outside of your identity so stand firm. The world around you needs you to remain diligent.

On to the next will come soon enough but start what you finish…

And enjoy what you started.

 

 

 

 

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