Forgiveness for the Holidays

We’re a little under two weeks away from the celebration of Christmas and we’re a few days from Hanukkah.  This month is so full of celebrations and gifting, something I’m so thankful for because it’s a good reminder that we’re not alone in this world and how important it is show our appreciation and love to those in our lives.  If you’ve been thinking about whether or not to fight the crowds and get one last gift for someone or to skip it, I’d encourage you to go for it.  Don’t let Scrooge win this year.

Let’s talk about one of the best gifts you can give yourself or anyone this year, or at any time: the gift of forgiveness.  Forgiveness isn’t something trivial that we throw around like we do the word love, in fact we’re pretty stingy with it, mostly because we’ve been hurt so many times, often by the same person, and it feels like it might be a waste of time to forgive them or anyone.  So don’t feel bad if you’ve struggled to forgive before.

But what I’ve learned over the years is that it never pays to hold a grudge.  Often it just becomes a distraction or sticking point that you can’t get over.  You think about it over and over again, stopping you from moving forward and onward with your life.  They may be moving forward in their life, whether you’ve forgiven them or not (and may not care if you have or haven’t forgiven them), while you’re still in the past withholding forgiveness.

Which means that usually the first person that needs forgiving is you.  We’re harder on ourselves than on anyone else and we’re our biggest critic too.  If you really want to be free to be all you can be this coming year, it starts with learning to forgive yourself, because without the forgiveness moving on to bigger and better things won’t be easy, if it’s even possible.

So go ahead and work on forgiving yourself or someone else this holiday season; it won’t be an easy gift but it will be the best one you’ve ever given.


Freedom of Forgiveness

This week with Easter ahead and Passover in progress I wanted to reflect on a topic that both of those are connected with: forgiveness.  Everyone needs forgiveness at some point in time in their life.  We may not feel that some people are worthy of forgiveness, and some people may not care if they are forgiven or not because they don’t think they did anything that needs to be forgiven.  Forgiveness can free us from what the other person did even if they’re not interested in being forgiven, and forgiveness can free the person who did something wrong to move on with their life.  Sometimes we also need to forgive ourselves so that we can let go of what we did, learn the lesson and move on.  Forgiveness is an experience of learning from others and ourselves so as part of my thoughts today I thought I would share a few quotes on forgiveness.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”  Mahatma Gandhi

“Sincere forgiveness isn’t colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don’t worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time-just like it does for you and me.”  Sara Paddison

“There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.”  Bryant H. McGill

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”  Martin Luther King Jr

As you continue in this week I encourage you, especially if you’re taking part in any of this week’s spiritual journeys, to take some time to consider if forgiveness is something that needs to happen in your life with yourself or with regards to someone else.  It’s not always easy to let go of something that may have been a central part of your life for a time, but there’s very little to be gained by hanging onto weight like that which usually comes along with things that need forgiving.  Life is for living, not looking over your shoulder, so I encourage you to work on forgiveness this week.  If you’re in a process of working on forgiveness, I’d love to hear what you’re learning, too.

A Timely Holiday

This week I’ve gotten a whole bunch of emails from people and companies with different sentiments about the Christmas and Hanukkah holidays. They’ve all contained some sage advice, and I’ve been sharing what I’ve been reading through my blogs and newsletters as well as with friends and family.  The word that I wanted to share today is timely.  I do believe in a right time for everything, even if we don’t think it’s the right time.  So often we’re wanting things to happen on our time but that’s simply not how it works.  Time isn’t something we can control.  Sure we can do everything possible to expedite things, but sometimes there’s no way to push things through quicker.

I don’t know why some things take years to develop or why some things happen way before we think we’re ready for them or everything seems to happen at once.  I don’t think that’s life playing a joke on us, I think that’s just the way it works and part of how we learn and experience the life journey.  Sometimes it helps if you take a step back, other times it helps to push through and not keep looking back so much.  Sometimes you just have to be patient and let it do what it’s going to do.

This weekend as you gather with family and friends, consider the timing.  Is this the right holiday for some forgiveness?  Is this the holiday you should be taking extra time off?  Is this the holiday you should be giving extra? Is this the holiday that you need to step up for family and friends?  Is this the holiday that you do something for yourself?  Whatever comes your way this holiday I encourage you to reflect on what’s life trying to tell you and what opportunities life is bringing you.  And if life’s bringing you lots of blessings and joy make sure you share it!

Health and Forgiveness

This month we’ve been talking about the topic of health.  It’s a topic that affects us all and is important to us all regardless of where we live, what we do, what we look like, what we like, and whether we have a job/are in a relationship/have kids or not.  Health is not just about the physical, but about the mental, spiritual and social as well.  All contribute to how healthy we are as a whole person. Today I want to talk about an important health topic, forgiveness.  It’s not a comfortable topic, but I believe it’s an important one.

Let’s start with what forgiveness is, with wisdom from John Ortberg:  “Forgiving is not the same thing as excusing…Forgiving is not forgetting…Forgiving is not the same thing as reconciling…When I forgive you, I give up the right to hurt you back…When we forgive each other, we begin to see more clearly. We do not ignore the hurts, but we see beyond them…”

Forgiveness doesn’t happen all at once, and it’s not just about other people.  Often the biggest person we need to forgive is ourselves.  We do really good at screwing ourselves over.   We use excuses, stall tactics, smaller priorities, other people and laziness to avoid doing what we really need to do.  As a result the guilt just keeps growing keeping us stuck and making it harder to get unstuck which is super frustrating and detrimental to our health, often in many ways.  It’s not easy to accept that we’ve been treating ourselves poorly and that things need to change.  It doesn’t feel good to admit that we were wrong or that we’ve gone down the wrong path.  And sometimes while you may need to forgive someone else for something they’ve done you find that you need to forgive yourself as well because you played a role in the problem as well.

It’s not easy to accept we’re not perfect, know-it-all people, but we’re not.  You and I both have areas that we need to improve in.   If you’ve been struggling to make that improvement it may be because you’re unwilling or unable to forgive yourself or others for past hurts so that you can begin the process of letting the past go and moving into the future.  I encourage you to join me this week in finally accepting that things need to change and taking steps to make those changes happen, starting with forgiving yourself or someone you’ve been letting keep that power over you for too long.

Sincere Apologies

July 7 was a very important day.  You may not know why, but it was Global Forgiveness Day.  I don’t know about you, but I’m really thankful that we are able to forgive each other because I know I screw up on a regular basis.  Of course I wish I needed less forgiving, and I do try to do my best in all situations, but I’m not perfect and sometimes I make assumptions, presumptions, or guesses, blame someone for something they didn’t do, don’t understand what I was supposed to do or just plain screw up. And sometimes I need forgiving not because I did something wrong necessarily, but because I was having a bad day and decided to take it out on an unsuspecting someone else.

It seems like most of the forgiving we do isn’t done with the word “forgive.”  We say “I’m sorry” and respond with “It’s OK” or “It’s not OK” or “Try to do better next time.”  We don’t usually say “I forgive you.”  Is there really a difference?  Does it matter?  Is the apology and acknowledgement of the apology good enough?

I don’t think it really matters what we call it, as long as we’re sincere in our apology, willing to try to forgive and/or willing to do better next time.  Forgiveness only works as a concept if we’re willing to do better next time.  Otherwise what’s the point of forgiving someone or apologizindg even?  The concept of forgiveness means you’ve recognized that you’ve done wrong.  If you don’t really think you’ve done anything wrong, your lackluster apology won’t be appreciated, and may even damage your relationship with the other person or people.

Do you need to really forgive someone today?  Do you need to ask for forgiveness today? Don’t put it off any longer.  Make today the day that you choose forgiveness.

4 Keys to Exponential Growth

This past week I read a great article by Brian Dodd on some things that a church leader has done to exponentially grow his church. As I was reading the article I was again reminded of the similarities between church and business leaders.  Today I want to share 4 insights, things that as the leader you need to provide or show to really grow your business successfully and create a lasting business.

Do you really know what you’re talking about?  Do your employees really know what they’re talking about? Or is everyone just trying to make a buck and hoping everything is self explanatory?  If there are only a handful of you involved in day to day operations you should all be knowledgeable about just about every aspect of the business.  Maybe you don’t know all the details but you should all know enough to be able to answer the majority of questions that customers would have.

Stable And Consistent Leadership
High turnover can display several bad indications about your business.  So if you’re able to present leadership that remains with the business for years it is a sign of health within the business as well as a strong, positive statement about what type of company you are, what you sell and what the company stands for.

Love Your People
Do you really love what you do? Do your employees and other leaders really enjoy what they do?  Do you all really enjoy supporting your customers?  Customers, and even potential customers, have pretty good BS meters these days.  They are good at figuring out which companies really care about what they do and the people they support.  While indifference towards your customers isn’t necessarily a reason people won’t choose you, people will be more likely to refer you if they feel appreciated and supported, and maybe even loved, by you and your team.

I know this may sound like one that only applies to churches, but it’s not.  I have yet to meet a perfect company and there are stories in the news each week about companies, and leaders, who screw up.  I’ve also met people who aren’t great customers and yet sometimes they’re worth the effort.  Everyone screws up once in a while, and I haven’t met too many people or companies that don’t deserve a second chance.

Are these 4 qualities something you apply in your business?  What ones do you need to work most on?

Celebrating Easter

How many have you been to this year?  Come on, you know what I’m talking about! Easter egg hunts!  There are those that your kids do at home plus the dozens around the town and at different churches.   Recently I was driving past one and it had to be the craziest thing I’ve seen.  Rather than doing an actual hunt they were using a football field and had just strewn eggs everywhere.  So it was more like an Easter egg race than a hunt.  If nothing else it certainly was different from the usual for the kids.

But it got me thinking about the joy that Easter is all about.  If you can remember being a kid and anticipating the egg hunt, as well as things like Christmas morning, Halloween or your birthday parties or the day before a big vacation, it’s one of those big days that was super exciting every year.  I can remember being excited to see my Easter basket and play with the eggs for weeks after.  As adults we don’t always get as excited as the kids do.  We’ve got lots to deal with like the logistics of filling all those eggs.

But Easter maybe more than any other holiday is one that’s about joy.  It doesn’t have the pressures of Christmas or Valentine’s Day, but it is a chance for family to gather together and celebrate.  Whether you’re celebrating spring’s arrival or the religious reasons behind Easter, it’s a reminder to celebrate life. It’s a reminder that winter is ending and it’s time to start living again.  It’s time to open up the eggs that life gives us and find the treats and surprises inside.  It’s time to put a little spring in your step and work on forgiveness with family and friends.  Even if you have to do a little work to find them, life does have blessings for you.  Find something each day this weekend to celebrate, even if it’s something as small as a newly grown flower, or the joy of watching your kids race for the eggs.

Groundhog Day Redos

Have you seen the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray? It’s the story of Phil Connors who repeats one day, Groundhog Day, over and over. It’s a fascinating movie to watch if you’re into change and improving on your life. The theory behind Groundhog Day the holiday is that a groundhog comes out of their burrow in early February to determine if there will be six more weeks of winter or not. With all the cameras and flash bulbs, not to mention a few aggressive groundhogs in NY and Wisconsin, and it’s not exactly scientific or with the way it’s done even Farmer’s Almanac accurate really anymore, but it’s still a fun concept and tradition.

Today I wanted to talk about the concept of the movie, not the actual holiday though. What would you give for the chance to do over one of the key days in your life? Depending on how serious of a bad day it was you may give a lot for that chance! While we may not have the ability to do over days like Bill Murray’s character did, we do have the ability to change the future. We can’t change the past or undo things we’ve done, but we can take different actions to encourage a different outcome the next time we’re in a similar situation.

The good news is that there are very few things that have happened in the past that we can’t do something about rectifying in the future. If we can’t fix it or redo it at all, there’s a good chance that we can practice a little forgiveness receiving or asking and at least have some peace with the situation.

The future isn’t set in place, only the past. I’m thankful that we’ve got a completely wide-open future ready for whatever we want to make of it. What will you make of yours?

How To Treat Others: 5 Lessons

One of the greatest lessons you can pass on to your kids is how to treat someone else. When you know how to treat someone properly it’s like being given the keys to the kingdom. So what are the important lessons to teach?

1-Respect-it’s important to have respect for those who are older or wiser than you, which could be anyone, so it’s best to try to respect everyone. This doesn’t mean that you have to agree with them, it just means that you can’t try them for treason (or worse) because they like the color blue and you don’t.

2-Politeness-this is about knowing how to act around others and what’s not appropriate for the group that you’re with, but it’s also about some of the basic tenets that you should follow when you’re in the company of others, whether physically or virtually. Yes, it’s good to have fun and games, but a kind act or word goes a long way beyond one of hatred or rudeness.

3-Listening-we’re pretty good at talking but not so good at listening. We’re a world of people who talk at work, online and all day long. It’s how we express ourselves so it’s not something we can avoid. But we’re not so good at being patient and listening to others, which is just as important as talking.

4-About Ignorance-unless something has changed that I don’t know about, you don’t know everything and neither do I. To assume that you do could have serious repercussions depending on exactly how ignorant you are and what you do that shows that ignorance.

5-Forgiveness-this is one of the most important lessons because it’s about the future. It’s not really about the past or the present, but about how your future and the future of someone else will go. Forgiveness isn’t always easy, but I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that it wasn’t the right choice for everyone.

These are some of the lessons I learned growing up, what about you? What lessons did you learn and what ones are you trying to pass on to your kids?

“My parents would always say, ‘It doesn’t matter if it’s a guy picking up the garbage or the President of the United States, treat everybody as you would want to be treated.” Dan Marino

Forgiveness for Future Freedom

Forgiveness isn’t a topic to be taken lightly. Sure it’s easy to say the words and not mean them, but what good is that? Then you remain hurt and you hurt the other person or people as well. No, you can’t change the past or forget that it happened, but that’s not what forgiveness is about. Forgiveness is about seeing that what was done was wrong and enabling you (and the other person/people) to move on to the future. Maybe that future means changes, maybe it means counseling, maybe it means punishment for what was done wrong, but whatever the future holds, forgiveness is about choosing to move on to the future rather than staying stuck in the past.

Forgiveness is a healthy part of our world, a part that many people choose not to participate in. We all know it’s there, but sometimes we let our stubbornness and hurt feelings get in the way of what’s best for us. Forgiveness is like so many of the other healthy living topics we’re talking about this month: it’s a choice. Sometimes you don’t have a whole lot of control over your health and lifespan, like in situations of Chernobyl or the Titanic. But I would estimate that 75% of the time or more you do have a choice in your health and we don’t always make that choice.

It’s important to note that forgiveness isn’t saying that you agree to forget what the other person/people have done, forgiveness is recognizing and accepting what was done and the resulting consequences and choosing to move on anyway. Maybe that means you’ll move on together and work to resolve the issues, but maybe forgiveness means choosing to go your separate ways because that’s what’s best.

I encourage you to take time this weekend to consider if you’re withholding forgiveness from anyone or refusing to accept if from anyone and why that would be. Also consider what your life would be like if you chose to accept or offer that forgiveness.