Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Our Inner Character

A very special friend of mine had written me something I needed to read:

Looking back, may I be filled with gratitude;
Looking forward, may I be filled with hope;
Looking upward, may I be aware of strength;
Looking inward, may I find peace. ~Author unknown

Sometimes, I find myself surrounded by those who wreak havoc on my emotions. Maybe it’s the way I internalize things, events and situations? Maybe it’s the way I process it all? As I try to resolve and find solutions for anything that has gone wrong in my life, my ‘opponents’ seem to dwell and seek further turmoil and drama. I’m not sure why.

Are there people who seem to be attracted to complicated situations or drama? If they don’t have the excitement of arguments or conflicts, do they find themselves lost in a world of silence? I always try to understand how the human mind works. I mostly try to understand how my own mind works. Some would say I easily blow off the ‘big things’---the things that need more attention or focus on. When it’s a matter of resolving an issue, regarding an argument or something that has been done that needs forgiveness, I am very quick to forgive as well as forget. People around me don’t understand that. They seem to think that I just don’t care or blow things off way too easily.

For instance, if an argument over something escalates, and the person apologizes, I simply forgive it and forget it. I actually delete it from my mind, instead of just saying the words, “It’s ok, I forgive you,” and then torture myself by focusing on the very event that the person apologized for; forgiving genuinely. If I still had issues about it, I would bring it up to the table and try to resolve it. Simple. But, others would say that I’m too quick to blow things off as if I didn’t care. I do care. Forgiveness is the key to a healthy state of mind and the answer to a healthy heart.

Being grateful. Like I always say, life’s a huge learning process. I learn as I go. I am grateful for every single argument, event, or negative situation that has happened in my life, because I learned a great deal from it all. If it weren’t for the rocky times in our lives, how would we know how to cope with the future ones?

Hope. I have hope, that the past events in our lives will develop more endurance, patience and tolerance for when we find ourselves in future turmoil. It’s almost like exercise- you learn how to cope with each encounter.

Strength. Going through many trials and tribulations, we’ll find ourselves stronger and more adaptable for when we run into other troubles. We’ll learn how to face our problems with a bigger muscle---a stronger heart----and a way to forgive and to let go. Some people have a hard time letting go of certain things- when in fact, they’re only harming themselves.

Peace. Isn’t this the final goal? We all want peace. Where do we find it? We can’t find it externally, because all around us we have conflicts, life challenges and turmoil. We can learn to process our problems internally first, to soften our hearts and make others realize that it’s all a matter of forgiveness; genuine forgiveness.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” ~Romans 5:3-5

We all make mistakes, but we can learn from them and soften our hearts the next time around. Forgiveness goes hand-in-hand with forgetting. It’s a pair that shouldn’t be torn apart.


Nancy said...

Deb, I love this post. Forgiveness is freedom...and the hardships we endure DO make us stronger for the next ones around the corner. What a great reminder there's hope in times of darkness.

Art said...

Great post Deb. I wish I could "forgive and forget" but sometimes I find that forgetting part extraordinarily challenging.

~Deb said...

Nancy: Thank you… Forgiveness is freedom! Whenever I forgive someone, or something that has happened, and just let it go and give it all to God, it usually subsides and doesn’t fester within my heart. I completely forget about it and wonder what the argument or conflict was altogether. Does that mean I’m insensitive? To some it does…but I don’t think so.

Art: That’s totally normal. There are certain situations that we sometimes can’t get out of our minds… I do understand that…but to move forward and progress, we should at least try. Thanks, Art!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to wish you a Happy Halloween, in the name of Satan. >=)

- Grant


forgive and forget.ahh so difficult.
Peace:one needs to forgive and forget to find the inner peace.

~Deb said...

Thanks Grant! Long time buddy!

Desparado: Simple to say the words, difficult to actually put it into action, right? Thanks!

Enemy of the Republic said...

Grant! Where is my satanic wish? Damn you to hell!

I just made him so happy.

Today I got in an argument with a coworker who said that people worry too much about what they feel and if he was in charge, he would tell everyone that their emotions are simply irrelevant. I was astounded. I said that he couldn't deny what makes up an intrinsic part of human nature, uncomfortable as they may be. He said: They don't belong in the workplace. I answered: Not even happiness, joy in your acheivements, compassion for others when they need help? When someone is in that much denial, they must have emotional overload.

Good post. And tell Grant to visit it or I will sick one of the GOOD angels on him and make him go to a Southern Baptist church!

CP said...

Toxic personalities. Stay away from them. They make you feel horrible...


Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the infinite peace to you.

(a very ancient Celtic blessing)

Tai said...

Deb, I have to say that I admire your ability to put yourself out there so much.
All your posts are so thoughtful and full and I really find myself appreciating that you are constantly and consistently true to what you believe and how you feel about it.
So, thanks.
It's really a pleasure having found your blog so long ago (before and through the Dani issues!) and I always read with make me think.
My blog is more light, less me and more general...I occasionally wish that I had the heart/guts/nerve/trust to put myself out there more, but I guess that's just not my blogging way.
Keep on. It's great.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog. I don't even know how I stumbled on it but have been reading it for a few months. Your writing is awesome and I went back and read some past stories that were great. I have to tell you the pic and blog on the computer and tech from India was so so true. It is frustrating beyond words to have to deal with someone that way and yeah i did the same thing...what? excuse me? i don't understand..and then I am thinking yeah right your name is Mike. Mac may be getting both of us soon. Love, a blog fan

Sue said...

It is so hard to rid yourselves of the toxic personalities in your life especially if they are in someone you love or in their families. I have to forgive more than any sane person should have to and I find it harder and harder to remain pleasant in their presence but you are does feel good to forgive -- I find forgetting is the hard part :(

Lisa said...

Deb, this was a great post. I really needed to hear it. Take care and God bless!

~Deb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~Deb said...

Please excuse the impersonal response. I like to answer each and every one of you. I’m exhausted today due to toxic personalities that literally drain me of everything I have. And that’s the perfect description for it, isn’t it? Toxic. I made a vow today that no longer will I surround myself, or keep company with those who are toxic. I’ve come to the point where the people who seem sincere, are sometimes not showing all their true colors. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, however, sometimes you have to know when enough is enough.

I had to say goodbye to a friend yesterday. That should explain much.

Thank you for all the great comments and kind words. I really appreciate the input and your readership.

God bless!

Queenie said...

Debs your post is so true but hard to do. My thoughts are with you at this difficult time. I have been away for a while and was just checking in ((((hugs))))

GW Mush said...

Hi Deb,

Thankfully our relationship isnt toxic, we are made for each other Deb! hehe

kathi said...

Very little someone could do to me that I haven't done to others or to myself at one time or another. Can't expect forgiveness when I can't forgive.
There were those that made Christ mad and yet He died for them. You don't have to like someone (or their ways) to love them.

~Deb said...

Forgiveness is easy for me to do. Sometimes, I need to let that person go, in order to remain healthy---emotionally. I have come across a toxic person who has literally beaten me up emotionally. I need to let that person go, because it’s such a dark feeling. She brings out the worst in me. I love this person---still----but I love myself as well, to where I need to walk away from it all. People who are manipulating, who lie constantly and who have an agenda to inflict pain upon me have no room in my life.

She has my forgiveness, she has my ability to forget in due time, but she has lost me in the process. I pray for her and wish her well.

I admit, I'm not perfect by any means. My life is still under construction and I know that God's not done with me yet...however, it's unhealthy to be surrounded by people who can only project negative energy.

Letting go is the best thing. Forgiving and forgetting goes hand-in-hand with the process too.

channelofhealing said...

Praise God Deb... we are surrounded daily by deceitful people and the part that aches me most is when they knowingly string you along in their lies and deceit hoping to make a fool of you in the end which is rather unfortunate but thank God for making ways for us where there seems to be no way in this life.
there is no need getting mad at people just Pray get the load of your chest by talking to God in Prayer.
Godbless you my dear

Clarence said...

Not surprisingly (to me anyway), I am beginning to see some of me in you! It's gotta be that homo gene. Aren't you glad they haven't found a real cure for what ails us?!?! ;-)

Not sure if it's a blessing or a curse, but all my life, I have had such a hard time holding a grudge! I, too, forgive so easily! As for forgetting, I am the champ in that department! I've even forgotten all the I've forgotten in my life! ;-)

For me, though, it's simple: holding a grudge (even what I consider a righteous grudge) takes so much energy! The same way that hating someone takes so much energy, and I'm just too lazy! I don't want to spend my time concentrating on that thing that has created the grudge or the potential hate in the first place! I really need to be about the work of getting my life going into a positive direction! To paraphrase the Carly Simon song, "I haven't got time for the grudge; I haven't got room for the hate; I haven't the need for the pain"! (Are you like me? Do you wonder why Carly Simon doesn't have a VERY successful career as a motivational songstress?!?! ;-)

I think at least part of the reason, for me anyway, that I can't get a good grudge on is that I have been amazingly imperfect with my own life & my own interpersonal relationships, so not only do I NOT "have time for the pain," I don't have any room to hold back forgiveness when I am almost always in desperate need of it myself!

I won't ramble about it now, but I've learned that forgiveness of someone else's real or perceived wrongs is actually a gift you give to yourself because you can release the poison it has brought into your life & you can get on with the rest of your life (and, don't forget, kiddies, forgiveness DOESN'T NECESSARILY MEAN "excusing"), so actually, in a sense, not holding a grudge is a pretty selfish thing...but, as her majesty, Queen Martha of Stewart would say, "that's a good thing!"

Thank you AGAIN, Deb, for making me think about important stuff. It's quite therapeutic!


Clarence said...

Isn't it amazing how God can find some use for the pain in our lives?

I am beginning to understand that sometimes in our voyage on this planet, our life experiences will just not yield the beautiful harvest we hope to reap. Sometimes, in the ugliness & the pain we are sure to encounter in our lives every now & again, all we get is a lesson: if we're fortunate enough, we remember to write that lesson down in our hearts & keep it at the ready for the next time it happens--and it probably WILL happen again!

In that vein, I remember once, while in the depths of despair that marked my "life" in the closet, crying out to God & asking why I had to hurt so much & why I had to feel so very alone & scared. I distinctly remember an answer coming to me as soon as those words came out of my mouth, "Because a lesson that is learned in pain is not easily forgotten!" I guess the scar those painful lessons leave stand as a (hopefully) permanent reminder of what we need to avoid next time.

I also feel the need to share a scene from one of my most favorite movies ever, "Beaches" (yes, I know, typical for a gay guy to love a Bette Midler movie. So, this ONE TIME, the stereotype is correct...GUILTY AS CHARGED!! ;-). Anyway in the movie, CC gets married to her director boyfriend, John & at the ceremony, the bride & groom kiss & then CC slaps John right after the kiss. John asks CC why she slapped him & she says that she wants him to remember this moment for the rest of his life! Wow! Isn't that amazing?!?! I know, comparing Bette Midler to God could be seen by some as blasphemy, but, hey, for some of us, Bette truly is heavenly!!

Also, I can't help but think that (selfish as it sounds) if your life had been perfect & drama-free & pain-free, you wouldn't be here now sharing your pain & your love with those of us who have felt too alone for too long where the family of God is concerned. You gotta know that God is using you & your former brokenness to help those of us not quite as far along on the journey as you are!

Another quote for you & about you (in my opinion, anyway), dearest Deb, from Mr. Ernest Miller Hemingway, "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places."

I guess brokenness & scars aren't really all they seem, are they?


Just_because_today said...

interesting that you talk about forgive and forget which is what I questioned on your 04/16/09 post. It is a pair that can't be torn apart, you are right