Thursday, December 2, 2010

Letting It Go

It is very difficult to remain consistently thankful and hold a grudge. A pattern of gratitude and positive thinking in a person's life requires a continual letting go of offenses. Each day carries with it a plethora of opportunities to be offended. Some are minor while others are more significant. Regardless of the magnitude of offense we immediately have the choice to hold on to it or to let it go. When we hold on to it we become anxious, our blood pressure rises and our spirits tend to plummet while our thanksgiving goes out the window. The longer we muse on the hurt or wrong, the more turbulent our lives become and the greater the chance for bitterness and cynicism to get a foothold in our hearts. Letting go of the offense robs negativity of its hold on us. There is almost always an initial processing of the crisis but the sooner we make the choice to dismiss our need to be justified, the sooner our peace returns and we are better for it. There is another word for this; it's called forgiveness.

This is often a very difficult thing to do. and it is almost never something that we initially find pleasant. Forgiving does not mean I condone what was done to me; its simply means I'm choosing to relinquish my need for retribution. We do this not because the person who wrongs us deserves it, but because failing to forgive does nothing but steal our joy and peace of mind. Craig Scott, the brother of Rachel Scott who was murdered in the Columbine shootings, was interviewed several years after the event. He told the reporter that he was miserable and could not seem to rise above his grief until he learned to forgive his sister's killers. "When I did," he said, "I found that forgiveness is like setting a prisoner free then realizing that you were the prisoner." What a wonderful description. To fail to forgive is to continue to be hurt by the offense; and that is no one's doing but our own. When this happens we may find that the biggest enemy of our thankfulness is us. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Importance of Attitude

What does it mean to be thankful? Thankfulness carries with it an innate understanding that life is a gift to be treasured. We are born into this world with nothing and when we die, we leave this world with nothing. The quality of the time spent between those two events depends largely on our attitude. My father taught me that you often can't choose the things that come your way in life but you can always choose the attitude you greet those things with. Life is filled with choices and those who succeed are not the ones who have never had problems, made mistakes, or experienced painful times. Rather, they are the ones who have looked into the face of those problems, mistakes and painful times and said, "I will learn from you. I will grow and not be defeated." Those who succeed are those who take nothing for granted and understand that everything they have has been given to them by God. They realize that in the hard circumstances in life there are lessons to be learned and that nothing is wasted if we learn to face it with thankfulness.

"Men ask for a rainbow in the clouds, but I would ask more from Thee. I would be in my cloud, myself a rainbow - to minster to others' joy." - George Matheson