Saturday, November 7, 2015

What to Dump For a Better Life

The following comes from the Integrated Catholic Life:
We’ve got a dumpster coming today for some household cleanup, an October cleaning of sorts to purge the house of many things—old broken but non-antique furniture, a basketball hoop that has seen better days, wet carpet pulled up from a home improvement project, and a wooden swing that served us well for many summers but is now warped and falling apart.
As I sit by the window, waiting for the truck that will bring the dumpster (I hope I got one big enough), it occurred to me that while I am at it, it might be a good idea to rid my mind of mental debris as well. If a cook works better in a clean kitchen, and if a home operates more smoothly with organized rooms, then I’m sure my mind (and spirit) will be better off if I get rid of a few things. Want to join me?
The purging, both physical and mental, won’t be overwhelming. We’ll just be getting rid of things we no longer need, or that can become not only an eyesore but unhealthy if they sit out too long.
First, we’ll start with resentment. It’s a toughie because it likes to linger, but we’ve got to get it out. Let us begin.
Did your parents prevent you from some pined for opportunity when you were a child that you’re just positive would have affected your life positively and differently had they done this or that? Were you overlooked at work although you really deserved a raise or recognition? Did a friend snub you? Did you buy some stock and then lose money because of bad advice or maybe just bad luck? Did rain get in your basement? Was the supermarket clerk rude? Did someone flip you off in traffic? Were you misunderstood? Do you have an acute or lingering illness? Did someone else seem to get a break in sports, or income or wife or life? Do you have some personal struggles that no one seems to understand or no one else seems to have? Did you experience a once in a lifetime catastrophe?
Okay, here it is:
You have to get over it.  

Ouch. I know that sounds harsh. And please believe me, I really do understand how hard it can be to refuse resentment. Some years ago my brother, just twenty-years-old, was killed in a car accident. I have lost five babies to miscarriage (one on Christmas Day). I have other private sorrows. I lived through a house fire as a child and battled cancer as an adult. I am experienced in the once-in-a-lifetime catastrophe department, which are not always “once in a lifetime” as some of you may also know first hand. I tell you this only so you will know I understand how hard this can be. Stewing over past hurts may be tempting, but don’t do it! We not only canlet go of resentment that tempts us, but we must or it will clutter our hearts and minds and will snuff out joy of living.
When we resent someone (or something), we hand over power to that person or situation. We let it control our moods and emotions, how we treat people. In short, resentment grows easily and can rob our lives of peace of mind and happiness.
“A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.” (Proverbs 27:3)
“The godless in heart cherish anger.” (Job 36: 13)
Three remedies to resentment are forgiveness, a reality check and gratitude.
First, let’s look at forgiveness and address what forgiveness of a person is not—forgiveness is not being stupid, trusting an untrustworthy person, for example. It is not putting yourself in an unhealthy situation over and over again, taking physical or emotional abuse, because you are constantly giving a bad person another chance. If a person willfully hurts you and is impenitent it would be ridiculous to put yourself in a situation to be hurt again. Forgiveness also doesn’t mean overlooking evil. Forgiveness does not mean giving access again when it is imprudent to do so. Sometimes, in fact, a situation necessitates distance from the person you forgive, for self-preservation purposes.
What does forgiveness—something Jesus tells us to do “seventy times seven” look like then? Forgiveness of a person means you look at him with compassion, trying to see him through “God’s eyes” so to speak. The angry and verbally abusive person may have, for example, been raised in a poor home environment. Imagine what it must have been like for him as a child growing up in a home with hate being spewed daily. Perhaps he says what was said to him. Forgiveness does not mean you subject yourself to his vitriol. Forgiveness does not mean you do not hold him accountable for his actions or say meekly that the wrongs are “not a big deal.” But you do, looking at him with “kind eyes,” seek understanding, and let go of the hurt, like a helium balloon into the sky, of the anger he throws your way. You sincerely wish the best for him. You pray for him. You bless him. This could be the grace that allows goodness and healing to reenter his life. God is good like that.
We can also play the “benefit of the doubt” or “make excuses” exercise to help facilitate forgiveness of a person and prevent resentment from taking hold in our hearts. We do this by imagining the best in someone and picturing a scenario that perhaps caused the behavior we are tempted to resent. A simple example is a man flips you off in traffic, either warranted or unwarranted by your driving. You can take it personally and get mad back, or control your thoughts to imagine he may have been just fired from his job, or his wife just left him, or imagine some other instance where he may have been wronged and gave in to a momentary action of anger against you. In short, you give him the benefit of the doubt and “make excuses” for him. It is easier to forgive when you have compassion for someone. And forgiving helps dissipate resentment.

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