Archive for February 2011

Notes from Along the Road – Hope   Leave a comment

Hope is the flame of a candle flickering in the night, leading us through the obstacles on our way to the next opportunity for growth.

Posted February 24, 2011 by Hope in Recovery in Hope, Notes from Along the Road

Notes from Along the Road- Life is too Short   Leave a comment

Life’s too short…

Life’s too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so…

Love the people who treat you right.

Forget about the ones who don’t.

Believe that everything happens for a reason.

If you get a chance, TAKE IT!

If it changed your life, LET IT!

Nobody said it would be easy…

Just that it would be worth it!

Posted February 24, 2011 by Hope in Recovery in Notes from Along the Road

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Forgiveness Part 3b   Leave a comment

As I begin this post, I start thinking about this very simple yet paradoxically complicated word. There are so many implications. This word affects us in all relationships areas of our lives:  with God, with friends, with significant others and within ourselves. Each of these is intertwined delicately with each of the others. All of us have needed to forgive and be forgiven at some point in our lives. I believe that being able to forgive and willing to seek forgiveness are attributes that must be developed and honed in order for any individual to truly live a fulfilling and successful life. We have covered two of these three entirely and one side of the other thus far. With that said here is Part 4 (or 3b), applying forgiveness in our relationships with others by accepting it when it is offered.Forgiveness in our Relationship With Others – Accepting

As noted I the previously, the concept of forgiveness in our relationships with others is a two-edged sword and as mentioned in our earlier discussion of forgiveness, is dependent and entangled with both of the others as well. As we have begun to discuss, forgiveness in our relationships with others entails two separate yet delicately intertwined actions:

  • Being willing and able to grant forgiveness to those whom have hurt, disappointed or otherwise offended us.(See Forgiveness 3a)
  • Being willing and able to receive forgiveness from others whom we have hurt, disappointed or otherwise offended.

Some of us struggle with one or the other of these two, but unfortunately, most of us struggle with both.  They are each necessary for us to be healthy and whole; but at the same time they are very difficult. Neither is more important or needed than the other.

So, let’s take a look at this final component of forgiveness – Being willing and able to receive forgiveness from others whom we have hurt, disappointed or otherwise offended.

Receiving forgiveness from others has two very distinct elements:

  •  Being able/willing to seek forgiveness when we are conscious of either intentionally or unintentionally offending another.
  •  Second, is accepting forgiveness when it is offered by another rather freely or sought after.

It takes a lot of courage to admit when we have made mistakes and to sincerely seek to make amends.  Many of us have said, “I’m sorry” so many times with no intent to actually change our behaviors, and continued in this pattern for so long that we have invalidated the great impact and power which those simple words could have in our relationships with others. Those closest to us have learned that when we say “I’m sorry”, our words are empty. Thus, our insincere apologies fall to the floor unreceived, because they have no faith in our actual willingness or attempt to change.  I am reminded of a quote I believe that most if not all of us are familiar.

“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”   Mark Twain

Yes we need to seek forgiveness with our words and confess them before God and man, more importantly is that we are sincere and follow up our words with corresponding and appropriate actions.  Consider the following scripture reference:

“Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation.” Proverbs 14:9 

Another translation uses the word “wise” in place of “godly”.  Thus seeking reconciliation and forgiveness can be considered not only the “right” thing to do, but also the “smart” one.

Admitting our guilt and mistakes to ourselves is part one, then we take the next step and acknowledge them to the ones that we have wronged.  I will let them speak for themselves, but take a look at the “heart” of the 12 steps of AA:

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact   nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make          amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

What do we see… FORGIVENESS and reconciliation in our relationships with                     God and man.

In conclusion, one final Biblical reference:

 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may   be healed.”  James 5:16

Confess… I will restrain myself, but could go on and on just looking at that one word.

Confess your faults… pray for one another… so that you may be healed.  In this one verse we the summary of forgiveness as it relates to our relationships with others.

  • Confess your faults:  Seek forgiveness when needed
  • Pray for one another: Grant or Receive forgiveness as needed.
  •  So that you may be healed: Reconcile and let go of the hurts of the present and past and let time do its healing work.

So much of our ongoing suffering is easily resolved when we stop looking back and “reliving” our past hurts and disappointments, whether they are our own doing or someone else’s.

Finding a way to practice forgiveness is not an optional component of our recovery, it MUST be a skill that we develop and use on a daily basis. We must face each day and situation granting, seeking and receiving forgiveness, because if we do not do so we will not truly live. We will survive from day to day the slave of our anger and unable to experience life and love to its fullest. Finally my friends I remind you one last time:

Forgiveness Part 3a   4 comments

Some of us struggle with one or the other of these two, but unfortunately, most of us struggle with both.  They are each necessary for us to be healthy and whole; but at the same time they are very difficult. Neither is more important or needed than the other.

Let’s look first at first at forgiving others, and then we will turn our focus to accepting it.

There is no greater barrier to having healthy, happy, caring relationships than unresolved unforgiveness.  We can harbor these feelings for the slightest of offense to the most heinous abuse. I will admit to you and to myself, I have been as guilty as anyone of this in the past, and have to continue battle with the very same challenge.

I have been blessed that the hurts and offenses that I have experienced are no where near as traumatic and scarring as those that many of you have been subjected to. I understand and agree that there are some behaviors, physical abuse, rape, child molestation, neglect, etc which do not deserve to be forgiven. It is this harbored unforgiveness that which over time becomes resentment, and resentment becomes hatred.

When resentment and hatred have taken hold, then we become their prisoners. They no longer only control our feelings and reactions regarding the person/situation that were at the root, but they affect us in all areas of our lives and all of our other relationships. It has been my personal experience that individuals like this have significant difficulty in maintaining relationships, and the relationships that survive are typically strained. Why? They are strained because all of those unresolved emotions rest just below the surface and rather than a small offense or hurt being just that, the old “stuff” is stirred up and we often overreact with displaced anger and often with rage towards the unfortunate people may be in out vicinity. The saddest part of all is that when we are at this stage we often react in anger to situations in which we perceive as an offense and in reality, no harm has been done. I am sure, this concept is not new to many of you, as you read these words you find yourself, nodding in agreement and saying to yourself, “That’s me”, or “I do/have done that.” So now you’re asking, “If this is true and these emotions when left unresolved are this powerful, “How do I break this chain? What I do now to change and fix this problem.  The easy, to say, but hard to follow-through answer is “FORGIVE”. I reiterate, some of those that perpetrated evil acts against us, do not deserve forgiveness. However, I remind you of my statement made in the most previous article in this series:

 Forgiveness is NOT based on being worthy or deserving of it.

Forgiveness is an act of grace and mercy.

Ultimately it is an act of LOVE!

 We do not forgive for the sake of the other person. Many will not be affected by my choice to grant them forgiveness or not. They live their lives, often not even knowing that the have offended or hurt us, or at least to the extent that they have done so. We forgive, because it sets us free. Let me illustrate with a few quick quotes:

         He who angers you conquers you. – Elizabeth Kenny

        The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less.  ~Eldridge Cleaver

 Hate cages all the good things about you.  ~Terri Guillemets

Hating people is like burning down your own house to get rid of a rat.   ~Henry Emerson Fosdick

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.  ~ Lewis B. Smedes

I really like all of these and they do a very good job expressing my point. Our willingness and ability to forgive others is about our inner healing FIRST and then about “making amends” in our relationships with others.  I one to point you back to the first and last quotes: ”He who angers you conquers you.” And “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” When we learn to forgive and let go of our hurt, offenses and anger, we realize that we are not letting the other person go free, they already were, we are freeing ourselves from the inside out. We are reclaiming the control that I have given away. I know that is MUCH easier said than done, but start practicing with little things day to day. As forgiveness becomes easier, facing the bigger and more painful hurts will not be as difficult to let go off. It WILL take time and work, but hang in there you will overcome. NEVER FORGET you have someone at your side that knows a LITTLE about forgiveness, Jesus.

On the other hand, as we will see in the next and hopefully final chapter of this series, our ability and/or willingness to accept forgiveness is a whole other issue, entirely.

 BE FREE – FORGIVE

Forgiveness – Image   Leave a comment

Posted February 8, 2011 by Hope in Recovery in Uncategorized

Notes from Along the Road – Occupied Mind   1 comment

I was talking to a fellow traveler recently about how important and healthy it is to stay busy. It was then that I came up with this thought.
I look forward to your feedback and comments.

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