I saw a video of one of my favorite songs, for the first time, while doing cardio on Saturday. Then I walked into church on Sunday, and heard the very thoughts that I have been mulling over. It was clear that I should write about this today, so here goes…
Most shocking exercise? I am sure that you are thinking about some torturous routine with kettlebells, or burpees, right? Well, there is one exercise that makes us all sweat, and requires more strength than most of us realize. Failure to properly execute it can cause unnecessary aches and damage. The most difficult, but undeniably most rewarding exercise that you could ever do is to forgive.
People often ask why I go out of my way to encourage others, or find a bright side to a situation. You would think that it is because I was born as a naturally cheery person. HA! Not in the least (& if you want proof, try asking a question before coffee…if you dare). I am simply a person who has experienced an unwavering, non judgemental Love. Even after being subjected to people who pervert it, I elect to love, and uplift others. It is so much easier said than done, but I know what it feels like to be rejected, and I never want to cause that type of harm to anyone else. Even if I disagree with you, or if you hurt me, you will always find forgiveness and love from me. Why? When I was at my lowest, and darkest, the purest Love imaginable rescued and restored me. I didn’t deserve it, could never do anything to earn it, and have no way to repay it. The best thing that I can do is share it.
Many moons ago, I worked for an organization that should have been a beacon of hope, and den of restoration. Unfortunately for many people, it was not such a place. I started to see why people would say, “I don’t go to church because of church people.” I always thought that was the craziest statement…until I found my own life being torn apart by false accusations, and relationships suddenly ended by isolation. The very people who professed to love me, and the One who create me, were hurling the hugest stones of condemnation and rejection. I had every right to hate everyone involved. I lost more than what most people ever realized. Years later, when some of the same people reached out to me, they were shocked when I wasn’t horrible to them. How could I not hate them, or at least the people who started the foolishness? I hate no one. I would cause zero harm to the organization, or its supporters, by carrying a torch of bitterness. In fact, I would only hurt myself by refusing to forgive. My life is full of joy because I choose not to allow anyone to make me miserable.
Remember the old adage – unforgiveness is like drinking poison, and waiting for the other person to die? It seems so stupid, doesn’t it? Why would anyone willingly drink poison? We do it every single day when we refuse to forgive. Your feelings about the wrongs committed against you are valid. No one expects you to be a teflon superhero, and feel nothing. No one suggests that you pretend not to care about your hurts. I wish that we could control other people, but the only control that we will ever have is over ourselves. When we elect to release the other person from the clutches of wrath and bitterness in our minds, we open up our lives to receive healing, restoration, love, and life. It isn’t easy, but nothing that is worth much ever is. Trust me: when I was constantly the sickest, and most miserable, it was when I harbored all of the ill thoughts about all of the horrible people and experiences of my life. I cannot pretend that none of them happened, and some of them are so awful that you wouldn’t believe that I survived them. What I can do is live a wonderful life in spite of all that has happened. I can be happy no matter what. I can love, and overcome hate. I can forgive, and reject fear. I can be at peace, and be a peacegiver.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting, or failing to see the truth about an issue. If you have been physically attacked, it would be downright ridiculous to invite the attacker out to dinner. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you have to become friends. However, it releases you from the prison of fear, and the torment of replaying an incident, and frees your heart and mind. Forgiveness doesn’t help the offender; it liberates the offended. You can lift weights until you’re chiseled, and run a million miles, but you’ll never be 100% healthy until you allow your heart and mind to heal from bitterness.
This song by Jessica Reedy is touching without ever seeing the video. I played the song for over a year before seeing it; however, watching this made her story even more moving. She was born with the looks and the voice of stardom, and everyone around her just knew that she was going places. Her awesome talent earned her a scholarship to school, and everyone around her praised her for it. She, like so many other kids who leave home for college, made a series of poor decisions, and found herself back at home…no scholarship or degree, no job, and a child on the way. The same people who praised her became the very ones who jeered her. Fast forward to her second chance at a singing career..it worked, and people started to rally around her. She could be bitter. She could be judgemental. However, she is simply grateful for grace and love.
I don’t know what you believe, or what faith you accept, but I do know a very simple truth. When you encounter real love, it changes you. You should not inflict condemnation upon others when your transgressions have been washed away. Your freedom should make you want to see others set free. Rather than dying inside from isolation, and suffering from instant replays of all of the wrongs that were done to you, I hope that you will exercise your forgiveness muscles, and live your greatest, strongest life of freedom.
You are loved!
Until next time,