Friday, January 1, 2010

Red Hot Smoldering Unforgiveness

Last night I decided to light a fire in my fireplace. The fire was warm, inviting, and relaxing in this unusually cold Texas weather. As all of the wood was being consumed, the fire began to smolder; all that remained was the red-hot embers, white-hot embers, and the glow of the fire on the wood, but no flames. I gazed into the fireplace and noticed how intense, purposeful, and consistent the fire smoldered to consume all of the wood until only cool white ashes remained. I remember thinking that must be how unforgiveness smolders in our lives and our hearts consuming all of us (time, emotions, energy, attention, heart, and money) until only ashes remain. Ah…forgiveness…a great topic to begin a new year! Let’s talk!

If an accelerant (like gasoline) were added to the burning embers of a fire, the fire would likely reignite or at least blaze up quickly once again. Our unforgiveness acts much the same way. Someone says or does something that triggers (adds accelerant to) our unforgiveness, manifested through pain, grief, resentment, bitterness, hatred or, anger and we ignite. We act out in many ways when we hold on to past hurts and offenses. We might live our lives distant and angry, fearful, resentful and bitter, deciding to stop interacting or speaking to the person(s) who hurt us, or even plot revenge for their demise. None of these actions is beneficial to us. They only serve to fuel the red-hot smoldering, causing the embers to burn hotter, and causing our pain, hatred, bitterness, resentment…to intensify.

Forgiveness is not easy, but it is a required of us and necessary for us to live in peace (in our mind) and freedom. Forgiveness may not “feel” good at first, because forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. Some of us do not want to forgive, because we cannot imagine letting the person who hurt us off the hook or giving them a get out of jail free card. Forgiveness is not really about their freedom, it is ALL about our freedom.

Unforgiveness is the resentful, angry, hateful nurturing of our grievances – it is a harmful transgression against our own being. We hurt ourselves more than we hurt the person who we choose not to forgive. Release THEM and YOU will be set free. (You are probably asking, how does that work?)

Unforgiveness is a blessing blocker that binds us to the person(s) and the event(s) that caused us pain. We unconsciously relinquish control of our emotions, actions, and healing to the person or people who hurt us. They may not physically be in our lives, but emotionally we are trapped in the place where and the time when the offense took place. If we are going to move to forgiveness and live in peace and freedom, we have to acknowledge the pain, (yes, it happened) forgive the people involved, allow God to heal us, and DECIDE to move on.

Forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give yourself.

The red-hot smoldering of the fire in my fireplace eventually stopped. All that remained was cool white ashes that could be touched and handled to clean the fireplace. Once we forgive, all that remains is cool white ashes of the past, easily touched and handled, unable to hurt, burn, or hinder us any longer.

This time of year, people are making resolutions to lose weight, save money, quit a bad habit, or start exercising and eating right. All of those are great resolutions to make, by the way. Unfortunately, more people will fail at keeping those resolutions as early as the springtime then those who will be successful. (This is one reason I do not make resolutions. I seek God’s guidance, make plans, and set goals to change my life). New Year’s IS a time for new beginnings, a time to begin fresh and new, to wipe the slate clean, to start from scratch, to “do-over”, to start over (I know…enough with the clich├ęs already).

A more productive and fulfilling resolution is practicing forgiveness in our lives…leaving the past in the past and not allowing the past to control or dictate our future. Interestingly, change is constant in our present lives; but one thing that change cannot affect is the past. Nothing can change the past. We can change how we view the past and how we let the past affect our lives and we do have the power to change the future by letting go of the past.

As the New Year rings in, make a plan to forgive. Make forgiveness part of your life. As you practice forgiveness, you will learn to forgive in the moment. Yes, that means in the moment the offense occurs, you will have the power to forgive and move on with your life, refusing to be held hostage by the offense or the offender. Do not take anything with you into 2010 from 2009 (2008, 2003, 2000, 1990, 1986, 1970, 1967…you get the picture) that could contaminate your new year’s success, health, blessings, and prosperity.

Happy New Year friends!

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