Homework to Help
Guarding against your own false accusations against yourself is very important. At the same time, please add the practice of being gentle with yourself. By this I mean, try to foster a sense of quiet within, an acceptance of yourself within. Try to respond inwardly to yourself as you would toward someone whom you love deeply. In other words, allow yourself to be imperfect and when you are, please guard against a harsh inner voice that condemns. You have been wounded and so you need that sense of self-acceptance in all aspects of your life right now.
The next time you make an error, be aware of how you are talking to yourself internally. Check to see if you are using the inner-whip against yourself and then stop this immediately. Instead, please turn to this: I am wounded inside. I do not need another wound, especially one that is inflicted from within. It is time to be gentle with myself.
To grow in any virtue is similar to building muscle in the gym through persistent hard work. We surely do not want to overdo anything, including the pursuit of fitness. Yet, we must avoid underdoing it, too, if we are to continue to grow. It is the same with forgiveness. We need to be persistently developing our forgiveness muscles as we become forgivingly fit. This opportunity is now laid out before you. What will you choose? Will you choose a life of diversion, comfort, and pleasure, or the more exciting life of risking love, challenging yourself to forgive, and helping others in their forgiveness fitness?
Enright, Robert D. (2012-07-05). The Forgiving Life (APA Lifetools) (Kindle Locations 5359-5360). American Psychological Association. Kindle Edition.
As you meet people today, please look at each one and say to yourself, “This particular person is probably wounded in some way. He (she) is not showing the wounds, but is trying to get through the day with these wounds…and they probably hurt.”
And then add this: “A person is a person, no matter how wounded.”
And one more thing, please be sure to say this silently about yourself.
Enjoy seeing the personhood in all.
Please consider the following quotation from Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” Now for a little homework assignment. Please consider doing one small, seemingly inconsequential act of love toward someone who has annoyed you recently—-maybe a smile or an encouraging word or an act of service of some kind (such as holding a door open for him or her). Practice forgiving through a small act that has great love attached to it.
All right, class, you have a homework assignment today. For a minimum of 10 times today, as you meet others (in the family, at work, or in casual encounters) or pass them by on the street, you are urged to do this:
1) First, see each person without just passing by or glancing casually at him or her.
2) See that there is so much more to this person than a casual encounter will allow you to see. Realize that there is a depth to this person, and this depth is currently not entirely known to you.
3) Next, consider this thought, “The person I am encountering right now, or seeing right now, probably is carrying emotional wounds inside of him or her.”
4) Go farther down that road: “Here is this person with emotional wounds and so he or she is probably carrying a lot of emotional weight right now. Even though burdened in certain ways, this person is bearing up under this weight and functioning well (or at least reasonably well) under this circumstance.”
5) And still farther down that road: “It takes courage to live each day with a wounded heart……and this person is doing just that.”
6) Try then to think this: “There is a certain dignity to each person. Each has emotional wounds and carries these anonymously, quietly, and courageously.”
7) Finally, try to think this: “What can I do to ease this person’s wounds today? Perhaps a little smile, or a comment, or somehow acknowledging this person will help ease his or her pain in some small way.”
Seeing each person as part of the walking-wounded of this world is good preparation for forgiving. You are training your mind in the truth that all carry wounds. When you then apply that principle to those who have hurt you, you are beginning to practice forgiveness. This little homework assignment is intended to strengthen you in preparation for being a forgiver. And even if you have no one to forgive, this little exercise is likely to put an unexpected joy in your heart as an end in and of itself.