Archive for the ‘forgiveness’ Category


September 2, 2022

It’s 3 in the afternoon (15:00). I finished my workout and breakfast and sat down to write at 9. But since it is soccer season and I never know what emergency I may face, I scanned email. Oh, joy! There was a long email sent to the state sports administration. That created all manner of interpersonal conflicts that required a quick response. Then a second one. This soccer season (in its second week) is shaping up as one of conflicts.

The problem? It really boils down to a simple initial personality conflict that expanded to a full-page memo to the state. It needn’t have gotten that far.

How often we offer a quip in a moment that we think is cute or funny. And, how often that quip is received in a manner different from what was intended. And feelings are hurt. And things grow. And now people are not speaking to each other. And now they talk about the other person to third parties. And it grows and grows like mold on your onions in the pantry.

It could have been stopped. I can still see Don Knotts as Deputy Barney Fife in the old Andy Griffith show on one episode where he said, “Nip it in the bud, Andy. That’s it. You gotta nip it in the bud. Nip it in the bud.”

Yes. A lesson for us all. Nip it in the bud. Don’t let it sit and mold and spread disease everywhere. Fix it now.

You Are Blessed

August 25, 2022

What a great way to begin a long session of teaching:

  • You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
  • Your blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the one most dear to you.
  • You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
  • You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
  • You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘carefull’, you find yourselves cared for.
  • You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
  • You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
  • You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s Kingdom.
  • Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

No matter what season of life you are inhabiting right now–you are blessed.

So many of us can only see all the bad things around us. We open “social” media–other people are either parroting misinformation designed to make us feel bad or extolling how great their life is (making us think about how much we are missing). We turn on “news.” It is designed to capture our emotions to keep us tuned in to sell us stuff through advertising. This has been true for many years of the news media. We used to nickname a leading local TV station as “wrecks, rapes, and murders.”

But Jesus says we are blessed.

I think I will sit in contemplation for a bit today and soak in this blessedness. Perhaps tomorrow and the following day, also. Perhaps I can experience what being blessed feels like. Must be good.

Forgive Yourself

December 7, 2020

Seven Things Mindful People Do

  1. Practice being curious
  2. Forgive themselves
  3. Hold their emotions lightly
  4. Practice compassion
  5. Make peace with imperfection
  6. Embrace vulnerability
  7. Understand all things come and go

My mom gave me only glimpses of her life as a child. Fifth of six children, her two older brothers and two older sisters were all confident, strong, outgoing, intelligent people. Mom was talented and intelligent, but she had no confidence. She blamed herself for everything.

Just from observation, I believe that of myself and my three brothers, two of us overcame that upbringing and two didn’t. I know that it took me years.

Failure to forgive yourself, especially for imagined wrongs and shortcomings, but also for sins of omission and commission, can easily destroy a life. And the lives of those around you.

As we sit in meditation and prayer daily, we learn to look at ourselves from a different perspective. We can see those things for which we need to make amends–call that person we injured or pay back that debt; we can also see those things for which we need to just let go. Let go of the attachment to the guilt and set ourselves free. We recognize it and then realize that it is all past and all we can to is release and come back to live in just the present.

Practicing Forgiveness

May 6, 2019

To forgive the incessant provocations of daily life – to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son – how can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night, “Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

C.S. Lewis reminds us of a fundamental spiritual formation practice. The practice of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is core to most, if not all, of the religions I have studied. Yet, practitioners often manage to subvert the practice. They draw circles around favored types of people and deny forgiveness to those outside their circle of favorites.

Maybe you have read about how we should practice forgiveness. But the scope of the problem looks overwhelming.

I’m looking out my front window at a Magnolia bush. Its branches send shoots of new branches seemingly at random. It needs to be pruned. There are so many, the work seems overwhelming. Then I adjust my insight and realize that focusing on just clipping one shoot at a time more quickly than I realize gets the job done.

We cannot forgive the entire world. That’s overwhelming. But we focus first on ourselves, then on our versions of “the bossy mother-in-law, bullying husband, nagging wife, selfish daughter, deceitful son…” One at a time. Who in your life needs to be your first shoot?


January 18, 2019

How often should I forgive someone?

Peter the apostle in training thought he’d show Jesus that he was learning. He thought most people might say once. Or maybe twice. Peter thought, how about seven times. That should be lots.

But Jesus the sage and master always raised the bar to impossible heights.

Seventy times seven, he replied.

When I lead the Yoga class and I want to do six Sun Salutations to finish warmup, I often lose count.

Do you think I could remember seven times forgiveness?

How about 77 times (some translations) or 490 times (other translations)?!

Some teachers riff off this theme and try to add qualifications and complex psychological theories. Do not do that.

Jesus is describing a lifestyle. A way of living from the heart. And the heart is forgiving at all times.

Can People Change To Improve

June 28, 2018

Do you believe people can change?

It’s a simple question with tons of meaning.

Surely if you are a Christian, you should answer, “Yes!”

But how many Christians would answer no? Or, answer no to certain groups or types of people?

Tim Ferriss is a famous author of such books (I recommend) as 4 Hour Workweek, Tools of the Titans, and Tribe of Mentors.

Tim also has a podcast. You can find it on Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes), Stitcher, or my favorite Overcast. In the latest episode, he interviews three men in a maximum security prison. Two are in for gang-related murder and one for armed robbery. Their stories of life in prison, what got them there, and how they have changed for the better are moving and encouraging. I urge you to listen even though it is more than an hour.

I believe that people can, and do, change.

God loves each and every one of us humans no matter where we were born or what we look like or what our disability is. Usually we just need the right mentor at the right time.

Give Us The Capacity For Extending Grace

June 16, 2017

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Not every person is emotionally healthy.

Not every person is responsible.

People do and say thoughtless, hurtful, things  all the time. Sometimes directly to us. Sometimes we just read about it. Sometimes the incident is so vivid that we live it vicariously.

Can we extend grace?

God extended grace to us. We did not deserve it. We have it. Dangling right there before us.  Only to be acknowledged.

Can we also as disciples of Jesus, as one of those who seek to be like our master, can we also extend grace?

It is hard.

It requires humility.

It requires being firmly in the spirit.

Can we extend grace?

To those who hurt us.

To those with whom we disagree.

To those who are different from us.

A Place of Second Chances

May 18, 2017

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but in America newspapers love to dredge up stories of past failures and sins of everyone they write about. If someone gets a new position with local visibility, you’re sure to read about the parking ticket they received 15 years ago. And especially worse misdeeds.

But in conversations, do we like to dwell on what others have done wrong in their past?

Do we forget that we all have done things–great and small–that we shouldn’t have? A stream of images just flashed through my consciousness of things I’m not proud of.

Are we willing to let it rest?

As a church fellowship, are we willing to admit people with a past? After all, that would be all of us.

When do we move on? When do we stop bringing up the past and live in the present moment?

We all need something of the Alcoholics Anonymous foundation–I screwed up, I recognize it, I own it, I’m living a new life one day at a time with the support of others.

We need to be the “others” lending support, not reminding everyone of the past.

It’s all part of our spiritual growth.

Forgive The Other Person First

July 25, 2016

My wife had a question. She received a devotional email. It quoted C.S. Lewis. “We believe that God forgives us our sins; but also that He will not do so unless we forgive other people their sins against us.” It is strongly worded that way in the Lord’s Prayer, said Lewis.

We believe that God forgives us our sins; but also that He will not do so unless we forgive other people their sins against us.

In the first place, she was raised a Baptist. They taught you didn’t memorize prayers. You “prayed from the heart.” So, remembering all the Lord’s Prayer isn’t necessarily easy for her.

My thought was that Lewis was denying the forgiveness of sins that comes along with salvation. That didn’t sound like Lewis.

We decided that Lewis wasn’t talking about that. But he was talking on a practical, day-to-day level about our interaction with other people.

And forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors.

We looked at the phrase. I said, first off this is a petition. Jesus is telling us we can petition God to forgive all the things we have done wrong.

But, said  Jesus, first we have already forgiven our debtors. Look at the order of the words. We ask God to forgive us in the same manner in which we have already forgiven those who have wronged us.

Do we forget that part of the equation? Do we just jump in and ask for forgiveness without considering the other part? Is it all about us?

Actually, do we really ask for forgiveness at all?

Psychologists would call this emotional maturity. God would point to spiritual growth.