The Legacy I Want To Leave

Having gone through depression and being an Advocate personality (a, la Myers-Brigg personality type), I had rarely felt like I belonged anywhere, and thus the subject of death came up many times in my mind.  However, in the past few years, when I think about death and dying, I think more about the legacy I want to leave and what kind of life I want to have lived should the inevitable happen.  Recently, I visited one of my fellow congregants, who is now in hospice. Thinking about the pain and the triumphs that she has been through, I started also thinking about the legacy I want to leave when it is my time to go.  Here is the legacy I want to leave:

First and foremost, I want to lead a legacy of love. I don’t want to leave this earth with people thinking that they were not valued and loved by me.  Sure, I may have bad days, and inevitably this may happen to some degree, but as far as it is possible, I want people to know that they are valued.  I not only want to speak encouragement into others’ lives, but also want to show tangible demonstrations of God’s love to them whenever I can.

I also want to contribute to ending social injustices, such as abuse and slavery.  One way I aim to continue to do this is to spread awareness about these injustices and help some of those who are or have suffered through this.  I want to continue encouraging and coming alongside, as a support, to those I know who have been through abuse or any other type of social injustice.

I also want to buck the trend of apathy in this society, by going against this trend. For instance, I have seen a lot of people both in the places where I work or used to work, do their job solely for the paycheck, and have no passion or joy in what they are doing or for the people they are supposed to be serving. For me, I don’t want to be that person who has no joy or passion for others or for life.  I want to serve others, both at my job, and at other places, with all my heart. I want to work hard because I know it will all be worth it in the end.  When I see someone hurting or suffering, I want to at least stop and pray for them.  I don’t want to turn a blind eye to them, but see where I can help meet their need.

One of the reasons why I don’t ever want to be known as apathetic is because I know how it feels to be devalued by seemingly apathetic people, or people that just gave up on me.  When I have been visibly upset, I lost count of how many times people either just judgmentally stared at me, or avoided me altogether, not even trying to help or seeing if everything is OK. I was also rejected by caretakers at a daycare because I was too unruly for them to handle.  Also, because I had had a demanding personality when I was a child, most of my peers didn’t really want to be close friends with me. When I was going through hell and back in my early teenage years, I could probably count on my hands the number of people that actually cared enough to ask me what was going on with me.

I also want to be able to let go of the things that won’t matter after I die.  Right now, what I am working on letting go of  is a.) holding grudges and anger against individual people. b) the need to be always in control.  c) little things that bother me now, but won’t matter after death.

Sometimes (ok, often), when people offend me, I tend to replay what they did and how I would respond if it happened again.  This replay-tape in my mind tends to build up my anger and bitterness for those people.   I am working on (and getting a bit better at) not replaying the tape so many times. I want to be able to let go and forgive, because I don’t want to be holding grievances against any person when it’s my time to go.  I also want to let go of the need to have everything go my way. I always had thought that if everyone would just cooperate with me and everyone and everything would exactly be this certain way, I wouldn’t be stressed or upset at anything anymore.  However, I have learned that even if things don’t all go exactly my way, I still can find joy and peace in the fact that everything will turn out how it is supposed to and that God will give me the strength I need during each season of my life.  I also want to let go of all the other things that bother me in life, but that won’t matter when I go, such as not finding  something that I want to use or waiting in traffic.

Finally, I want to hold on to the things in my life that will ultimately matter. I aim to always value my God, my family, and my friends, in that order, and above all else, than anything else  this life has to offer. I want to value people over things. I want to hold on to continually developing and improving my character.  I want to be less angry and anxious. Ever since I was little, I have had the propensity to worry. However, I want to leave here not worried about anything anymore. I want to be at complete and total peace.  I also want to be more compassionate to others and less self-centered. I don’t want to let one more day go by without being thankful, in some way, for the people that are in my life. I want to glorify God every day of my life, and I want to love others the way that my God and the people that He brought into my life have shown love to me.  I want to cause a positive chain reaction and ultimately change my world for the better.

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Power of Forgiveness

I have struggled with forgiving people for a long time. I had thought that by withholding my forgiveness and affection towards those that hurt me, that I would, in effect, force them to “pay me back” for all the hurt they had caused me. Thus, they would never hurt me again, or so I thought.  However, about a year ago, I had an epiphany that made me realize my bitterness and resentment were futile in getting my offender or offenders to actually change. I also realized that, not only did the offender not change their behavior towards me, but also, in many cases, they had either no idea or didn’t care that they had hurt me! I also found the incredible power of forgiveness and how it can changes lives—not only mine, but yours, as well.

The first thing about forgiveness that I found is that it gives the forgiver the power to love again. When I was bitter and resentful of some people I knew, I found that it significantly stunted my ability to love, not only them, but all those around me, even those who had never hurt me and had nothing to do with the offender or the hurtful incidents. However, when I forgave the people that hurt me, I found my love for everyone grew stronger than even before the offender had hurt me! In some cases, I even found myself compelled to be kind and reach out to the offenders!  Another example of how forgiveness has helped people love again I learned from history.  During the Rwandan civil war, when the Hutus and Tutsis were fighting so much that the Hutus wanted to commit genocide against the Tutsis, some of the Tutsis eventually forgave the Hutus, ending the war and paving the way for reconciliation.

Forgiveness also gives strength.  Some people think forgiveness gives a free pass to the offenders or excuses their actions. Nothing could be further from the truth! First of all, the fact that someone needs to be forgiven says that they did something wrong. Second of all, one can forgive someone, and still expect justice to be served, but not out of a heart of anger and bitterness. Finally, radical forgiveness often requires much thought and emotional strength on the part of the forgiver to let things go that he or she naturally would want to hold on to, such as the desire for the offender to hurt like he or she has been.  Forgiveness also gives us strength to move on with our lives and to love more radically.

Finally, forgiveness gives the forgiver power to bring about positive changes to the relationships. When I forgave several people at work who had said and done things that I considered hurtful to me, I often realized that despite all that happened, that there was still hope of reconciling our relationship.  Moreover, I was also able to gain a deeper understanding, and sometimes an even greater appreciation of their perspectives on things. I have become more conscious of what I may have done to contribute to the strain in the relationship, often including my bitterness and resentment towards them, and resolve to treat them with more grace and mercy, even though I may feel that they don’t deserve as much.  Thus, I found that the people that initially offended me later softened up and treated me with more consideration after I had genuinely forgiven them.

As one can see, forgiveness is a very powerful force in this world for good.  Yes, it is often difficult to do. However, the benefits of persevering in forgiveness are considerably great. Forgiveness gives us the power to love again and like never before. Forgiveness also gives us strength to move on with our lives so that we are not trapped by our past.  Finally, forgiveness can invite reconciliation and bring positive changes into the once-strained relationship. Who do you need to forgive? Who have you forgiven? I don’t know about you, but forgiving others has given me such freedom and such peace with others.

Losing Pride, Gaining Joy

I believe that one of the greatest causes of conflict and emotional pain in this world today is pride. Society sees humility as a weakness—an admission of guilt or defect. However, what if we gained the awareness that we are all weak in some way? What if we realized that our weaknesses, even the ones that we want no one to know about, do not diminish our worth as a person?  What if we realized that it is not all about us? What if we realized how valuable our life is, and, thus used our time to make a positive impact on the world around us?

Here is what I learned about how to lose arrogant pride and thus gain joy:

  1. View life as a gift.—About four years ago, I started having pains in my side. My parents and I thought it was just a hernia from lifting heavy things at my job at the time. However, when I started throwing up blood, my parents drove me to the hospital, and I was admitted almost right away. As it turned out, my gall bladder was about twice the size it should have been and inflamed.  If I had waited just a few hours later to go to the hospital, my gall bladder would have burst, and I would probably not be here to share this story with you today.  Strangely enough, I did not realize how close I was to death, until about three years later, when a co-worker from my current job exclaimed, “You could have died!” when I told her my story. Hopefully, it won’t take almost dying to view your life as a gift, but that is what I realized that day. Another time when I could have come close to dying was when I was driving to church, a few months ago, and a driver could have crashed into me and caused a serious accident had I not stopped for them in the nick of time!  From those incidents, I realized how fleeting life can be, and how it can be taken from me at any moment.  Thus, I also realized that we should view each blessing (good thing) that we are given as a gift and treat them accordingly.  Another thing I learned about life is to savor each moment we are given, because we will never be given the exact same opportunities again. Often, we (me included) are so busy that we just brush past our activities and those we encounter, and don’t really enjoy or value them.  Nearly dying at least twice in my life, has helped me begin to savor each moment more. It is a work in progress, but I found that when I am able to slow down and savor the moment, I am much more joyful and less stuck on myself and what I want to accomplish at that time.
  2. Stop comparing and envying.—Envy and the comparison game are great contributors to arrogant pride. I mentioned in a previous post that I was envious of several people in my life because I felt inadequate and lacking compared to them. However, several years ago, I realized that by envying them, I was accomplishing absolutely nothing for my own life.  Envying them did not make me more successful or strengthen my relationships to these people. In fact, it probably created an invisible barrier between us!   Another thing I learned (and am continuing to learn) is to stop comparing myself to people that I think are “better” in some way than me. This only leads to depression and/or prideful arrogance against them, as one may compensate by thinking about something in themselves that is way better than the envied person just to cover up their envy.
  3. Treasure others as much as yourself.—One way to combat arrogant pride is to think more (or as much) about others as yourself. For example, if you see someone is tired and stressed out at your job because they are overwhelmed by their work, offer to help them out. Do not only think about how much you are stressed out or how much you want to go home, right now. Another way to treasure others as much as you is to learn other people’s life stories.  Get to know people, not only their favorite foods or their favorite sport, but also what their goals in life are, what makes them joyful and sad, what happened in their past to make them the people they are today. Above all, live to serve others.  This does not mean to be a doormat and cater to someone taking advantage of you. However, living to serve others means to sometimes sacrifice what you want, for another person’s joy.  It also means living to make a positive difference in others’ lives and bringing hope to others.
  4. We should also stop thinking that anyone “owes” us anything.—The entitlement mentality also is a great contributor to arrogant pride because it focuses exclusively on self and our “rights.” The longer I live, the more I realize that no one really “owes” me anything. When I view everything as a gift, this thinking can be stopped right in its tracks. Another way to stop entitlement mentality is to remember the mercy and grace shown to you  in your life. For example, if you did something nice for someone else, and that person does not even say “Thank you,” do not hold a grudge against them because you think you have “the right” to be appreciated.  Instead, remember all the times someone else did something nice to you and you forgot to say thank you, but they did not hold it against you.  Also, try to remember the times where you did not get the bad you deserved, or got the good you did not merit. For instance, even though I am sometimes selfish and bone-headed, people still generally treat me with kindness and patience.  Remembering this helps me to lose the mentality that I am “owed” anything.

 

When we live each day as a gift given to us, rather than something we are owed, we gain much joy and hope in our lives. Also, when we stop comparing and envying what others have, we are much more apt to appreciate and focus on the good we already are blessed to possess.  Finally, when we live to serve others, rather than just ourselves, we get away from the “poor-me” and  entitlement mentalities and gain much joy in knowing we have made a positive difference in countless lives.

Greatest Life Lessons I Learned

I heard from someone once that it is only when we learn all our life’s lessons that we are allowed to leave this earth.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I love to learn about many different things. For instance, today I am learning how to cook a new slow cooker recipe.  I’m hoping it tastes OK. However, I consider the following life lessons that I have learned (and sometimes had to review) some of the greatest ones that I have ever been taught by various people and through a variety of circumstances in my life.  I believe that these lessons can be applicable to almost anyone, in a variety of ways, and that they are vital to be truly successful in life:

#1- Treat everyone with value. It goes a long way.—As a society, we are routinely guilty of not following this.  Sometimes, at work, you may not even get a “Thank you” regularly for a job well done.  Children are sometimes ignored or worse yet, mistreated by loved ones.  People who are looked at as “unproductive” or “inferior” in some way are treated sometimes worse than animals! What if society, starting with us, treated everyone as the valuable, priceless people they are?  I found that when I treat people with value, that they not only open up to me, but they find some joy and love for themselves as well. If you consistently treat people as valuable, you will not only ascribe dignity to them, but also gain respect for yourself.

#2-  Everyone has a story. Learn them. –I believe that part of treating others with value is taking the time to learn their life stories.  Get to know people. I mean, really get to know people. As your relationships with others grow, find out about their past, their goals and dreams, what they see as their purpose in life, how they experience love, how they overcame their pain and obstacles.  In investing in others in this way, you will not only gain a greater appreciation and understanding of others, you also may be able to make a significant positive impact in their lives.

#3 – Don’t give up!—One of the saddest parts of life that I have witnessed is people having a fallout, and never trying to work things out with the other person or forgiving them their faults.  Another sad part of life that happens far too often is people giving up on life, either by ending it all, or by becoming apathetic and/or self-indulgent about life just to ensure they never get hurt again.  I have personally been tempted by both these sad things. However, I am not a quitter, and that has made all the difference in my life.  Don’t give up. For instance, I once held a grudge against someone for almost two years!  However, I believe God orchestrated the events in my life in such a way that I was forced to interact with this person regularly.  Eventually, through a series of events in my life, I finally learned to let go and forgive, and also never to give up on this person. As a result of our persistence, this person and I have never gotten along better!  Also, many times, when I wanted to end my own life, God and others urged me to reconsider, and I did. Because I persisted in living, I am able to share with you this and other life lessons today.

#4- Work hard and have passion in what you are doing. They have its own rewards.—For a long time, I struggled in finding a full-time job.  Also, I would start many blogs, and end them within a few months.  However, shortly after getting my current job (For more on that, see this.),  I also determined to blog more regularly. I was also determined to be the best worker I could be, and find joy in the work I was doing. As a result of being more motivated at both my day job and blogging, I have felt more joy than I have than at any other point in my life!  People may not always appreciate me or say “thank you” every day, but because I am able to make a difference in others’ lives and do some of the things I love and enjoy, I feel rewarded already.

#5- Be grateful and see the beauty in everything. When one has a complaining attitude, all they see is darkness.—When I am having a bad day and have a complaining attitude, I find my day gets progressively worse.  This happens sometimes when I am stressed at work and I am not focused on the positive. However, a couple days ago, work was very busy. There were many customers to serve. Some people can be overwhelmed just by the sheer amount of people—both customers and workers—at my workplace at the time.  However, I determined to focus on the positive, despite the stress that I knew I would encounter.  Because I was able to focus on the positive, I found that I was considerably less stressed than usual, despite the chaos around me.  I was able to serve customers with a good attitude, and I was able to get things done in a timely manner. In general, when I see what I have been so richly blessed with, I am able to see the beauty in what has been given to me. I am able to enjoy my life, and not be so depressed. I believe that there is a direct correlation between gratitude and joy, and there is also a connection between having a complaining attitude and becoming depressed.

#6 –Forgive continually. Holding grudges is so not worth it.—This lesson is also one of my life epiphanies. I have found that when I hold a grudge against someone for more than one week, not only do I waste precious time; I also waste my energy as well.  I used to be one of those people that thought that I would finally get revenge against the people that hurt me if they saw how much I hated them and held back forgiveness against them.  However, I found that just the opposite happened. Not only did the offenders oftentimes, either did not care or did not know how much they had hurt me, I was also hurting myself and others who had nothing to do with the offense committed!

#7- Sometimes you just have to let people go.—Sadly, there have been instances that I observed or read about where abusers in romantic relationships haven’t learned this lesson, and end up destroying their victims and also themselves in the process.  Even many people who are not abusive in any way sometimes have trouble with this lesson.  Because I am not a quitter, I admit sometimes that I had trouble with this lesson as well.  When you have done all you can to redeem a relationship, be it romantic or otherwise, and the other person does not want any part in the restoration process, it is time to let that person go.  Yes, you can absolutely mourn the loss, but give that person space.  If you really love that person (or even have a semblance of respect for them), you need to respect their wishes. Let them go. Don’t be afraid to be alone for a while. Use this mourning period, to do something kind for another hurting person or to do something you enjoy for yourself.

#8-Don’t be so afraid. It will all work out somehow in the end.—So many times in my life, I had been plagued by worry: What if “x” happened? How am I going to make it? What would happen if I did “A” instead of “B”? Will my life be ruined?  Not only did I find out that worry is a waste of time, but I also found that often, everything eventually worked itself out.  For instance, at work I sometimes worry about not getting the straightening of my assigned area or areas done in time. Then, I find that I do get the straightening done in time or a manager or another associate helps me when they see that I am struggling. Also, for a long time, I was so afraid to drive because I thought I was going to get into an accident.  However, when I actually learned to do it, I found that I was able to drive pretty safely and that during the times when I could have gotten into an accident, God has saved me from that fate.

 

These are some of the greatest life lessons that I learned.  Learning each of these lessons (and reviewing them when necessary) has helped me not only to be more successful in my relationships, but also made me more joyful in life. What are some lessons that you have learned in life that have helped you be more successful?  Please feel free to comment, and may all of us learn all our life lessons well.

My life Epiphanies

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an epiphany is either “an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being,” or “a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something.”  In this blog post, the latter meaning will be discussed.  Though I have never had God appear to me physically, I believe God and others have been instrumental in me having several epiphanies (the latter meaning) in my life.  These epiphanies have been instrumental in shaping me and helping me become a better person than I was before.

Epiphany #1- Have compassion and understanding on those with differing beliefs, both religiously and in other areas.  

I had this epiphany about fifteen years ago thanks to one of my favorite authors, Dave Burchett, who wrote the book, When Bad Christians Happen to Good People. Before I read his book, I had rigid views on almost everything. One of the weirder beliefs I had had was that people who really liked a certain singing group, but hated my favorite group, were immoral and intolerant people.  I also thought that people who didn’t believe in a God were likewise rude and immoral.  However, when I read that book, I began to have compassion and understanding for those two groups of people.  I realized that I couldn’t, in good faith, force people to have the same beliefs about anything that I had.  I also learned that music is more a matter of taste, and not always about morality.  I no longer cared about the group that I liked, or about whether people liked the other group or not.  I also learned from that book that some people who profess my faith in God don’t really do what they believe, and that, understandably, a lot of people have been turned away from any type of religion.  Moreover, I discovered some atheists who are some of the kindest and most non-judgmental people I have ever met.

Epiphany #2—Don’t hold grudges. Forgive others as you have been forgiven, and be free at last.

This epiphany occurred to me after discussing a personal issue with one of my pastors at my current church.  I had had trouble forgiving someone and it had gotten to the point where I was coming to church with a bad attitude towards everybody and everything.  Sometime after the discussion, I discovered my excuse for holding grudges for this person and others didn’t really hold water.  I had mainly held grudges as a form of vengeance against the party that hurt me, so that they would “feel” my pain and regret their choices. However, I realized what had really happened was I was hurting myself and my relationships with others not even involved in the incident or incidents, and that the guilty party either didn’t care or didn’t know the pain and bitterness I held inside against them!  So, when I forgave this person, the burden of vengeance, anger, and hatred melted away from me.  I was free at last, and today I am much happier, both with this person and those around me, than I ever was before!

Epiphany #3-Don’t worry so much. You cannot control everything, and that’s OK.

This epiphany occurred to me just several days ago, after I had just experienced a stressful week before. I got this epiphany after reading the book, Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety by Elyse Fitzpatrick. People had told me numerous times in my life (even before I became a Christian) not to worry and stress so much, and this is something that I am still learning, despite this epiphany. However, this time I think it is really starting to sink in more.  My type of worry, I must confess, is a defense mechanism for the helplessness I feel because I can’t control my circumstances. I hate uncertainty and not being able to  plan for my future because I am afraid that if I am unprepared I will totally lose control of my emotions and/or well-being. In other words, I won’t cope well with the situation.  However, I realized that no fallible human being can really control their circumstances—that some things are just out of our hands. For instance, there is no way to anticipate when exactly you or a loved one will get sick and/or die, or if there will be traffic accident that will make you late to work.  However, when suffering and trials come, I learned that God will always use that situation to teach me something about myself or others and that He will be with me through it all.  Whether you believe in God or not, you can always learn something from the sufferings of your life, which lessons can be used to make you a better and stronger person.  I realized that even in the unexpected or horrible circumstances of life, that there is always hope and resources that will be given to me that I can use to cope better with the resulting pain and trauma.  For instance, when I have worried about not getting some part of my area straightened on time, I have found that one of these three things usually happen:  a.) I can ask for help from the managers or other associates.  b) Most likely, other people will also not be able to finish their areas, either   c) I will really be able to finish, and that I worried for nothing!

 

All these epiphanies have shaped my life and character in some way.  Having compassion on those with differing beliefs has helped me widen my circle of friends and helped me understand and love the people around me better.  Forgiving others has helped me become less guarded and carry less long-term anger at others.  Learning not to worry so much and letting go of my need to control has freed me from the crippling effects of anxiety and depression and has helped me become more confident in myself and in those around me.  What epiphanies have you had in your life?  What lessons have you learned recently? Please feel free to share in the comments.

 

Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epiphany

How to Find Peace After Betrayal

Disclaimer: Absolutely no disparaging comments about anyone or your comment will be deleted! Also, mild triggers for talk about abuse and bullying.

This is a blog post that I wish I wouldn’t have to write, much less, experience, time and time again in my own life.  I wish people would never have to experience betrayal in their lives. However, even my Savior did, when Judas betrayed Him for a paltry sum of money.

I know many of you have also experienced betrayal—whether it be by a family member, a close friend, a trusted person who held authority over you, or any number or varieties of people.  Many of you are, or were, very angry and hurt by their betrayal.  You may have been blindsided by it, as you did not expect this of them, or you did, but didn’t think it would be you. Whatever the case may have been, I know it can be absolutely very painful and difficult to pick up the pieces and live fully again.  However, we must not let the betrayers in our lives control us or keep us from accomplishing our dreams. Here is what I have learned about how to find peace after betrayal:

First of all, it is absolutely essential that you have or build some type of support for yourself.  –You will not heal very well or quickly if you have to deal with the aftermath of betrayal alone. This is especially true if you have just been abused and/or bullied by someone, and the wounds, whether it be physical and/or emotional, are still fresh.  If you or a loved one has experienced some type of criminal abuse, do not be afraid to report it to the proper authorities—police, attorneys, medical personnel such as therapists and doctors, etc.  The betrayer, as well as their supports, may dissuade, or even threaten you if you report the abuse. Do not be afraid of their threats!.  I know it may be easier said than done, but if you have the power to stop their cycle of abuse, even to the risk of your own life, to me (and to many others), you are a hero or heroine!  This will help others who may be also suffering at your abuser’s hands, and will help the abuser to repent of their actions and stop hurting others.  Besides reporting the abuse, make sure you seek out support for yourself to help you heal from the trauma of the betrayal and/or abuse.  This may include trusted family members, loved ones, friends, and therapists and clergy.  Make sure they will support you and will not either vouch for the abuser or play the devil’s advocate and blame the betrayal and/or abuse on you.  If access to these supports seems nonexistent for you, there are many online groups that support and validate people who have been betrayed and abused by others.  Please contact me privately if you would like to know a few of them that I’m a part.

Second of all, make sure you are having adequate self-care. –When I am betrayed by someone who I thought was trustworthy, I often delve into depression and self-pity. It is also very difficult for me to eat and sleep well, or even be kind to myself, as I tend to blame myself for the betrayal.  I think in order to get out of this pit, one needs a.) adequate outside supports and  b.) good self-talk. Good self-care includes educating yourself on the effects of abuse and betrayal and telling yourself that it is NOT your fault. Because when someone else abuses or betrays you, it is never your fault! That the person even schemed and thought to attack you means that they could have controlled their thoughts and temptations, but they chose not to!  Also, try to be kind to yourself by engaging in hobbies that you love to do. Of course, do not do anything that is against the law or that is not true to your moral beliefs. Doing something you love, should help you find peace and purpose in your life again, and not be held back by the betrayal you experienced.

Also, don’t let your experience of betrayal diminish your love for others. –At least for me, I have found that after I have just been betrayed by someone, I tend to snap at others more easily or even become paranoid of everyone.  I don’t know if this is normal or not, but I have learned that I should not let my experiences color my perceptions of everyone.  Not everyone is like your betrayer, even if it may seem that way.  Remember the betrayer is the one responsible for his or her actions, not everyone else, especially if they had nothing to do with the incident.

Also, continue to cultivate positivity to the other people who didn’t betray you.  Do not hold back your love or kindness from them because of the actions of someone else.  First of all, it is not fair to take out your anger and hurt on them because they did nothing wrong. Second of all, you will ruin the good relationships you have with them.  If you are angry and hurt at someone for betraying you, try to only focus your anger on them, not on everyone else.

Finally, forgive your betrayer.—This does not mean you have to reunite and reconcile with them. I read somewhere that it takes two to reconcile, but only one to forgive.  How true that is!  For instance, even though Jesus forgave the people that cruelly beat and taunted Him, He did not necessarily reconcile with all of them.  Also, though I am willing to forgive people for their betrayal, it does not mean that I will give up my trust so easily to them the next time.  You don’t even have to give your trust to the betrayer ever again.  Not only is it not wise to do that, but, if they haven’t earned back your trust, I learned that you are setting yourself up for more betrayals and heartache, as they will most likely take advantage of you again!

Forgiveness does mean letting go of your anger and bitterness towards them.  This is not for their benefit. I repeat; this is not for the betrayer’s benefit, but for yours!  When you let go of your anger and bitterness against your betrayer, you are, in effect, saying that you will not be tied down to or controlled by them.  You are saying that you let go of the need for avenging yourself, and that you will trust the proper authorities, whether it be police, the law, or God, to make this situation “right”.  You are saying that you move on with your life, and you will not let the betrayer tie you down to pain, anger, or bitterness.  You are saying that your love is stronger than their hate against you!

Betrayal is very painful and difficult to go through, but when one comes out of it and begins to heal, I found that inside of that person comes a very strong, determined, and compassionate person that will shine like the sun and fly like a butterfly.

 

image courtesy of: www.LumoProject.com.

Letting Go of Past Hurts

I know many people who hold onto grudges and the darkness of the past for dear life.  For a long time, I was one of those people.  Sometimes, I still glance at the past darkness, but it no longer affects me as much as it used to, and I am finally healing from the people that have hurt me in the past. Because of so many great people that I am blessed to have in my life, I have learned to let go of many of my past hurts. Here is what I learned in the process, and I am still learning, day by day:

A) Dealing with Past (and Present) Rejection

I have heard of many instances where Person A is rejected by Person B in, let’s say, a long-term friendship, and Person A has a very tough time letting go of Person B.  In some cases, the person being rejected even takes vengeance against the person rejecting them, with deadly consequences.

Being rejected, starting at the tender age of two, at a daycare center, I know how it feels like to not be wanted. I was also often the last to be picked on a sports team, or any group, growing up in school. If I had the attitude of some people in society about being rejected so many times, I would probably be a miserable, cruel person, similar to people who abuse or hurt others regularly.

Thankfully, I learned to let go.  I learned that though rejection is painful, I don’t need a particular person (other than Christ) to make me happy or fulfilled in life.  I learned that people always come and go out of our lives, and that my goal in life is just to make a positive difference in as many people’s lives as possible. If I am only with the same group of people my entire life, yes, we would be very close, but I wouldn’t be able to make as great an impact to the world, as if some of them chose to or had to leave me. Tell yourself, “I can live without them.”

Also remind yourself of your own value and worth, even in the face of rejection. Repeat after me: I am not a less valuable person because someone else fails to see my worth to them.  Truth! Your value does not change based on how popular you are, or how many people love or don’t love you.  You are infinitely valuable, no matter what people say about you. Remember that.

Finally, ask yourself what you can learn in the face of the rejection. If someone rejected you because you did not treat them well, resolve to learn how to treat others better, so you won’t be rejected in that way again. If someone rejected you for superficial or other flimsy reasons,

don’t take that personally. Use that experience as a lesson in how not to treat others.

B)Dealing with Past Hurts

When someone hurts you.—I’m sure almost everyone has experienced someone hurting them in the past. Some of you have even experienced some horrific abuse by the people who were supposed to love and protect you.  For those people, I am sorry, and I hope you will be able to heal from that, at your own pace and timing.  For others of us, however, we may have been hurt emotionally by someone who isn’t even that close to us, but for whatever reason, have not been able to fully let go or forgive them.  This following advice is more for you.

First of all, if I was dealing with someone that hurt me emotionally that didn’t live in my house and was not family (and even if they were family),  I would try to remind myself of all the times that I was shown mercy  when I hurt someone else.  Sometimes, when you are able to put your hurt into perspective, it alleviates the pain a little bit.

Second of all, intentionally strive to be kind to your offender. This is what I did for several people at work when they had hurt me emotionally.  Important to note: You cannot have a “martyr’s” attitude (i.e : the “I guess I’ll be nice so they know how much it costs me” attitude) towards them, otherwise this doesn’t work the way it should.  Being kind to them must be from the heart.  You must have some compassion and love for them, even in your hurt.  What I found when I intentionally tried to be kind to them from my heart, they eventually softened towards me, and in many cases, we were even able to be reconciled to each other!

Another thing that can be useful, especially if you believe in God, is to pray for your offender or offenders.  Praying for them is different from praying against them. Do not pray, for example, that they will get cancer or die. Pray instead for their success in life, their repentance, their joy, and positive things like that.

If you hurt them.—We also all have hurt someone else.  When someone tells you that you have hurt them, or if you know somehow that you have offended someone, seek forgiveness from them. Offer them a contrite and humble apology. Any so-called apology with “but” or “if” in it is not a real apology because it excuses or blames, and does not take full responsibility for one’s actions.  In an apology, never blame the victim. Also, always be willing to do anything you can to restore the situation and make amends for your wrongdoing and hurtful actions.  For instance, if you slandered someone else out of envy, you could try to amend the situation by admitting to all those you bad-mouthed the victim to that you lied about the victim, and asking for forgiveness.  However, if the forgiveness is refused by any of these parties, then you need to let go. Demanding forgiveness is evidence of a proud, unrepentant heart.  Forgiveness must be given freely in order to be genuine.  Don’t try to force it out of someone.

C) Dealing with Fallen Dreams

If I got a U.S dollar for all the dreams that I had for my life, beginning when I was five years old, that failed, I’d probably be pretty rich.  We all have had wishes and goals that never have come to fruition, or plans that have changed.

Several people I know have had their career dreams cut short or been changed by a certain event or events.  I know I have. For instance, when I was a little child, one of my career goals, was to be astronaut. However, that fell on its head when I had to get glasses a few years later. (They don’t allow people to be astronauts who don’t have 20/20 vision, at least, as far as I know.).  Also, when I was in college, I wanted to do something in biology, until I realized that chemistry and physics were required, and they were not my strong suits.

One thing that has helped me deal with these (and other) fallen dreams is to see the good in my current situation. For example, I believe I am able to make more of a difference at my current job as a sales associate, rather than I would as an astronaut with maybe ten other people (max) in the shuttle. Yes, astronauts do make a world of difference still, and I am not discounting that. Rather, I am saying that for me I am better suited in my current job than I would be as an astronaut.

Another thing that has helped me overcome fallen dreams is learning from my mistakes.  For instance, I failed a course in school, but later relearned the concepts again to the point that I would be able to probably pass the course if I had to take it now.

Also, if a lot of your dreams are shattered, sometimes you can get so discouraged that you quit trying. That is what happened to me with driving. Luckily, I found my mentor J that encouraged me to try again. Find someone who will encourage you to persevere, and don’t quit.  Try not to set too lofty goals, at first, but set small, reachable goals, and do whatever it takes to reach them. Be determined and believe that you can accomplish your dreams… because you can!

 

These are the ways that I have let go of my past hurts. Yes, I have been through a lot in my past, and yes I still carry battle (emotional) scars, but my past has only made me a stronger person.  Your past doesn’t have to get in the way of being who you were meant to be.  Letting go may not be easy, but it is worth it.