Posts Tagged God
Sitting at my desk, as the Northeastern autumn dump melted around me, sipping orange spice, I thought about what really makes me happy. The last few weeks have been filled with a blur of new information and potential. I spent last weekend with 450 women searching for revelation about their lives; a pathway to peace; an opportunity to hear what God is longing to share with them about their destinies –a venue to in which to grow. Earlier this week I spoke with several potential colleagues about an interesting job opportunity – unexpected, yes, but the timing is impeccable. This weekend overflowed with fellowship – nothing is quite like extended time with friends who know how to encourage you and speak the absolute truth when you really need it.
So what does this all have to do with happiness? A new friend recently wrote a thoughtful piece about the crossroads in life and how he had come to one, or rather, another one, in his life. He commented that he envied people who seemed to make life-changing choices by instinct rather than struggling to let go and make a choice to move on or stay. Considering this, I reflected on the past year and the painful choices I’d had to make. It was difficult to let go of a dream, of expectations, of promises, but the hesitation to ‘move’ or make a decision is often about the discomfort there is in change rather than the inability to decide. In my life, I find that when I’m stuck in that holding pattern, so to speak, eventually a catalyst of some sort will present itself and then I am forced to make the decision I wanted to make all along.
Once I moved, so many possibilities presented themselves it was almost overwhelming. That said, choosing a path does not solve all the problems or answer all questions. Nothing is ever that straightforward and choosing is just the beginning of the work. Through the hard work – answering the uncomfortable questions about how our lives are lived and who we are, choosing the healing over sickness – flows the happiness, the peace, and the genuine connection with inner selves and others.
Reflection does have its pitfalls. Chatting with a close friend on the subject, he questioned how I would be handling this new crossroad in my life. Really, I thought, what on earth was he talking about? Things were progressing swimmingly. I had never been happier in my life! I’d survived an unpleasant divorce, a career change, and a severe financial crisis this year. He was obliged to point out several looming issues that needed attention and I begrudgingly agreed with his assessment. I guess there will be more work after all. The crossroads were starting to look more like navigating the rapids of class IV river.
So what really makes me happy? That is where I began after all. Possibilities, potential, not living on auto-pilot between the ‘crossroads’ but living intentionally and doing the hard work, being honest about what makes me happy and the values that make me who I am. It’s not the easy way to go, but embracing the crossroads – stretching emotionally – will offer an opportunity for greater peace and happiness.
For another view on the crossroads in life @ www.prestonehrler.com, “Letting Go, To Move On.”
I believe that anger stifles creativity. Maybe other artists have created great works fueled by passionate feelings, but anger builds a wall in me where I cannot reach anything imaginative or creative. The dictionary defines anger as “a feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong.” I think anger is a condition of helplessness seared with fury and injustice; something that can only be resolved by forgiveness.
Several weeks ago, I had one those experiences that while it’s actually happening, you feel as if you’re outside events observing the process. Someone important in my life did something that hurt me and made me angry. Not wanting to waste time sulking, I told this person how I felt and mentioned that an apology would clear the air. Though this person listened to what I had to say, no comments or apology were forthcoming.
So the scenario I’d hoped to avoid became reality. I tried to carry on with my activities as if nothing had happened, but every time I put pen to paper my thoughts immediately strayed back to the encounter. After many frustrating hours of producing next-to-nothing, I knew that needed to become proactive. I felt there were three courses of action I could take.
1) Retaliate – A popular option for some, but would only breed more negativity and goes against my life scripture – Ephesians 4:29 – Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.
2) Become Depressed – All my life I’ve heard it said that depression is anger turned inwards. Been there, done that. Not a happy place. Too difficult to encourage people from there.
3) Forgive – The most affirmative of the choices, but also the most difficult. Why? Because I would have to let go of the feelings in me that claimed the person that hurt me still owed me something.
I chose forgiveness. This is the process that helped me bring down the wall.
1) Letting go – I had to consider – was I holding onto the anger because I believed the hurtful comments might actually be true? Yes! I had to remind myself the reality is that there are only two people who get to determine the truth about who and what I am – me & God. No one else should have that power.
2) Affirmation – With that in mind, I considered exactly who I am – God’s words and the truths that I know about myself. This process shrunk the insult to a much less threatening size.
3) Forgiveness – the actual act of it. No, I didn’t go back to that person and say ‘I forgive you,’ but I did utter those words many times during the day as I ‘prayed unceasingly’ for peace and for understanding.
Did it work? Absolutely. It does every time. How long it takes depends on how long I choose to hold on to the words and actions of others. In this situation, it was about a day before I was writing again. And it wasn’t long before I was peaceful enough to consider working on that particular relationship with a clear head that wasn’t focused just on getting what I needed.