Monthly Archives: January 2015

Day 15 Be Present: Sore Jaws, Offering It Up, and Trusting

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Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a head ache, and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and lightness in your life.
-Joan Lunden

Isn’t that a nice little nutshell of wisdom? We forgive and then get on the road to “laughter and lightness”. But–If only she hadn’t done THAT, I could forgive her. If only it hadn’t meant THIS, I could forgive him. If only… oops. There I go again, thinking my situation is special, and nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody could understand it, and nobody would expect me to forgive if they REALLY knew what happened and how awful it really was.

Oh- do you feel that way, too? I thought it was just me that had unforgiveable people in my life. Huh…

The quote from Joan Lunden sounds so trite. It really can’t be that easy.

But it is easy. And yet, it is the work of our lives to trust often enough to forgive, and forgive again, and then forgive some more. So is the problem forgiving, or trusting?

The only way I know how to forgive is to hand the person and their deed up to God. I have to get very visual about it, and generally use these steps when the thought of them or their deeds occurs to me: 1) I see the person in my cupped hands, and lift them up to God, while on my knees. 2) Then I have to put them in my cupped hands and lift my hands up to God, and shove them up into clouds. 3) Then I have to put them in a quilt, and see God picking them up. 4) Then I wrap them really tightly in a quilt, and I throw them like a football up to God. 5) Then I lock them in a rocket launcher and light a fuse to launch them up to God. 6) Then I… you get the idea.

I have to do it over and over, lifting them, sending them, blasting them. Every time I think of them, hand them over.

Eventually, I get to a point where I can just say “I forgive you” in my mind when the thought of them or their offense comes to mind.

And I am finally getting free to lightness and laughter.

The nutshell of forgiveness is that it is all predicated on a trust that God is there, and she can and is handling that offensive person and me with more love, care, and wisdom than I could ever know.

Through countless hours of silence, solitude, soul searching, and prayer, I learned that the act of trust is an utterly ruthless act.
-Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust

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Day 14 Be Present: Habits, Trust, Surrender

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Day 14 Be Present: Habits, Trust, Surrender

A word on habits again- we are trying to find and keep inner peace amidst a very busy and often (usually?) unpeaceful world. It is hard work to stay peaceful inside with all of the outer world beeping and ringing and driving for attention. When we add our inner world (that voice that gives unsolicited commentary on unmet expectations and unmet goals) to the outer beeping world, the push and pull makes it difficult to finish a task.

“Should I answer the email flashing from my sister or feed the crying cat? The dryer is beeping at me, should I put more in, or unload the dishwasher? I need to pay that medical bill online, but there is a work report that hasn’t been read yet, and I could bill that time. Oh my God, the teenager is still out with my car on slippery roads and didn’t text that she arrived yet.”

Then add in the inner (voice? heart? or zombie monotony?) beeping of missing my aging parents this holiday, weird feeling that my out of town out of touch sister in law is upset with me, and how the Hell did it get to be 2015 already? I thought this graduation year for my teen was a loooooong ways away.

It makes it hard to walk a straight line. Sometimes, this monkey voice makes me loop around in my own house, or office (sometimes I even drive in circles, confused about what my errand priorities are). Anne Lamotte calls them drunken monkeys in our minds. I like that analogy- who needs to listen to a chimpanzee hopped up on vodka? Michael Singer says “If you watch carefully, it’s just trying to find a comfortable place to rest.” Ahhh, it is ok to rest, little voice.

We can only do one thing at a time.
We can only listen to one voice at a time.
We can only walk one direction at a time.
We can only focus on one habit at a time.

One.

We take one concept at a time. Eat this elephant one bite at a time.

This voyage to inner peace is a deep sea voyage- we just go down one step at a time: one step, one habit at a time. The rest has to be ok waiting.

So we take one big breath and choose one topic to deal with and find peace with. We surrender the others. Surrendering the unworked/handing it up to God/blessing it in place is equally as important as the work we do. As we take that one step deeper into the ocean, we let the other stuff wait.

Take it one wave at a time, sweet fishy.

Affirmation: Ahhhh, rest little voice. One wave at a time, sweet fishy.

Day 13 Be Present: Forgiveness and The Prisoner

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Day 13 Be Present: Forgiveness and The Prisoner

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

We can all be prisoners of our own anger, resentment, and stubborn resistance to forgiveness. Nobody knows how hard we have it. Nobody knows how difficult it is. Nobody is there in the middle of the night, when the fears, anger, resentment, and the anxiety are in bed with us. They wrap around us like strangling blankets, encasing us in the darkness. By morning, all we can do is get up and struggle to our day. “They did this to us. They made it awful. If only they hadn’t done_______, everything would be fine.”

Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.
-Lewis B. Swedes

What if we remember it differently? What if we forgive them, forgive ourselves, and what if we see ourselves (that prisoner), who really did a kick-ass job taking care of themselves and their loved ones in the face of difficulties. What if we change that memory into 1) letting the other person off the hook and 2) give ourselves some doses of awesome sauce?

What does that leave us with then?

Day 12 Be Present: Forgiveness and The Feast of Anger

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Day 12 Be Present: Forgiveness and The Feast of Anger

Forgiveness is a tough one. I have to work at it diligently. When I feel resentful, angry, slighted, invisible, disrespected, attacked, forgotten… I usually turn to anger, which feels good and energizing and powerful in the moment. I feel like I can stand up tall again; the world will see me and how important I am. They won’t do that awful thing, ever again!

I use anger to feel better about myself when I am hurt. And we all have lots of opportunities to hurt: snarky sarcastic teenagers, terrible drivers, forgetful parents, ex partners who forget their responsibilities (it turns out that even court-ordered child support can be blown off), demanding bosses who aren’t realistic, etc. When enough of these happen, and I am not taking care of myself (sleep, exercise, food, water)…

I sometimes stand up tall and get really angry, my blood really does get hotter, my head sometimes lifts off of my shoulders, my eyes actually bulge out sometimes, and my voice goes up an octave. I think I am the wolf. I am not present. I am not in my skin. I am not even in this stratosphere.

At first, I might mutter about 50 miles an hour and swirl around my house, cleaning, straightening, whatever helps me to feel more like a martyr. That really helps me get whipped up- housework. Then I let it rip- I rail, I (subconsciously) know the words to use that will sear the hottest deepest wounds. It all comes out. I am angry, disrespected, resentful, and nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. But I am powerful, so powerful in this anger! For about 15 minutes.

Then I feel terrrrrrrrrible.

“Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back- in many ways, it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.
-Frederick Beuchner, Wishful Thinking

How can we be present when we are busy feasting on ourselves? Eating out own hearts? We have to take care of our anger if we are to have inner peace. Those wounds will drive us to eat ourselves unless we deal with it in a healthy way- friends, counseling, physical exercise, journaling, find your way to drop the face of anger. Leave the wolf outside.

I am actually very weak and susceptible to anger. I have to use forgiveness and prayer. Lots of both.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Action Item: Journal this morning about the wolf. What does she feel? What does she do, and what makes her snarl the most? What can you do to take care of it?

Visualization: Tell that wolf that you love her, and will care for her. Listen to her, and then let her know it is ok for her to go lay down and rest. Then you go take care of her.