Archive for November, 2012
What do you recommend when someone is obviously mentally ill and they spread rumors about you to the family? I have a relative in another state who has been telling my nephews that I have a compulsive gambling problem. I have never gambled in my life. Do I forgive? I wonder because this relative does not seem to be doing something deliberately wrong, given the mental illness.
Whether the intent is deliberate or not, the outcome is hurtful and so, yes, I think it is legitimate to forgive. Knowing that the person has a mental illness, and I do not want to venture a speculation about what it is, should make it easier to forgive. We have to keep in mind that even if a personality disorder of some kind is involved here, there still is free will at least to a degree. In other words, even with most mental illnesses the person can choose to express himself or herself in a variety of ways. For some reason, this relative has chosen condemnation and has chosen you. That is forgivable.
On Thursday, November 22, 2012, people in the United States celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving. It is a time of fellowship and cultivating thankful hearts for loved ones. In the United States, the holiday goes back to 17th century celebrations in which settlers from England gave thanks to God for a bountiful harvest.
I am aware that many who visit our website reside in other areas of the world in which Thanksgiving is not celebrated…..but let us not be hindered by such a little detail.
On Thursday, regardless of your country of residence, may I suggest that we all cultivate a thankful heart toward at least one person who has wronged us, toward whom we may have some resentment and bitterness? I am not asking you to be thankful for the wrong-doing. Instead, I am asking you to see the person from a wide-angle lens. See him or her as a person, someone who is more than what was done to you. Try to see something good in the person, a kind act, or a loving word, or some small attempt at compassion toward another. See that goodness and be thankful that the person engaged in it. See the person as a person, capable of good will, as someone who can act unjustly and can show goodness even if the bad and the good are not evenly matched.
Be thankful for the goodness that you see or remember and in being thankful for the act, be thankful for the person.
I am thankful to each of you who will do this. You are making the world a better place by this little act of love.
Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN – In 1973, Marietta Jaeger Lane’s 7-year-old daughter, Susie, was kidnapped from her tent in the middle of the night on a family camping trip to Montana. It was not until a year later that the kidnapper was caught and confessed, not just to killing Susie, but to the murders of three other children. Lane visited the man in jail, just before he hanged himself. He was 26.
After finally being able to bury Susie on a beautiful October afternoon in 1974, Lane drove to the home of the man’s mother.
“I wanted to tell her I had forgiven David, the David she knew who cut her lawn and took her shopping,” she said. “We just held each other and wept, two mothers who had lost their children.”
Lane has since become a sought-after speaker on forgiveness.
“You have every right to your initial rage and grief,” says Lane, the mother of four adult children. “Forgiveness takes daily, diligent discipline. It’s not for wimps. But hatred isn’t healthy. Forgiveness sets us free.”
Read more about Lane’s forgiveness work in “One Woman’s Path to Forgive Unforgiveable”
With the holidays coming up, I am feeling depressed. Family conflicts stress me out. My brother, who is coming in from another state, and I just do not get along. What do you suggest? I really do not like being so civil when I am not feeling that way inside.
The holiday time can be stressful for many people because of past memories and current conflicts. I suggest that you start a daily exercise of forgiving your brother for little things, those that can make you irritable. Try to take one small incident at a time and work on the process of forgiveness as outlined??in the “Need to Forgive?” section of our website. More detailed advice is in the book, The Forgiving Life.
Our most recent Forum discussion for adults addresses this issue of forgiving the small things.
With daily practice in forgiveness, you likely will be more ready to meet and interact positively with your brother.
Sophia: And which is the most excellent way among civility, respect, and moral love as your basis for forgiving others?
Inez: This one is easy to answer and hard to implement. Moral love encompasses civility and respect in its response and so is the most complete. Civility is the least demanding and also the least complete. I can be civil and rather detached from a person. I can even be civil without respecting the person. Even respect does not go far enough. I can respect a person who is homeless by writing out a check to the soup kitchen. That is a somewhat detached way to treat someone who is deeply suffering. Yet, if I love another, I not only must be civil and respectful, I must be more than that. In the soup-kitchen example, I must be personal with the homeless person by going to the shelter, dipping the ladle into the soup, and serving that person. Moral love asks the most of me.
Sophia: How then do you understand moral love?
Inez: It is different from romantic love or brotherly love or the natural love between a mother and her child. It is the kind of love that “goes to the wall” for the other by being in service to him or her without burning yourself out, of course. That would hardly be love if I destroyed myself in the process. I think it is a paradox. As I become personal with another for her good, I can and do experience a kind of refreshment.