Defining Forgiveness

May 27th, 2017

I define forgiveness as the experience of peace and understanding that can be felt in the present moment. You forgive by challenging the rigid rules you have for other people’s behavior and by focusing your attention on the good things in your life as opposed to the bad. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting or denying that painful things occurred. Forgiveness is the powerful assertion that bad things will not ruin your today even though they may have spoiled your past.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. xii

Fuel for Growth

May 9th, 2017

To soar above is to go beyond limits, to become greater, to become the most empowered and humane persons we can be. This, I believe, is the evolved function of pain: not to suffer or to identify with suffering but to grow beyond it. As we’ve seen, the natural function of pain is to motivate behavior that will heal, correct, and improve. The Adult brain uses pain as fuel for growth.

— Steven Stosny, Soar Above, p. 144

An Instinct for Forgiveness

May 6th, 2017

“The natural response when someone hits you,” the Archbishop said, “is wanting to hit back. But why do we admire people who don’t choose revenge? It is our recognition of the fact that, yes, there are those who think an eye for an eye is going to satisfy you. But in the end you discover that an eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind. We have an instinct for revenge but also for forgiveness.”

— Archbishop Desmond Tutu, quoted by Douglas Abrams in The Book of Joy, p. 236

Destroying Sin

May 5th, 2017

Punishment, I repeat, is not the thing required of God, but the absolute destruction of sin. What better is the world, what better is the sinner, what better is God, what better is the truth, that the sinner should suffer — continue suffering to all eternity? Would there be less sin in the universe? Would there be any making-up for sin? Would it show God justified in doing what he knew would bring sin into the world, justified in making creatures he knew would sin? What setting-right would come of the sinner’s suffering? If justice demanded it, if suffering be the equivalent for sin, then the sinner must suffer, and God is bound to exact his suffering, and not pardon; and so the making of man was a tyrannical deed, a creative cruelty. But grant that the sinner has deserved to suffer, no amount of suffering is any atonement for his sin. To suffer to all eternity could not make up for one unjust word.

An unjust word is an eternally evil thing; nothing but God in my heart can cleanse me from the evil that uttered it. But it does not follow that I saw the evil of what I did so perfectly that eternal punishment for it would be just. Sorrow and confession and self-abasing love will make up for the evil word; suffering will not. For evil in the abstract, nothing can be done. It is eternally evil. But I may be saved from it by learning to loathe it, to hate it, to shrink from it with an eternal avoidance. The only vengeance worth having on sin is to make the sinner himself its executioner.

— George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, Third Series, “Justice,” quoted in Discovering the Character of God, p. 259

Stop with the Revenge

April 29th, 2017

All of us complain about what is missing in our lives, what we don’t have or what we would like more of. Our willingness to take a deeper look at why we do not have this thing would bring us our answer. The answer is that we are getting revenge on someone. It is always true that we are getting revenge on ourselves, but that is not the whole answer. Revenge is always about getting back at someone beside ourselves. As we are willing to let go of our power struggles with this person, we are no longer robbed of our present happiness.

Today, it is time to stop getting revenge and let yourself receive. Ask yourself, “By not having this thing, who is it I’m getting revenge on? Who is it I am getting back at?” Close your eyes and imagine this person standing in front of you. Is the power struggle worth more than what it is you want? Be willing to forgive them for whatever wrong you perceived them doing. Now give to them the very thing you want. As you do, you will feel yourself receiving and being filled with the same thing.

— Chuck Spezzano, If It Hurts, It Isn’t Love,, p. 252

Facing the Wind

April 24th, 2017

“We are meant to live in joy,” the Archbishop explained. “This does not mean that life will be easy or painless. It means that we can turn our faces to the wind and accept that this is the storm we must pass through. We cannot succeed by denying what exists. The acceptance of reality is the only place from which change can begin.” The Archbishop had said that when one grows in the spiritual life, “You are able to accept anything that happens to you.” You accept the inevitable frustrations and hardships as part of the warp and woof of life. That question, he had said, is not: How do we escape it? The question is: How can we use this as something positive?

— Archbishop Desmond Tutu, quoted by Douglas Abrams in The Book of Joy, p. 224

Easter Is the Answer

April 23rd, 2017

A graduate student wrote to ask if my Christianity affects my novels, and I replied that it is the other way around. My writing affects my Christianity. In a way one might say that my stories keep converting me back to Christianity, from which I am constantly tempted to stray because the circle of blessing seems frayed and close to breaking, and my faith is so frail and flawed that I fall away over and over again from my God. There are times when I feel that he has withdrawn from me, and I have often given him cause; but Easter is always the answer to My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!

— Madeleine L’Engle, The Irrational Season, p. 99, quoted in Madeleine L’Engle, Herself, compiled by Carole F. Chase

You Are Lovable.

April 8th, 2017

If you believe, as I do, that God is love, and not an old man in the sky hurling lightning bolts at unsuspecting innocents, and that this love is the creative force of the universe — and these are big ifs, I understand that — then you are, by the fact that you are created, loved. You are lovable because God loved you first.

But some people — maybe even most people — don’t see themselves that way. Far too often, we’ve been taught not to see God that way. We’ve been taught the vindictive-old-man version of God, and not the creative-force-of-love version, and so we may never have known that we are lovable. Or perhaps, through the little dramas and big traumas of life, we’ve forgotten it.

When you don’t know that you’re lovable as you are, you need someone to show you.

— Kerry Egan, On Living, p. 150-151.

Wisdom, Not Weakness

April 6th, 2017

Longing for love is not weakness. It’s wisdom. Numbing our loneliness is a path to a despair that plagues our entire culture. We are not meant to be alone and self-sufficient. Without lives filled with love, we wither inside. Intimacy is oxygen. We don’t need to transcend our hunger for love — we need to honor it.

— Ken Page, Deeper Dating, p. 4-5

Deepest Wounds

April 3rd, 2017

Maybe you can live a full and beautiful life in spite of the great and terrible moments that will happen right inside of you. Actually — maybe you get to become more abundant because of those moments. Maybe — I don’t know how, but somehow? — maybe our hearts are made to be broken. Broken open. Broken free. Maybe the deepest wounds birth deepest wisdom.

— Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way, p. 24