Secret of Forgiveness

The secret of forgiveness, regardless of whether you want to use it as a method of detachment or as a way to fortify your relationship after repair, is to focus not on the offensive behavior, but on freeing yourself of the emotional pain you experienced as a result of the behavior.

The most severe aspect of emotional pain is the sense of powerlessness it engenders. Intentional forgiveness helps you take back power over your emotional life.

— Steven Stosny, Living and Loving After Betrayal, p. 230

Photo: Notre Dame, Paris, April 2001

Deciding to Love Life

You have to make a conscious decision to love life. It won’t happen on its own and no one else can do it for you. One way to help you become conscious of your own love of life is to do as this young man did, and remember the times you felt it in your own life.

Like him, many people have gotten into the habit of not loving life. I don’t think it happens deliberately, but it seems to be a habit that comes easily. It’s a habit, though, that has a seriously destructive effect on our lives, and erodes so much of our potential for happiness. We need to break this habit by starting to see the little joys that are in our lives. I meet mothers who see their lives as one chore after another, and forget to see all the moments when they really love being a mother. When we allow ourselves to love life we get energized mentally and physically, and start to see more purpose in our lives. We become happier and healthier people, more able to cope with whatever life throws at us. We become more compassionate and loving, less judgmental.

— Lorna Byrne, Love from Heaven, p. 115

Photo: Meadowlark Gardens, Virginia, April 3, 2012

Choosing to Bless

Our worry is a form of fear, and all fear comes from our attack thoughts. When we worry about someone, we have no confidence in them or the situation. Our worry says that negative things could happen, so we are using the power of our mind to create a lack of confidence in them and to allow fearful elements in the situation. Worry attacks the situation; choosing to bless it would help build the situation and those in it.

Today, every time you feel tempted to worry about someone or something, give your blessing. Your blessing is your trust and your positive choice for the best thing to happen for everyone in the situation.

— Chuck Spezzano, If It Hurts, It Isn’t Love

[Photo: Falkenstein, Germany, April 27, 2000]

The Redemption Story

And with all this we lift up our eyes and realize that when the New Testament tells us the meaning of the cross, it gives us not a system, but a story; not a theory, but a meal and an act of humble service; not a celestial mechanism for punishing sin and taking people to heaven, but an earthly story of a human Messiah who embodies and incarnates Israel’s God and who unveils his glory in bringing his kingdom to earth as in heaven. The Western church – and we’ve all gone along with this – has been so concerned with getting to heaven, with sin as the problem blocking the way, and therefore with how to remove sin and its punishment, that it has jumped straight to passages in Paul that can be made to serve that purpose. It has forgotten that the gospels are replete with atonement theology, through and through — only they give it to us not as a neat little system, but as a powerful, sprawling, many-sided, richly revelatory narrative in which we are invited to find ourselves, or rather to lose ourselves and to be found again the other side. We have gone wading in the shallow and stagnant waters of medieval questions and answers, taking care to put on the right footwear and not lose our balance, when only a few yards away is the vast and dangerous ocean of the gospel story, inviting us to plunge in and let the wild waves of dark glory wash us, wash over us, wash us through and through, and land us on the shores of God’s new creation.

— N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, p. 415-416

[Photo: From SchloƟ Neuschwanstein, Germany, June 2, 1997]

Forgiveness Frees Us to Love

Too often the people who suffer from our grievances are not the people who hurt us but those who care for us today.

If we rent too much space to what went wrong, where is the space to appreciate the good in our lives? If we focus attention on past defeats, how can we give our full loving attention to our significant other, friends, or co-workers? If we remain bitter over past parenting cruelties, who suffers — our parents or our current friends and loved ones?

— Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 73

[Photo: Meersburg, Germany, June 1, 1997]

Vast Mercy

Remember how full are the Prophets, and the Psalms no less, of pictures of the vastness of the divine mercy, of his tenderness that never fails. Even from amid the sadness of the Lamentations, we hear a voice assuring us that “the Lord will not cast off for ever, but though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies” (Lam 3:31).

Or take these words, “I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always angry, for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made” (Isa 57:16). This idea is a favourite one; the contrast between the short duration of God’s anger, and the enduring endless character of his love. “So in a little wrath I hid my face from you for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on you, says the Lord your Redeemer” (Isa 54:8).

— Thomas Allin, Christ Triumphant, p. 238

[Photo: Sky Meadows State Park, Virginia, July 3, 2017]

Habits of Connection

Build habits of connection. Intimate connection is largely a matter of attitude and habit. We choose to regard ourselves as connected and we choose to feel disconnected. In general, you’ll like yourself more when you choose connection and less when you choose disconnection. To love like empowered adults, build habits of brief moments of connection and structure them into your daily routine.

— Steven Stosny, Empowered Love, p. 212

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 12, 2018

No Time for Disappointment

“Behold the One beholding you and smiling.” It is precisely because we have such an overactive disapproval gland ourselves that we tend to create God in our own image. It is truly hard for us to see the truth that disapproval does not seem to be part of God’s DNA. God is just too busy loving us to have any time left for disappointment.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 28

Photo: Notre Dame, Paris, April 2001

Stories and Community

Her story reveals how the biblical text comes alive in the context of community, its endless shades and contours revealed in the presence of a diversity of readers — young and old, learned and unlearned, rich and poor, historic and contemporary, living and dead. This style of engagement not only brings us closer to Scripture’s many truths, but closer to one another. The sacred text becomes a crucial point of contact, a great dining room table, erected by God and set by God’s people, where those who hunger for nourishment and companionship can gather together and be filled.

— Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 24

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, October 9, 2014

Gratitude as Practice

Practice takes time. A well-known rule of practice says that to become an expert at something, you need to devote ten thousand hours to doing it. Gratitude is not a practice that can be counted in hours. Instead, it invites us to engage the longer arc of time. In order for it to become a habit, it asks that we attend to seeing time more fully: engaging the past more graciously, living more appreciatively now, and building thanks into the foundation of our future. Attending to our lives with hindsight, wide sight, and foresight moves gratefulness from emotion to ethic. Thus, gratitude may feel good — and those good feelings do good things for us — but as an ethical disposition, gratitude is a strong basis for creating a good life. The habit of gratefulness helps us thrive. It not only takes time, but it can change the way we experience the times of our lives.

— Diana Butler Bass, Gratitude, p. 70

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 15, 2013