Heart in the Clouds

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gratitudes 2011 - #9

You know how there are times when God uses your misunderstandings with other people just to let you see what’s really in your own heart? Yeah, that’s been me the past few days. It’s just been one of those weeks. I guess, though, that it’s been a good thing because I have seen myself get better, even this week, at tempering my attitudes. It’s truly through no good thing in myself, I’ll tell you that for sure.

It’s easy to remain hurt, to play the victim or to blame others when you‘ve been wronged. The hard part is forgiving, letting go and being honest with yourself about the part you play in your own failed interactions. Humility is something I’m trying to learn. Humility is a key ingredient in the mixture that is forgiveness.

Why is forgiving so hard? I suppose if it were an easy thing, we wouldn’t appreciate the forgiveness and undeserved favor we have in our own lives. By realizing how hard it is to really forgive, we realize how much God loves us. I know that I have done so many things to hurt Him. I have yelled and screamed at Him, questioned His existence and squandered His love. He keeps loving me, though, and He forgives me even before I ask Him to.

The Prodigal Son could have played the victim, or he could have blamed everyone else but himself for the problems in his life. But if he had, he probably would have stayed and wallowed in the pig sty for the rest of his life. Instead, when he turned to head home, he was shocked and overjoyed to see his father running toward him with open arms, because he had been sure his father would reject him. He was certain that he would be forced to become a servant, and he was okay with that. He knew what he had put his father through.

Instead, the father brought out his best robe and put it on his son. He had his servants make the best meal they could to welcome the boy home. He threw a party! Did he care that his son had squandered his inheritance on the worst possible things? No. He was just happy to have his son home, and he wanted his son to know that he was loved and accepted.

I assure you that forgiving would be harder for me, no matter how much I love the other person. As faulty humans, we put up walls and we give the cold shoulder when we’ve been hurt. But the story of the Prodigal Son is not just a lesson in God’s love for us, it’s also a lesson in forgiving and letting go of our hurts.

The Father is the best example of forgiveness we can have. He first loved us. He sacrificed everything for us, even though He knew we would never really be able to appreciate it. That’s a big deal. That’s a REALLY big deal.

So I hope you take some time to appreciate that forgiveness is HUGE. I heard someone say that forgiveness is letting go of the possibility that the past could have been any different than it was. It’s about releasing those who have hurt you from your judgment and your grudges, and expecting no more of them. It’s about loving, even if you don’t like what the person does. That’s hard. I’m the first to admit it. But if God, the Father, can do it for me (knowing who I am on the inside), I can learn to do it, too.

Today, I’m grateful for…

Seeing myself for who I am. When I can really take a look at myself and take stock of the good and bad things in my heart, I can truly start to learn from my mistakes. But I can also appreciate the good things I see in myself.

Laughter. It’s been a life saver this past little while.

Chocolate. Another life saver. (You think I’m kidding, don’t you?)

Having so much to look forward to. God is so good to me in the NOW, but I’m so grateful to have exciting things ahead.

Friends. I have so many encouragers in my life and I’m wholeheartedly grateful for all of you.

My bootstraps. Sometimes they’re necessary, because I occasionally need to pull myself up by them.

Learning to focus on what IS happening rather than on what is NOT happening. I used to be the kind of person who focused on what people weren’t doing or on what I did not see happening in my life. Gratitude has given me the shift I needed to look at all the amazing things that are happening, even when some things aren’t. To everything there is a season…

I hope you are able to see yourself for who you really are. Be transparent about your flaws…I’m not talking about the muffin top that pops out of your jeans (ugh!) or the wrinkles that appear on your face. I’m talking about REAL faults here--not in a “woe is me” or an “I’m so horrible” way, but in an honest/self-accepting kind of way. I’m talking about taking stock of the things that need to change in your heart and then asking God to take control. Giving over control is not easy, but I’ll tell you for sure that it’s worth it.

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