Sunshine comes in many, many forms.
It could be the heat of the hot, summer rays dancing against your skin. It could be the first deep laugh after a death in the family. It’s also the power of truth sinking into the depth of a hardened hearts, pulling out light that illuminates and transforms. It’s the winds of freedom and that last bit of strength to finish the race.
Sunshine is, most definitely, calling all of our names. The question is, will we respond to it’s beckoning or remain trapped in certain areas of our lives—living in the cage of depression, self-hatred, addiction, inadequacy, fear, worry, or many other enemies that steal life and destroy hope. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t made to be locked in a cage.
I was made to live free…and so were you. Totally free. Completely free—in every area of your existence.
One of the major heart-issues that keep us locked in a cage is the nasty, ugly, enormous burden of bitterness and unforgiveness. If you’re living life, I’m sure something (or perhaps many things) have happened to you that seem to qualify a sentence of unforgiveness towards someone who has wronged you. But bitterness—even in it’s most innocent form—does nothing but poison the PERSON who holds onto it. We think we’re doing something good by clinging to hate and resentment, but the only one having to live with the burden is the one carrying the load.
Here’s a excerpt from Chapter 7 that better explains:
Forgiveness. What a superhuman concept.
If it was left up to my will, I know I would never have the strength or ability to actually fully forgive. When something painful happens, human nature tends to want to hold on as long as possible. It’s infinitely harder to overlook an offense than to get angry and bitter. Bitterness is easy—forgiveness is anything but.
For years my merciless heart was on lock down. I didn’t want to budge, or at least my pride didn’t want to budge. I couldn’t see how letting go and letting someone off the hook would do any good at all. I burned with a fire for justice. I wanted the person who had hurt me to hurt the way I had, which somehow justified my anger. I threw verbal punches and held onto bitterness. I kept blaming—kept pointing the finger. I wanted someone to pay.
By refusing to let go of anger, in any circumstance, the only one really shackled to the poison of anger and bitterness is the one consumed by it. In fact, refusing to forgive someone is like drinking poison and then waiting for your spited adversary to die.
The boy who sexually abused me wasn’t handcuffed to my wrath. I was. The kids who hurt and rejected me weren’t overwhelmed with unforgiveness. I was. My family wasn’t living under the power of my hatred. I was.
When someone says the words, “I will never forgive you for what you did to me,” the only person who really has to carry the burden of that heavy load is the one administering the sentence.
But mercy triumphs over judgment.
Kindness brings people into true sorrow for what they have done.
A lot of people think they have to actually feel like forgiving before they even start the process, but most times, it’s not going to happen that way. Waiting until you feel like forgiving someone who has wronged you will be like waiting on a cake to bake outside of the oven. It’s not going to happen. The guilty can sometimes be far from deserving the precious gift being bestowed upon them.
But forgiving those who have wronged you sets you free.
I recently heard a story about a woman whose daughter had been brutally raped and murdered by a group of young men. When the men were eventually caught and charged with the crime, the mother’s reaction astounded a nation. She forgave them all. Now, the very men who raped and murdered her daughter were so transformed by her act of kindness and forgiveness, they now work for her. She even considers them to be her sons.
There is more transforming and life-giving power in forgiveness than in anger. There is more might and strength in mercy than in bitterness. There is more release and freedom in a pardon than in a judgment.
When forgiving those who had wronged me felt more impossible than picking up a mountain with my bare hands, it meant I hadn’t known forgiveness enough to then return the favor. This is one trait that doesn’t seem to come very naturally to human nature. It’s something that has to be learned and sometimes willed over deep antagonistic emotions.
Most of us have a hard time forgiving those around us because of one thing: we really haven’t forgiven ourselves. If you ask someone if they have any regrets, heads tend to bow in shame as painful memories punch the gut. My list was long and ugly and I hated myself for it. I locked my terrible shortcomings away, fighting desperately to keep them a secret or living to overcome their shame. I hated myself for having done things that were absurdly stupid, or for looking the way that I did, or acting in ways that I hated.
When you refuse to forgive yourself for being the way you are, doing the things that you do, or never doing or being enough, you make it almost impossible to actually change. Loving and forgiving yourself where you are, at this very moment, is the starting point for moving forward and changing everything.
You have to start from forgiveness in your own heart, and then move towards areas of your life that you would like to become better.
Thanks to all of you who signed on last night for the live UStream chat. It was my very first one and I must admit, I was a little nervous! But you were all so gracious and wonderful—it made it so much fun, and I can’t wait to do it again. Loved it when you asked me pointed questions that were a little tough to answer. If you happened to miss it, you can catch the recorded version here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/11473517
I’m getting some shows booked in California next month with the AMAZING duo Johnnyswim. www.johnnyswim.com. Can’t wait to work more with them in the future. INCREDIBLE musos and people—the best of the best.
Headed to @libbygee’s tacky sweater Christmas party (why is it so much fun acting/dressing like a fool???).
If you’re holding onto bitterness or resentment…give yourself the best Christmas present you can ever give…and begin to let it go. Forgiveness isn’t usually a one-time thing….in fact, it goes against your feelings most of the time. But once you begin to let the poison drain…I promise you, you’ll begin to feel lighter. In fact, bitterness does nothing but make soft hearts hard and build castles around our souls. If you can’t forgive your dad for cheating on your mom right now…or forgive your best friend for stealing your boyfriend….or the guy who raped and abused you…..
It’s ok. It’s a process. It takes time.
Start with forgiving yourself. Start with letting yourself off the hook for the things you might have done that you hate, that you resent—that you keep you caged. You hold the key to freedom in your hand. All you have to do is open the cage and let yourself out.
Promise. Freedom is worth it.
Love Love Love,
xoxo, Sista Christa