I wanted to blog today despite not having any idea about what I will say. I still don’t know what I am going to write which is kind of exciting. Let’s see where this goes!
A few of the recent musings in my mind have involved simplicity in home routines, avoiding depression, and the meaning of forgiveness. Now that I think about it, they are all somewhat connected. You see, the more that I pack into my schedule, the higher my stress levels rise and the thinner my patience becomes. As my patience wears thin, guilt accumulates for all of the things I failed to do, didn’t do well enough, or inappropriately responded to. The guiltier I feel, the more I despair and soon I am in a pit of gloom that only serves to fuel the vicious, self-berating cycle. The only way out is through forgiveness.
What exactly is forgiveness? My tendency is to think it means denying anything is or was wrong, but that is not true. Instead, as my mom concisely clarified, it acknowledges the wrongs and admits that nothing can be done to change the past. In that moment, we then say, “But I forgive you. Let’s move forward.” It’s easier to not forgive, but more freeing to do so. And that includes me. I rarely forgive myself for my failures, mistakes, and wrongdoings; I don’t want to make excuses for myself or give myself a pass. I’m afraid that forgiving myself is the equivalent of shrugging my shoulders with an “Oh well, I’m not perfect” kind of attitude, and then I’ll just repeat the wrong behavior. Such an attitude would be wrong; however, I can forgive a repentant heart, a heart that recognizes what I did wrong and is sincerely seeking to turn away from that behavior. If I forgive such a heart, I and my family will benefit from my renewed spirit.
Often in a day I not only need to forgive myself for messing up, I also need to forgive my child. If I’m too busy or stressed, I overlook him and this leads to frustrating, exasperating, or destructive behavior on his part. He doesn’t know that I need to forgive him or am even upset with him, but I do. He is a wonderful example of moving on and not holding on to the past. As soon as his attention is diverted or he wakes up from a good rest, it’s as if he is starting his day completely afresh. I want to model that behavior in my own life – forgive and start afresh. My daily forgiveness routine includes my husband as well. He rarely, if ever, intentionally offends me, but sometimes he doesn’t meet the unspoken expectations I have set for him in my head, thus leading to my irritation or frustration. Rather than lash out, I need to forgive him and establish expectations that are grounded in the reality that he can’t read my mind. And, crazy as it may sound, I need to forgive my pets too, for, well…being animals and living as if their desires and impulses are the only ones that matter.
All that to say this: maintaining a simple, flexible, daily routine can greatly reduce my forgiveness list. If I give myself time to meditate on God’s Word, listen to music, and accomplish the necessities of daily living, I will have the strength of mind and heart to avoid potentially stressful situations and to stay patient when stress is unavoidable. Knowing that I have completed my tasks and appropriately handled stress, keeps me far away from depression and enables me to interact lovingly and gently with the other living beings in my life.
How is that for a conversational ramble?