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Forgiveness Work, Once You Start It Never Ends


forgiveness work

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The hardest part about forgiveness work is knowing where to stop. And when.


If life is spinning out of control and you’re grasping for a line, a branch, a helping hand, forgiveness may not be the first thing on your mind. Hard to forgive anything with the roof crashing down and the floor breaking apart.


Standing tall isn’t a solution, neither is standing proud when you can barely get up before taking the next dive.


Hope and prayer and faith take a backseat to survival. At least that’s what you hear from others in their safe places.


Hope for the best. Don’t lose hope. Hope all is well. Those sweet tidings sound like the right thing to say. But do they resonate with the intended audience?


Pray for the afflicted. Send prayers. Let prayer guide you. Where does praying end up when the most reverent among us offer silence instead?


Be ever faithful. Keep the faith. Make faith a priority. In a room full of pious, of competing faith, which voice finds it’s mark?


Consider forgiveness work on those who spread false hope, empty prayer, and turn faith into a commodity. If that’s the best you have to offer, do it.


Forgive those who share hope with conditions no one can meet. Hope you find your way, as long as it leads somewhere else, is a common theme. Like giving homeless people bus tickets out of town.


Hope a peaceful demonstration stays that way, but keep a platoon of riot geared troopers in reserve.


As long as you’re surrounded by people just like you, hope for the best. They don’t need it, but if it makes you feel better?


Encountering hope, real hope, isn’t part of forgiveness work. People going against all odds, dreamers who never give in, make hope real. If they can do the impossible, what’s keeping anyone else back?


The world has forgiven the evils of WWII, but similar acts still occur. Trying to stretch your mind around the possibility of the same evil still lurking in fellow man is hard forgiveness work.


Spiritual leaders with their faces clenched in fierce prayer one moment, yet turning a blind eye to suffering the next, deserve forgiveness. They may know what they do, but it’s not helping you while you work to understand.


Finally it comes down to faith, personal faith, your faith in creating a better world after you’re gone. A better world? Not that there’s anything wrong with the world we’ve got, but come on man, it needs a little help now and then.


Start with kindness.


That line in the sand you draw on every person, every issue, every dispute? The line where you stand on one side and give the finger to anyone on the other? Stop with the line drawing and the big F U. The world doesn’t expect you to go all in on everything. Start with kindness and you’ll be surprised where it takes you.


People living under threats of violence from bad leaders, or underwater from natural disaster, or under crushing anxiety from a life gone wrong? If you could tell them to buck up, move away, or snap out of it, just don’t. Start with kindness and mindfulness. You don’t know how you’d react in the same situation until you get there.


When you look across the globe, or across the street, and notice people are all different? It’s not a reason to hate on them, be afraid of them, or chase them off.


Maybe you’ve had this experience: I live near a police recognized drug house. I call it a drug house, the police called it ‘meth friendly’ when they showed up in force one day with guns out and dogs.


Possible suppliers and customers park their cars on my street, outside my windows.


Yesterday a new beat to hell car was out there with a dog barking inside. I checked it out. The window was down. Beer cups and cigarette butts lay on the ground. Later in the day the driver wandered up from the drug house, dragging themselves to the car door and let the dog out.


The owner/driver looked lost and confused, like some of the guys my old neighbor hired on his framing crew after a weekend of meth. When I asked the old neighbor why some of his crew zombie-walked he told me, “Sometimes it takes them from Monday until Wednesday to remember how to measure right.”


The person with the dog had the same aimless walk. They opened and shut the car doors, opened the trunk and dug around. Later in the day they put something on the roof and left it there all night.


While they’re not ideal temporary neighbors, if they fell down from an overdose I’d still need to call 911 and check them out if I saw them drop. The idea of helping them didn’t appeal to me, but that’s the drill, of being human.


Could I hope the best for them, send them prayers, and close the blinds? Sure I could, but that’s not something I’d forgive myself for. My faith in man says help someone dying in front of me.


This isn’t an act explained by non-denominational clergy, rabid zealots, or cult leaders; not a reaction based on race, color, or creed. It’s just kindness.


Showing a little heart, giving a little care, won’t leave you with less, but more.


Start small and work your way up the kindness ladder. The first step in the biggest: start forgiveness work on yourself.
About David Gillaspie


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