Lesson 1: It’s not all about me…
The more we focus on ourselves – our looks, our body, our disappointments, our hurts, our failures, and the list goes on and on – the more miserable and unhappy we become.
Regrets… I’ve had a few
I’ve spent my fair share of time disliking different aspects of my looks, wishing I could change things; stewing over my hurts and disappointments – for many years; wishing I’d made different life-choices – and regret, so much regret… until the day I realized that all this was a terrible waste of time and emotional energy, that all this was making me terribly miserable and physically and emotionally sick. I was allowing things that were past and gone to eat me up on the inside and it was showing on the outside.
I can’t let it go
I knew that the Bible tells us that we need to forgive as God forgives us and I had tried to forgive, but the hurts and disappointments would always come back. All it took was one little thought that I allowed my mind to begin dwelling on… and before I knew it I was in full swing, wasting a whole day replaying it all in my mind – this should have happened to me, people shouldn’t treat others this way, I’ve been badly done by and it’s so unfair – and all the old feelings of hurt, tears of disappointment, resentment and anger would come flooding back. I’ve always been one of those people that have to learn everything the hard way and this issue was no different. It took me over a decade to finally come to the point of realizing that hanging onto this stuff was self-defeating and self-destructive behavior. I finally came to see how unforgiveness is soul-destroying. I had become a negative, misery-guts, because I was allowing the past to affect my enjoyment of my current life.
70 times 7?
Just as I had done many times, one day I read the Bible verse where the disciples asked Jesus how many times they should forgive another person – Jesus surprised everyone, instead of saying 2 or 3 times, he said a ridiculous number of times – 70 x 7! But as I read on this day, the words came to life – I actually needed to be living this stuff, no exceptions or excuses!
I think Jesus said this, not only because of how many times God has forgiven us (and continues to forgive), but because God knows how destructive it is for us to hold unforgiveness in our hearts. Unforgiveness will eat you up, make you bitter and cause you to become a toxic person. The person that you hold unforgiveness against is also affected. When we are able to forgive (and we make the choice to forgive, even if we don’t “feel” like forgiving) not only does it set us free, it also sets the other person free. When we make the choice to forgive a weight will lift off our shoulders. Unforgiveness will even make us physically sick! Scientific research shows that it can be an underlying issue in many an illness, including cancer.
I can do it!
I came to the point where I was determined to finally forgive everything. So with much praying and seeking God, one by one as I thought of them, I began to forgive – I actually named the person and the incident and said, “___, I forgive you for ___ and release you from any blame. I hold nothing against you.” This action helped me to finally, truly, forgive. Once I made the decision to forgive, my sick churning stomach went away, as did my skin condition, bad back and my misery. Over a short period of time, I let it all go and I went from being a negative, unhappy person to become an extremely optimistic and happy person. Now I love my life, love people and love God. These days I focus more on what I can do to make the world a better and happier place. After all, it’s not all about me!
I hope you enjoyed the first of 10 lessons life has taught me. Please leave a comment or share your experiences and thoughts. Until next time, wishing you joy and blessings.