Tag Archives: choice

What is Forgiveness?

I hadn’t planned to write on forgiveness, but it pushed to the front. I’ve heard again and again that unless you forgive, you can’t be happy or successful at life.

So what is forgiveness? Saying what they did is alright? That is silly, if you hate what they did. And if feels wrong if you were crippled by it.

I hear and read many places: “You must forgive yourself.” I believe it. I say it myself. But what is it?

I believe there are some things that precede forgiveness: acceptance of brokenness, acceptance of love, believing in hope and that I am lovable.

In order to forgive, you have to believe that you can do great wrong, that you can hurt people–that you are capable of evil. You also have to believe that you are of great value, that you are loved and capable of loving others. The first is difficult if you grew up thinking you were the center of the universe, and never had it corrected. That last one is difficult for many of us, especially if we didn’t feel it. We are feeling people who can think. And we have to be able to do both mindfully. We try to be thinking people who can feel, but we are mainly run by emotion. (When you’re tired or threatened, emotion takes over. Even when you want to do something different, feelings will often sabotage and take you back to what is comfortable.)

Forgiveness matters because we crave loving and being loved. If we accept the above as reasonable, then we have to acknowledge that there is a God of love, or none of this would make any sense. Without God there would be no reason to love or forgive, except survival–and that, too, is God; without Him emotion would destroy us; so we come to the most basic belief underneath forgiveness.  We were made pure, good, loved and capable of loving; and became broken–capable of evil, attracted to evil,  often ignorantly. Emotions have become so twisted here that what feels good many times is destructive.

Are you following? Most of the important things in life are backwards, or feel backwards because we were made to run on love, but we don’t here.

So then what is forgiveness? I have thought about this for 10 years, and studied it longer. What actually is forgiveness? First you have to admit evil and wrong: Oswald Chambers says, “The recognition of sin does not destroy the basis of friendship; it establishes mutual regard for the fact that the basis of life is tragic.”

It is now, but it wasn’t always so. In our beginning we were all good, made for love and joy. That means we have to accept sin. What in the world is that? I see it as brokenness, but it is more accurately that which broke us–high-handed mutiny against God and love–that which separated us from God and gave us two conflicting natures. It was high-handed because there was no reason for it. It came because they could. They were free to rebel. It happened before us.

So then forgiveness makes possible the reconciliation that fixes the separation–the tragedy. But it is not reconciliation. You can forgive without reconciling. And that comes from the God-part of us. It can’t be otherwise. Reconciliation is the idea that people are worth living with, worth loving, capable of choice and change. But forgiveness comes before.

Forgiving is primarily for us–it frees us from carrying hurt and anger. It is the attitude that makes it possible for us to keep giving even when we have been hurt or when we have done the damage. We give ourselves another chance to get it. We believe we aren’t hopeless.

At the most basic level forgiveness is belief that love is real and freedom exists–that I can make choices and change, and so can you, that love is a power in the universe and we call it God. There is a being, a Trinity of beings, who is pure love who wants to live with us and bring us back to wholeness, but who will let us choose in freedom.

Love is not just an emotion. It is power. Pure stable energy that is so strong unstable energy can’t exist in it’s presence. The first five books of the Bible, and maybe all of them, are about God trying different ways of dealing with the problem of being with us because His presence would consume us.

Forgiving is the easiest thing God does. Reconciliation is a process requiring a want-to on both sides. But forgiveness most simply stated is for giving love to ourselves and others just because we can. Forgiveness may be separating in love (as God had to) or it may be coming together in love, but it is fueled by love and supported by choice. I can let go or take you back believing in the change love can make. I can come back to Love.

 

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Sweet Cinema Therapy

If you haven’t seen “Hacksaw Ridge,” go see it. And after that, see if you can find “The Prizewinner of Defiance Ohio” starring Marianne Moore. We happened upon it on TV, and it was fabulous in a different way than Hacksaw, but the attitude of courage, purpose and humor that carries the main character is the same. Inspiring.
This is also a true story, this time a woman’s. And it may be as rough to watch as the carnage of war if you had an alcoholic father, but the spirit of the mother makes it all worth it. Besides, Marianne Moore does a great job. There are a couple of conversations she has with her daughter (the one who wrote it, I think) that are worth the time investment. And her mother reminded me somewhat of mine–that indomitable spirit–the aspiring writer–lots of kids.

I love movies. But I hate them, too. I love inspiring ones–especially when they are well done–so you can watch them over and over and get inspired again.  “Shadowlands” is one of those. “Bagger Vance” is another. But I  hate them because it is such a powerful tool for garbage that influences.

I don’t think it is any surprise that society is getting more violent, when TV and movies are filled with violence. I had a client years ago who was addicted to violence–he was under 25,  and he educated me. At that time I hadn’t heard of that addiction; but he was very clear.

Is anyone else concerned about us becoming a watching society? Living vicariously instead of our own lives. Getting more disconnected from others.

Today we have a problem with our young getting radicalized, and it happens fast. It’s scary. But is it any surprise? We are marketing violence. We are consuming it as entertainment! Becoming desensitized. It’s often shown as the solution–as strength even.

Are you familiar with the term imprinting? It’s a word in my field that describes the indelible effect left on human and animal species immediately after birth: faces, forms, voices, even smells. And it happens to a lesser effect throughout life. A scripture speaks of it as well, “By beholding we become changed.”

It’s one of those things that has to be controlled from inside by choice. It isn’t easy. Especially if you have developed a taste for violence or vicarious evil. It is so insidious, and it hooks us so fast. One client told me that one porno movie was all it took and he was hooked!

Choice is becoming more and more critical. Don’t make life hard for yourself–make good choices.

 

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Black Friday

I was a little down Friday–probably the result of too much food over too much time and too many chemicals. Not the first time I’ve witnessed the  effect of food on the mind. My husband went biking–I’m so glad he still likes that at 74! He didn’t feel good either, and said it was really hard to get going, but just after deciding he should quit, he started feeling better and kept going.

I wonder if that is how everyone feels after Thanksgiving Day? Maybe we need some new traditions. Maybe that is why retailers have seized on the concept of Black Friday. Get them while their in a food fog and they will spend more money. And it gives them something to look forward to and gets them moving.

Yes, that’s my humor, but it was another good reminder that what you put in makes a big difference in how you think and feel. “Black Friday” seemed appropriate. You might have guessed I’m not a shopper; and doing it with mobs of people doesn’t appeal.

But I had no motivation for anything. That is rare for me. So I thought I’ll do the things I usually love doing and I’ll pull out of it. I don’t love exercising, but I know it makes me feel better, so I did my 30 minute workout. Didn’t help. I didn’t think I was sharp enough to write, so I sat in the sun in my gazebo for a while and read a book my husband wanted me to read. That helped–the sun always helps.

Then I walked around my yard and got caught up in a project that had been calling me but I hadn’t had time for. That took about an hour and it helped. But I realized I wasn’t choosing to get out of my funk. Under the surface I was feeling a little sorry for myself that I was so far away from family.

While I was exercising I had talked to my daughter who was busy and had just said good-by to her company, and then to my sister who was going shopping with her daughter. It’s their tradition. I think I got jealous. I’m a person who does well with solitude, but sometimes you just need people! We’d had a great time with friends the night before, maybe that heightened it. Put that with my physical state and I felt depressed.

Realizing it put me in touch with choice. I commended myself for choosing not to eat that day and started making some other good choices, and by that evening felt good enough to invite my friend for dinner. (Earlier I hadn’t even wanted to be around people.)

The point is I started making good choices, and my body cooperated, and I was able to start choosing to think better. I was reminded (by God I’m sure) about the wonderful news from a client I heard two days before, and then also the wonderful news from my friend who’s valiantly fighting cancer–yesterday was her birthday–and I began giving thanks.

I still wasn’t normal the next day, but on a nudge from Spirit, I invited some people I had only briefly met for lunch, and it ended up being just what we needed: a lot of laughter and some new friends.

I’m always amazed at the power in choice and thanks to turn a body and a mind around.

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Perspective vs. Perception

 

 

Perspective speaks of your vantage point. Where are you in relationship to what you are seeing? Perception is how you understand what you see. How does your mind interpret it?

Yes, perspective does largely determine perception–the view of an ant is very different from the view of an astronaut, so are their brains. Processing is different in everyone. Programming plays a huge part in how we see. And choice has even more influence. If we go on automatic pilot, now known as mindlessness, we are victims of our past and our programming. That is why Jesus often said, “Be careful how you see.”

That caution involves: Will you input positive or negative slants? Will you see this information from a good perspective or an evil one?  Will you be overcome by an abundance of negativity residing in your brain? We all have it–some more than others, but we have been given the gift of choice. We can choose how we see–how we interpret a comment or an event. That doesn’t mean we  turn into Pollyanna, but most of us don’t struggle with being too positive.

We tend to have negative filters. And God’s view of a thing is always to see what good can come from it. He is very clear that not everything is good, and to pretend “It’s all good” is not true or helpful. But God is amazingly creative and neverPlaybook Cover Kindle RGB 03 stymied–never surprised. We would benefit from asking, “How should I look at this? How can I turn this into a positive? What do you want me to learn from this?”

I think He loves to answer these kind of questions. If you are tuned into hearing, you may hear Him in your head, or you may just begin to see it differently, or you may immediately have  different thoughts about the thing in question.

I talk a lot about false beliefs we have, because they are so influential. They are part of mindlessness, our unexplored inner terrain. We act them out. They are great determiners of our mood and quality of life. Getting free of them is part of the abundant life Jesus came to give. But if we never look at the crazy things we walk around with, never question them, or even ask God to show us what they are, we are at their mercy. That is programming.

My book on Jacob’s life (Genesis–part 2) is coming out Monday–the third Love’s Playbook. This one is The Perception of Failure. Jacob never really could get over that one big mistake, and he always felt he was paying for it. Even though God appeared to him with assurance. He was grateful, but he could never quite get his head and heart over it. And the dark side clearly took advantage of it. He had a lot of bad things happen to him! But he knew where to go for comfort, perspective, and perception. It is an inspiring story of God’s presence and faithfulness, even through pain. This link should work by Saturday night for the kindle version. http://amazon.com/author/arlacaraboolad

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Ten-second Celebrations that Reach into Forever

This is a weekend of celebration. Lots of opportunity for practicing ten-second gratitude. Tonight I heard that one billion people around the world will be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus tomorrow! Does that make you feel insignificant or part a great cause? It’s all a matter of perspective. Will you be spending 10-30 seconds on the wonder of God becoming human, dying and picking up his life again? 

Maybe you have no real conviction about Jesus, but I do love what C. S. Lewis said, “Since Jesus claimed to be God, he can’t be just a great prophet or teacher. He was either what he claimed to be, or he isn’t even good. He’s a charlatan or a lunatic.”

I’m quoting from memory so it may not be an exact quote. But the point is we get to look at the evidence and choose how we will see it, in every part of life. Jesus himself said over and over, “Be careful how you see.” In other words, your perspective or perception will determine what you believe. And so often it’s just a choice–or it might be allowing another’s opinion to influence us. But in the end it is our choice to default or be purposeful.

Tonight I responded to someone’s text by saying, “The negative will eat you alive and consume you if you let it.” And it is so true. I caught myself being critical tonight at a dramatic musical presentation of the life and passion of Jesus. It was a very creative and well-done play, but being so familiar with the story, after three years of writing and rewriting it for my blog on the life of Jesus, of course I could pick it apart. I finally just had to tell myself enjoy the tremendous work that went into it, the music, the creativity, and the reason for it. It’s embarrassing to admit how critical I am. It’s distressing to look at. But there it is.

If you don’t have a bent towards criticalness, then you have something else. We are all broken! That I know for sure. So we may as well admit it and help each other up when we fall into our particular brand of disgrace. To choose not to see it, or hide it, is worse for us and those around us.

And we can do a lot to help ourselves by choosing celebration rather than criticism of ourselves or something else. To criticize is so human. To celebrate is so divine. One thing I have learned about God is They love to celebrate! Praise is the tone of heaven. So if we are happy criticizing everything here, we might not fit there! Scary thought. I want to be someone who is comfortable with what’s right, what’s good, what’s worth celebrating. And I can start now by hanging onto the good thoughts and feelings for at least 10 seconds.

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Choice — Guest Post by Loxlia Paltz

I found myself in the dark of night this week. That black space where the silence covers you like a heavy blanket. I was there, on the floor in the bathroom, sobs born of my own weakness, my failure, shaking my bones. The only sound–my heart splintering in my chest. Why did say that? That’s not me. I didn’t mean to. Didn’t want to. It didn’t matter. It’s the worst thing I could have done to him.

And He was there. Whispering comfort. Promising the future. Forgiving. Always there.

For days I’ve thought of this approaching Easter, this celebration of His resurrection, my head twisting all around it. Do I get it? Really “get” it?

I’m not sure I did.

I don’t even like to say that. It feels wrong. But it’s truth, stark honesty of my humanity.

Many have died for His name, tortured and disfigured, refusing to deny Him. Many even crucified. Peter, His Peter, crucified upside down, feeling unworthy of dying His death.

And we dress up, go to church, and hear about this Son of God crucified for us. Risen from the dead. And it fits neatly into a little package in our minds. Yes, we’re grateful. Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, it absolutely changes lives. But do we really get it?

What made Him different? Able to save? Was it His divinity? His humanity?

What made Him choose me? In those splintering moments of anguish that I cannot make sense of, what was different?

Jesus was both fully human and fully divine. And it was neither His humanity nor His divinity that made Him different. It was both. He grew from a baby, learning about life and about God just as we do, in a time of strife and conflict–statistics of that time show high death rates, crushing poverty, and persecution. All those things that developed His compassion, His awareness of suffering and pain.

It is learning to suffer, to feel, that makes us able to fully love. We are not as humans able to dissect our hearts. We cannot choose to only feel love. If we are to feel love we must be willing to suffer. We must learn to suffer. We must live–hearts wide-open.

I’m struck by this. Undone by the thought that it was the careful development of Christ’s humanity that made him the only atoning sacrifice. That His humanity could not have carried the weight if not carefully woven with His unused divinity. He could have at any moment chosen, “That’s it, I’m not doing this, its not worth it.”

And it would have been true. I am not worth it.

He chose me. There in those moments, when the fullness of His humanity tested the fullness of His divinity. He chose me. He embraced the crushing anguish. The brutality. The very worst darkness ever known, death and separation from His Father. He surrendered to it. Not in weakness, by choice He went there.

He was ravaged and broken by my brokenness. Held it in His hands and said, “I choose you”. A warrior in battle surging onto the front lines. Giving every last ounce of Himself for me. For you. And then He lay silent. Dead. It was over.

They had taken it all. His very breath. I had taken it all. With my wounds and weakness, the dark corners of my heart, I had taken everything He had. His humanity, His divinity, spilled onto the rock for me. He died my death–my broken, sinful, separating, human death–by choice. Because He loves me.

Then the sun rose and there in His divinity He walked out of my tomb. Broke the shackles off of my forever darkness, just walked out into the light. And that is what is different. It was not His humanity nor His divinity, that made Him my atonement. My rescuer. It was His love. His choice. I am always His choice.

His reckless love takes on the very greatest anguish to never be apart from me. To never have to let me go. In spite of my flaws, my weakness, the crippling weight of my guilt, He made the world His stage to show His love.

He loves me. Really loves me. By choice.

And there it is – Choice. The defining word.

Love is never love without choice. It is the choosing, the action, that makes it love. It is willingness to suffer that allows us to love. And there has never been anyone more willing to suffer.

Nothing can ever separate me from Him. Nothing. Because the question was my freedom, my heart. And in all my messiness He chose me. Wrapped His broken body around my shattered heart and chose me.

The difference is Love. Wild, reckless, unchanging love. The difference is Him.

I really get it. He is completely mine. So very completely that my death has already been endured. Already been conquered. Just because He loves me.

I, in awe and surrender, can simply dare to be Loved.

 

by Loxlia  http://Godhelps.net/About us    also   http://Brokenbeautyproject.com

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Mandela — A Guide to Being You

I’ve written how I loved Invictus, a movie about Mandela and how he used the rugby team to solidify South Africa. I remember Matt Damon (team captain) going to visit the prison where Mandela spent 27 years, and in wonder spreading his arms to touch both walls, both ways of the 8×8 cell. There was a hard-back chair and that was all.

I still can’t imagine it–how anyone could survive that and come out as a beacon of love and forgiveness. But he did. One man can change a country, a world.

Inspiration like that doesn’t last long unless you feed it. Have you noticed that? But how can we keep it alive?

The same way he achieved his amazing triumph of spirit–by choice.

It just now came to me. He was in an easier place to do the thing we don’t do, because in that kind of desolate place, it is continually before you every waking minute–choose! You have to choose how to think about this, how to relate to it, or your emotions will eat you alive.

Here’s what I know: in that situation emotions take over and fire up every possible kind of anger, fear, and despair–running the gamut and determining your perspective. Or you completely shut down and go into depression, overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.

The grinding day after day sameness and privation would break most of us, but not Mandela; or you, if you believed in choice like he did and if you were committed to right like he was. The one line of “Invictus,” the poem he kept with him continually, says it all, “I am the captain of my soul.”

In other words, I don’t have to react, I can choose and depend on Goodness and Love to bring it around–eventually.

Sometimes all you can choose is your perspective, but that is yours. And no one can take that if you don’t allow them to choose how you see or how you react.

Think about that. You are capable of choice.

My husband and I are currently reading the prophet Hosea in the Holy Scriptures. What has jumped at me is God’s perspective on pain. He says He took them to the Valley of Achor (Suffering or Troubling) as a door of hope.

Really? Say again… So He did. When they had plenty, they became full and left Him…they didn’t need Him when it was good and forgot that He was their Source, their protector, their happiness.

If God blessed them they forgot Him. That became a huge problem for Israel. Over and over it happened. They either didn’t believe that He really loved and cared for them, or they didn’t care. But again and again when things got good they forgot about their living God and ran after gods they created.

Suffering was their safety.

Suffering is one of our best teachers, and we have another sublime example of it in Mandela’s life.

Suffering forces choice. But it’s not God’s desire.

His problem and ours is that when things are good enough we forget about God and choice.

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