Love

Forgiving (Yourself) is Living!

If you’re like me, you think a lot about forgiveness and you work hard to forgive other people for their perceived wrongs. 

I say “perceived” because when I get all resentful and righteously angry over somebody doing me wrong, I forget that the somebody in question is doing the best he or she can do in the particular moment that the great injustice toward me occurred.  And even if the offender is not offering me her best, who am I to judge?  I’m not skipping around in her shoes.  For all I know, there could be a sharp-edged rock lodged in her Size 9s that is causing her general pissiness.

Forgiveness is everything to me as a sober woman and as a godly woman.  It is one of the greatest gifts I give myself and also one of my biggest challenges.  If only I could more regularly practice the affirmative statement in today’s Daily Word

I forgive from my heart and enrich all my relationships.

But my heart has been crushed too many times . . . so it can be easier to stay angry instead of letting go of the resentment and loving instead.  In my 12-step work, we say, “hate the disease, love the alcoholic.”  Can we not transform that statement into “dislike (I REALLY dislike the word “hate”) the behavior, love the person anyway.”?

Even writing that last sentence makes my left eye twitch.  There is a person in my life right now that I really don’t want to love.  Today the best I can do is bless her when I think of her and ask God to help me with the forgiveness thing.

God knows I need help.

If only I could flip a switch and make the entire ugly mess disappear.  No can do, though, but I can say a prayer.

In fact, I can say (with as little or as much feeling as I want) the world’s shortest prayer of surrender:

Okay, God, whatever. 

The Surrender prayer helps me eliminate my biggest threat to forgiveness:  myself.

Forgiving myself for my behavior is the worst.  I have to stop second-guessing, beating myself up and in general mistreating myself when I harness the Resenting Me horse.  I have to stop allowing harsh words that describe me come out of my mouth.  I have to eliminate “o-u” words from my vocabulary–words like “should, would, could” and “ought.”

The biggest piece that I have to stop?  I have to stop allowing myself to believe that there is nothing I can do because there is.

I can make a decision and then take action.

The six-step action looks like this:

  1. Surrender (with the world’s shortest prayer or any other you choose).
  2. Pray the second coolest prayer I know, “Please show me (fill in the blank).”
  3. Become willing to receive direction (or maybe action step 2.5 is to become willing to be willing).
  4. Forgive myself or another.
  5. Say a final prayer of thanks (hard to remember to do when my arm is pulled from its socket trying to pat myself on the back for a job well done).
  6. Celebrate!

Oh yes, I’m a huge proponent of celebrating these not-so-tiny victories.  Why go to the trouble of improving ourselves if we can’t dance a little jig afterwards?

Are you dancing or simply dreaming of forgiving someone or some event?  It matters not to me because I have my own messes to clean up.  But I do hope you’ll consider putting the six-step process in place the next time you find yourself resenting and/or intensely disliking someone in your life. 

They’re there for a reason.  What if that reason were simply to teach you forgiveness?

Hmmmmmm . . . as always, let me know your thoughts and opinions.

 

Independence: So Much More Than a Day

Fireworks will ignite across America today as celebratory symbols of freedom.

Flags will fly, hot dogs will grill, parks and pools will overflow with folks grateful for a Monday off work.

I’m a gal from Independence, MO so I’ve always been proud of my connection to independence as a word.  In my 20 years of sobriety, I’ve learned to use independence and the word freedom in tandem.

Freedom from addiction:  now that is something to celebrate, as is independence from the mental twists and turns that led me to the disease of addiction.  And the coolest part of being free and independent of active addiction to substances?

I’m grateful that I used them in the first place.  Every time I abused my body, mind and spirit with alcohol or came out of a blackout or suffered through the world’s worst hangover, I traveled closer to this day.

This magnificent, awe-inspiring, God-filled Independence Day is the day of freedom I so longed for when I was drinking.  Little did I know that I had to consume every drink and had to wrap my arms around each porcelian bowl in order to arrive here.

God, what a place this is today, what a peaceful, yet thrilling place of grace.  Thank you not only for the grand gift of sobriety, but for the laser-sharp awareness of what it took to get to this day of independence.

Please share your thoughts of the glory of independence on this Mindful Monday.  Love to all!

 

Introducing: Mindful Monday

I’m pretty excited to offer, beginning today, a weekly Mindful Monday blog post for my BHT readers.

MM is an inspirational writing and photo to help you open a channel for love, peace and joy to flow throughout your week.  I know you usually have a ton of stuff to do on Monday mornings, but please take a moment to ground yourself.  I promise Mindful Monday will be a short read so think of it as setting the tone for your week.  Let me know what you think and . . . Enjoy! (note: this was scheduled to depart my cloud early Monday morning, but thanks to operator error, is leaving mid-day–room for improvement is always good!)

I’m still thinking about the principle of Intention. Regular readers will recall that Intention is one of my power words for 2011. (see my January 11 post: http://www.bheretoday.com/2011/01/11/while-most-peoples-resolutions-wane-three-words-live/)

It occurs to me that setting a deliberate spiritual intention accomplishes little if not followed by a belief that a path will be provided.  In fact, the path offers the perfect melding of Intention with my other two words for 2011:  Source and Order.

Source is the way of orderly direction, or “demonstration,” to use an old-fashioned term.  A demonstration cannot not work so long as the focus stays squarely on the intention.

What we think about we bring about, or as within, so without.The Rev. Ed Townley, who writes Spirit Expressing  (http://www.spiritexpressing.org/), says he thanks God and acknowledges the joyful good in his life.  The critical follow-up step, however, is to allow the good to express, and to believe it is good.

Are you demonstrating your good today and do you believe it IS good?

Baseball and Joplin

You can thank the 1985 World Series, known as the I-70 Series, for this post.

Baseball aficionados will remember that the Kansas City Royals bested the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh and final game of the match-up.  For those unfamiliar with God’s game, having two teams from the same state play each other for the penultimate title in major league baseball is hysterically cool. 

For anyone unfamiliar with Missouri geography, a ribbon of interstate connects the two cities from west to east with roughly 200 miles in between.  It’s a sibling rivalry made more contentious because these two metropolitan areas are decidedly different in just about every way. 

Anyway, I went to Game Six that year, and watched as the World Series win not only cemented the Royals as the best team for that year, but also saw the birth of the annual mid-June tradition of recreating the I-70 Series during interleague play.

This year’s heated battle is more special than usual.  

You see, both ball clubs, along with Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are united for a cause bigger than baseball:  helping in relief efforts for the victims and survivors of the May 22 EF5 (the deadliest) tornado that slammed through Joplin, MO.

The EF5 tornado numbers for this southwestern Missouri city of less than 43,000 are staggering:

  • 200 MPH winds, difficult to survive without the protection of an underground basement.
  • 6,953 homes and 800 businesses were completely destroyed.
  • 6 schools were destroyed – 2 High Schools, 2 Middle Schools and 2 Elementary Schools.
  • 141 people were killed; 1,300 were injured; 750 hospitalized; and 500 in shelters.
  • The estimated cost to rebuild Joplin is $1.9-$3 billion.

The Joplin tornado is considered to be the most deadly in modern record-keeping dating back to 1950 by the National Weather Service.

It is second only in the service’s records of an 1840 tornado in Natchez, Miss., when 317 people died on May 6. 

Dire health-related conditions

Now there are reports surfacing of additional deaths as tornado victims succumb to a nasty fungus called Zygomycosis which develops when soil or vegetative material becomes embedded under the skin.

“This fungus invades the underlying tissue and actually invades the underlying blood vessels and cuts off the circulation to the skin,” Dr. Uwe Schmidt, an infectious disease specialist at Freeman Health System in Joplin, told the Huffington Post.

So, please, keep praying for the good folks of Joplin, as well as for the hundreds of clean-up workers.

So much more than baseball

More than my love for baseball is love for my home state of Missouri.  I lived there 48 years of my life and there are two very special people living in Joplin who have not only been a part of my life for 44 of those 48 years, they played a significant role in my getting sober 20 years ago.

To say I love them is a grand understatement, as is saying I’m intensely relieved that they are, at least physically and materially, unharmed.  I can’t begin to imagine the everlasting damage to their psyches, however.

In the passing of our days, when we find ourselves taking what is right in front of us for granted, please pause, really look, really feel a connection with what you’re doing and with where you are because when we forget to be where we are today, we may just feel a sense of regret should it be quickly be ripped from us.

If a Teacher Appears, Will the Student Be Ready?

If we’re honest, the answer to the headline question is, “Yes. Uh, no. Well, I don’t know, maybe.”

How can we know when a teacher will appear?  I’m learning that teachers pop up all around me every day.  I tend to know I’m ready by the response I give to teachable moments like these:

  • You head out the door–late–to a job interview or an important meeting.  The car batter is dead.
  • You travel out of town for business only to discover when you arrive at your hotel that you forgot the shoes that go with your suit.
  • The dog whizzes on the carpet right before company arrives.
  • You have all the fixings for a favorite cake recipe and realize you’re out of eggs.

How long did it take you to realize that a teacher had appeared and you weren’t ready?

Can you relate to any or even all of these examples?  The list could go on forever but there is a common theme:  How do you respond?

Do you tend to think “why are all these crappy things happening to me?”

Do you search the heavens looking for ways to figure out how to fix the circumstance?

Do you sit around squawking about how you’ve been wronged?

I used to to a lot of all three, and truth be known, still do from time to time.  But I’ve found a much easier to deal with life on life’s terms.

I slow down.  I appreciate.  I notice.  I contemplate how good my life is.

Let me tell you a true story, about my friend Shannon.

Shannon is a single mom to three adorable children.  She’s an elementary school teacher, and one of the most loving and giving souls you would ever meet. 

Shannon is in her mid-forties.  Right before Christmas last year, after more than a year of steadily increasing back pain and having a hysterectomy, gall bladder removed and an abnormal mammogram.  After many, many tests and many, many doctors, she was diagnosed with metastasis to her thoracic vertebrae.

With the untold friends, her entire family (mom and dad, sister and brother plus their families), Shannon was ready.  She stood tall in front of perhaps one of the greatest teachers we humans can face:  cancer.

Shannon is slowly, but steadily recovering from a stem cell transplant and her prognosis is good.  She wrote in her most recent post from the CaringBridge.org journal site “Just tucked the kids in for the first time in nearly 50 days.”  Can you imagine?  She was quarantined from her children for nearly two months.

My God, what an incredible display of readiness. 

Obviously we know which story we would like to emulate. 

While Shannon’s is far more complicated that the fictional story, and in the range of life occurrences, one of the most glaringly difficult to stand to, in many ways it is just as difficult to face the teacher’s lessons contained within the fictional story.  

Life’s big deals force us to slow down and deal.  But the day-to-day alterations to our routines that create speed bumps in our 24-hour racetrack? How do we stand to those?

We’d like to think we’re spiritually fit enough to be ready when the massive occurs but what about the minimal?  Trust me, it can take you out just as quickly if you’re not spiritually ready.

I invite you to spend tomorrow and the next day and the rest of June observing how you, the student responds when teachers–great and small–appear.  Try not to judge your responses, but use them as exercises in preparedness.

Are you up for the challenge? Send me an email to bheretoday.bethw@gmail.com and let me know how you do. 

In honor of National Cancer Survivors Day, here’s my friend Shannon.  Let’s continue to pray for cures, and the will to STAND.  Shannon, you’re an inspiration and my hero. May God continue to bless you.