Monthly Archives: August 2011

Forgiving Yourself

We hear much about forgiving others, and we should. Forgiveness is showing kindness and compassion to others, but it does more for those who forgive than those who need to be forgiven. One person we usually forget to forgive is ourselves.

It is natural to be harder on ourselves than others. We feel that we have to earn forgiveness or that we must pay, so we continue to punish ourselves. Sometimes, we continue to punish ourselves even after we ask God for forgiveness. God is always willing to forgive us. It is our refusal to accept this “gift” from Him that does not allow us to forgive ourselves.

Think about your situation and how it would sound coming from someone else. How would you advise them? More than likely, you would tell that person not to be so hard on themselves. That we all make mistakes and we all can be forgiven. This would be very good advice and is good enough to hear for yourself.

Forgiveness has been recognized by the medical community to have health benefits. The benefits are not just spiritual. The Mayo Clinic reports that forgiveness can lead to: lower blood pressure, less stress, less hostility, fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, healthier relationships, and greater psychological well-being.

So, do not let your unforgiveness of yourself prevent you from accepting the blessings and gifts that God offers you each and every day. Continue to forgive others but remember to forgive yourself. Forgiveness is the essential element that frees you from your own private prison. Allow yourself the freedom to forgive yourself, accept God’s forgiveness and to take action, if at all possible, to repair the harm. It is not often possible to make amends. You cannot go back in time or erase words that were said. You cannot make amends for those who are no longer with us. Ask God for forgiveness, accept it and move on. None of us is perfect and we never will be. We can only try our best.

If you are harboring any unforgiveness in yourself or others, I hope that you will find the freedom that awaits you, as well as all the benefits that come with it by learning to forgive.

Thankful IN All Circumstances

As I recuperate from a medical issue, I have had time to pray and meditate. When we are suffering, we pray for relief, of course. It would not be unusual to ask “why” are we suffering. Why God allows suffering has been a question asked for ages. I believe some is for the glory of God, some is from man’s own actions to himself or others (the exercise of our free will), some from our fallen state (another exercise of free will by others) and some the mechanics of nature.

In Paul’s letter to the Church at Thessalonica, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV, he writes, “ Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.”   We are to continually appreciate what we have and be content with the love and blessings from God and those around us — that is how we can be joyful. We are to continually be in communication with God. When we pray, we are talking to God and if we are open to it, we hear from God. Even though God knows us, we are still to acknowledge that He is in our lives and that we depend upon Him.

Notice in the final part of the quote, Paul says “give thanks IN all circumstances.” He did not say “give thanks FOR all circumstances.”  There are and will be circumstances that we certainly might not be thankful for, but there are often parts of the circumstances that we can be thankful for. Although I am suffering, I am thankful: to be alive and recuperating; to have time to look inwardly; realize and accept the love, care and best wishes of those connected to me in various ways; and the chance to pray for improvement.

Paul also encourages us further in the same letter, 1 Thessalonians 5:21 NIV, to “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” Life is not always easy. Everyone has trials, even those that seem to be “have it all.” Trials are vast and different, effecting each of us differently. What might not seem like a trial for some can be truly difficult for another. Our trials build character, teach lessons and offer us opportunities to prove to ourselves and others that we are strong enough to get through them, especially when we have hope and lean on God. Usually, one good thing from trials is providing us with the wisdom and experience to help others when they are facing similar circumstances.

I hope that you are well and safe. I hope that you find joy this day and all that follow. Take care.

Ouch! My leg!

A week ago, I noticed some pain in the back of my left knee and then very soon in the calf of my left leg. I had been busy working in the warehouse and thought I had just strained or pulled a muscle. The discomfort increased each day until I asked my director, on Friday, for permission to see a doctor as I was concerned that I was doing further injury to myself.

I was sent to the company doctor. Although I had convinced myself that I had suffered a muscular injury, I was surprised when the doctor told me that I had a blood clot. My primary care provider was called and it was decided that I should go immediately to the hospital emergency room. The hospital performed an ultrasound to determine whether my blood clot as close to the surface (superficial thrombophlebitis) or deep in my tissue. Fortunately for me, my blood clot was near the surface, although very painful, not life threatening.

I have read warnings before concerning deep vein thrombosis (DVT) during long airline flights, but had not given it much thought during this episode. However, if you have leg pain accompanied by swelling and redness, do not hesitate to have it checked out. Hopefully, you will not have DVT because this condition can release a blood clot into your system where it may interfere with lung and heart function.

I am receiving treatment and following doctor’s orders to rest and elevate my leg. I guess that I means I will be around to write more articles. I want to thank all the medical people who cared for me as well as all those who sent me wishes of a speedy recovery.  Many thanks go to Theresa and Brandon for giving me much comfort and aid while I recuperate.

Allowing Joy

Although we can be trapped by negativity in our lives, we must allow joy into our lives and allow the elements of joy we already have to be recognized. Two interesting quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh, are “The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don’t wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy.”  The other quote is, “Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”  Although those quotes are from a Buddhist monk, Isaiah expressed similar ideas in Isaiah 40:29-31, where hope in the Lord renews strength.

In our busy, busy world where we are always on the run, it is important that we take some time to reflect on what we have, where we are, where we came from and how we got here. There is always something to be thankful for. The “attitude of gratitude” practiced every day will allow joy, not only into your own life, but into the life of those around you.

Things that invite joy into our lives can be simple: a smile, a kind word, a small courtesy. Think about the positive things in your life. Consider the positive attributes about yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others – each of us is unique with our own talents and challenges. Think about those less fortunate than yourself and how you might be able to lift them up. This will allow you to appreciate your own blessings and share those blessings with others.

Joy can be an elusive condition. Like contentment, joy must be practiced and learned. This is available to you and to me. Joy and contentment are available to everyone. Take care and smile. Smiles are infectious; infect someone today.