I was kind of at a loss as to what to write about this week. Honestly, my mind has been kind of a blank lately. Today, I had Otto for the day so I had a lot of time to think while holding him - still blank. Believe me though, he is one of the sweetest distractions you could ask for. I just couldn’t focus on anything specific that has been running around in my mind. That's unusual for me.
I went back through my notes and was reminded that before Otto’s surgery and the blessing of our Levi’s arrival, I was talking about disciplines. I had started with the Disciplines of Freedom: Abstinence, Simplicity, and Stillness. I looked back at what I had written about each one and realized I had kind of thrown everything to the wayside when Otto’s surgery became imminent. So I dusted it back off and picked up where I'd left off.
I wrote about Abstinence from sugar in August and overall, I am still doing pretty well with that. Not going to lie, I’ve fallen a few times, but gotten right back on track.
How about Simplicity? I can be totally honest that I have been very intentional about keeping each day as simple as possible. For me, that means not taking on more than I can possibly accomplish in a day. I was very good at making a list each morning that got my blood pressure up before I had finished my first cup of coffee. I have this notepad I use almost daily now that has two columns and one side says things I MUST do and the other says things I COULD do. I keep the must side to a minimum and the could side is always full. If I find myself with extra time I wander over to the could side and choose something. My favorite one is “catch up on reading!” Oddly, I’ve never chosen “organize the junk drawer.”
The last discipline I wrote about was Stillness. The easiest discipline of all for me, which is surprising if you would have caught up with me a few years ago. That was never easy for me. I always surrounded myself with people and busyness so I wouldn’t have any reason to sit with myself. I avoided that at all costs. Now I love quiet. I love my morning time of meditation and stillness in his presence. I’m okay with being alone (most of the time.)
So that's a little synopsis of what I was writing about almost 6 weeks ago. There is one left in the Disciplines of Freedom and that is Forgiveness. The idea of these disciplines is that we are rewarded with freedom when we practice them. I took a deep breath and read the chapter on forgiveness.
My thought before I started reading, "This one will be easy, I honestly cannot think of one person I need to forgive for anything. If it asks if I need anyone to forgive me, I should be okay too. I did that whole make amends thing about a year after I got sober."
My thought after I finished reading the chapter, "Crap, this is not going to be as easy as I thought."
There was a lot of good stuff in this chapter. I encourage you to look up this little book full of good information. At the end of the chapter, there was a list of questions that you needed to ask yourself to see if you had some work to do in the forgiveness department. Of all the questions and thoughts raised in this section there was only one that made me second guess myself.
It said this, “You can’t tolerate being around people that offend or hurt you in the past even if it happened a long time ago.” That one made me pause, and cry, as a few people came to mind.
Had I really practiced forgiveness if the person(s) I was thinking about had hurt me and I made up my mind just to steer clear of them? How is that moving on? I decided to just stay away and protect myself from them ever hurting me again. Where is the freedom in that? How is that rewarding? It’s not. I guess I still have some work to do.
You see, these are people I have had to learn how to deal with being around. Sometimes you just don’t have a choice. Even if I was in their presence, I was shutting down and putting up a wall of protection around me so they couldn’t possibly hurt me anymore.
What if every time I was with them I just kept saying in my mind, "I forgive you for who you are, you are a child of God just like me. I don’t know why you are the way you are but that is not my fault." Kind of a running tape in my head that if played long enough, I might start to believe it. I do know it would not go over well for me to say any of this out loud to them. Are you kidding?! That would not work in my favor at all! Not being a coward here - I know it wouldn’t do any good.
If I don’t play that tape in my head and keep hitting rewind, I will have to walk away from every occasion I'm with them with someone else to forgive. That would be me. I don’t do that very well either: forgive myself. I can be my own worst critic and I can’t afford to let anyone else add to that voice. So what do I do?
You could always shout this scripture from Luke 23:24 at them:
Jesus said, “Forgive them, Father! They don’t know what they are doing.”
Maybe just mutter it under your breath.
Or to borrow from AA again and say to yourself, “Let go and let God handle it." I like to make it my own by adding “handle it” to that little blurb. In doing this, I quit ruminating over the latest encounter and move forward without beating myself up.
What you don’t get over will get all over you.
Have you ever heard this saying before? I have - and I've given it to many others when they express hurt and anger over someone who wronged them. These words are basically saying that by allowing that person's actions and words to fester inside, you will continue to simmer every day and eventually you will boil over. Burning yourself and others around you that have nothing to do with why you're so hot and bothered in the first place.
Try to do two things. Forgive them and give it to God. Most often it wouldn’t even make sense to go up to them and say the words, “I forgive you.” These kinds of people will look at you and say, "What the heck. I didn’t do anything to you.” You know this person, right? This is what I am dealing with too. So make it right in your heart and mind by turning it over to the one who knows all and is responsible for them. You are not. You need to do that and move on so they take up no room in your heart and mind.
That's why I love this verse. It is a command but when I read it I see it as simply a way to live:
You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you. - Colossians 3:12-13
I encourage you to give it a try. It might just be what you need to feel the peace you have been searching for. I know it is working for me.
Can’t resist one more AA saying I just thought of, “It works if you work it!”
Yeah, I know.
Peace on your weekend,