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Monday, December 28, 2015

"And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:32

The world often equates forgiveness to weakness. However, forgiveness is actually a testament to your spiritual maturity. Resentment and anger are debilitating emotions that cause your life to stand still. Growth happens in sunshine, if you allow negative emotions to cloud your life and judgement, you will not bloom into the full expression of who you are. There are four keys to living a life of forgiveness.

1) Take Responsibility
2) Give Compassion
3) Choose Forgiveness
4) Release It

In situations where we feel victimized we play the "blame game" and attribute our pain to someone else. If we take the time to look at the situation with complete honesty we can see how our choices contributed to the situation. Once we take responsibility for our actions a veil is lifted. We stop making the other person a villain, and we stop labeling ourselves as victims. Taking responsibility for our choices provides a platform for us to move forward with our next step.

Over the years God has helped me develop my level of compassion through different experiences with friends and family members. What I have come to learn is that most of the time the things people do to us are a direct reflection of how they see themselves. Once you truly grasp this concept an awareness develops and your heart opens up. The person who tried to hurt you is in such despair that the only way to express that despair was by taking it out on you. When people are hurting our natural inclination is to help them. You can extend that same concern to the different people in your life. An elderly lady falling in the street is no different from the rude neighbor that lives next door, or the overly critical boss at work who seems to have it out for you. Extend compassion to the people that hurt you because they are fighting a battle within themselves.

Forgiveness is not based on your emotions. I repeat, if you wait until you feel like forgiving someone to express that forgiveness through action you will probably never forgive anyone. The "Do Good Be Good" principle was coined by psychologist Timothy D. Wilson in his book Redirect. The principle was inspired by Aristotle's quote on moral excellence.

"Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by brave acts." - Aristotle

In order to forgive someone you have to choose to express that forgiveness in an active manner even when your emotions are telling you something different. Once you continue this process you will see your emotions align with your action, because it is our thoughts that control our emotions, not the other way around.

The final step towards forgiveness is to release the situation. Forgiveness comes from the Greek word Aphesis, meaning to "pardon, release from bondage or imprisonment". You have to release the situation so that you can release yourself from the negative energy surrounding the situation. If you don't you run the risk of keeping yourself in bondage and Christ came so that we could be free. It is only fair that we extend that freedom to others.

EXERCISE: Write a letter to someone or something that has caused you pain. Express how the situation affected you. End the letter by telling the person or situation that they have your forgiveness. You may choose to give this person the letter or you may choose to keep it to yourself. This exercise will help you get out your negative emotions and begin the process towards forgiveness. Share your thoughts and letters in the comments section or email them to me if you like!

Miracles and Blessings to you all!!!

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