Forgive & Give Thanks

September 14, 2008

From stuffed turkeys to full tummies, we celebrate Thanksgiving by immersing ourselves in the moment. We enjoy ourselves by coming together and sharing our food and memories. We reflect on our country, our faith and our family. The day-long - and sometimes week-long - preparation of one meal, testifies to the significance of the day. Along with our gratitude, Thanksgiving offers us a time to express forgiveness, as well as thanks.

Good Times
When we look back over the year, or the decade, or the course of our lives, we quickly recognize our gifts and happiness. When sharing with those we love, we recall times of joy such as births and weddings and other rites of passage. And for those, we sincerely give thanks. Remembering difficult situations transforming into positive opportunities, we take particular joy in celebrating the gifts of Spirit for bringing in the highest and best for our life. That's the easy part.

Often, we require life's harshest lessons to learn and grow. Gentle teachers guide and direct us, but the difficult headmaster provides the most opportunity for progress. Immersed in a challenge, we experience a variety of emotions ranging from anger, to fear, frustration and anxiety. Then, when we triumphantly emerge from the struggle, like a mother giving birth, we forget the pain and rejoice in the joy of the outcome. And sometimes, we hold grudges against the very things that we strived to overcome, which taught us the most. The joy of forgiveness goes hand in hand with gratitude.

Forgiveness definitions vary from a simple letting go, to a more complex cautious dismissal. We accept apologies when offered, and interpret this as forgiveness. By that interpretation, we can never forgive someone who fails to apologize. Another conundrum appears if the object of our forgiveness isn't a person (its a circumstance or situation), or the person is no longer living. We then claim to suffer from the malaise of "not having closure." Since most of us don't really know what forgiveness is, we conveniently make excuses to not forgive at all, simply because we don't know what it looks like in our world. We create our destiny of carrying around resentment and anger the remainder of our lives.

Who benefits?
The starkest contrast between forgiveness and gratitude, not surprisingly, resides within us. In gratitude, we experience peace of mind, a sense of honor and satisfaction, wrapped in the recognition of Spirit's blessing in our lives. Not only do we lovingly embrace the things for which we are thankful, those around us absorb our positive energy and grow inspired to consider their own reasons for gratitude. In short, an "attitude of gratitude" affects more than one person.

In holding grudges, anger, or resentment, we mostly affect ourselves. Many times the subject of our disdain continues on his or her course blissfully unaware of our feelings, or worse, appears apathetic. In such cases, we hold the negativity all to ourselves. We alone experience all the anxiety and physical ill-being brought about by our feelings. Alternatively, the person we need to forgive the most awaits our forgiveness. He or she harbors feelings of inadequacy or sorrow that we cannot seem to release and let them go. Now, you affect that person, too, and cause untold hardship on his or her well-being. In short, nobody benefits from unforgiveness.

Letting go / Surrender
The true but overused phrase, "Let Go, Let God,"" serves us well. Releasing anger, fear, resentment not only frees you, but other, too. By doing so, we acknowledge our inability to control the situation, and give up the struggle. That's all it is, really, just struggle for control. And the negativity takes its toll on you, in fact, its killing you. So, if you give up trying to control everything around you, even the people in your life, the struggle falls away along with it. Everyone is free to explore the doors of opportunity for gratitude in all areas of life.

Today, give thanks for life's harshest lessons for bringing you to the present moment. Thank people whom you feel wronged you in any way, for they are Spirit's special messengers for self-reflection. Put what happened to you in the past and leave it where it belongs. Appreciate all that you've overcome which enriched you, educated you and strengthened you. Rejoice in your new well-being, and the Universe will support you in amazing ways.

And most of all, thank God for your incredible capacity to love.

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