I attended a spring conference hosted by High Point Church where Linda Austin Crawford, The Anchor Publisher, was the main speaker. It was great. It was an excellent combination of fellowship, food, fun and worship.
Linda’s talk centered on forgiveness. In teaching the multitudes, Jesus noted that offenses would occur. That is a given. Whether or not the offense was deliberately perpetrated or whether it was our perception, being offended is a part of the human experience.
Jesus also talked about choosing to forgive. Even to forgive repeated offenses. Even to be as extreme as choosing to forgive an offender 490 times (70X7)! To wit the apostles pleaded, “Increase our faith!”
Linda’s teaching involves the etymology of words – what they meant originally and what they have come to mean through use. Case in point is a “mustard seed tree”.
The underlying message is that something so small (seed) can grow quickly and spread to mammoth proportions. Whether or not the tiny seed is an offence that spreads to fill one’s soul with puss pockets of unforgiveness or if it is the tiny seed of the Word of God that spreads hope and healing to a wounded spirit.
Both are cultivated through remembering.
Failure to forgive self or others is fostered through remembering; keep in mind, dredge up, harked back to.
Pain is compounded to a victim when she gains courage to confront her abuser and he doesn't remember (will not acknowledge an indiscretion). Our pain would not be healed if we were courageous enough to seek God's comfort and he did not remember.
And God remembered Noah.
To remember has variations of meaning. What may be true in one stance may not be true in another. God's not remembering our past does not mean his forgetfulness but rather that he does not hold our past against us.
Noah may have thought he was forgotten, but not so. God never promised us protection from the storms of life. He never promised us passage through the storms of life. He promised us his presence in the midst of the storms of life. God’s presence is there for whatever is needed, either to comfort and sustain or to convict and convince.
Whether we are the victim or the victimizer, God remembers and He loves us and woos us in spite of.
Our past does matter - the good and the bad - it is just not paramount. The past does, to a degree, color our personality; it just does not determine our today or our tomorrows.
Forgiving and being forgiven are deep-rooted issues. Not to worry, God remembers. Choosing to forgive – even taking a baby step in that direction - increases our faith. Remember that.
One’s behavior seems automatic. It is hard to believe –consciously or unconsciously, by purpose or default – that you chose it. Repeated behavior becomes habit. Habit takes on a life of its own and seems innate; that you just can’t help it – that that is just the way you are. When confronted by a negative attitude or action one may rationalize, “Everybody’s that way.”
Being pleasant and thankful when things go your way is a habit you taught yourself. So is being disagreeable and unappreciative when things do not go your way. Being agreeable or disagreeable both are habits you taught yourself and they habitually surface upon command.
“Surface comes from the French meaning “above the face”. The behavior probably seems automatic and is thus hard to see as your having set it. What is “above the face” is also hidden in your unconscious and both are out of your known control. Repeated behavior becomes habit.
Stop and ponder: Have you ever responded negatively in a situation and blamed the circumstances for your behavior? “You made me mad.” “The traffic made me late.” “You did me wrong and I’ll show you!”
Someone or something making you do something is not like an allergy to cats. With an allergy your body’s immune system automatically responds whether the kitten is cute and cuddly or if it is a mangy flea-infested stray.
Get honest and think hard. Has a similar situation occurred and your response was different? “No big deal.” “No harm done.”
So if one day Sue/Sam “made you mad” and the next day – when you were more rested or were not so rushed or so stressed or had spent time meditating or whatever to put yourself in the better frame-of-habit-mindset – then obviously Sue/Sam was not the organic cause of your negative response. In either scenario, you drew on habit responses you taught yourself.
Forming new habits involves awareness. To determine what you do want to change starts with understanding what you do not want to change. Exert mental effort to become aware of your attitude and behaviors – those times you are pleased with yourself for speaking rationally or remained calm or for boldly asserting yourself. Out of this awareness determine effects and whether you wish to maintain them – or not.
Forming new habits involves doing one thing differently. Every time we modify our behavior we have a different experience. This new experience sends a new footpath to our brain. Treading this new path again and again causes our brain to become wired - habituated – to new attitudes, actions and outcomes.
Don’t Cope. Overcome. Avoid the stack-attack-syndrome of frustrated aggressive behavior by learning a sever-assessing-system of assertiveness – one step at a time – one path at a time – to a new hard-wired brain habit.
“Humor is the ability to greet life with a fluid flexibility, in spite of its upsets, disappointments and crises.” John M. Irvin
Former Senator Bob Dole believes that “second only to a backbone, everyone needs a funny bone.”
Having a sense of humor is developing the ability to go with the flow of life - ups and downs - and still be able to maintain a strong sense of happiness and joy in being alive. A good sense of humor is beneficial to your physical health as well as to one’s emotional well-being.
* Laughter changes body chemistry; revs up and releasing healing endorphins - the body’s natural painkillers.
* Not only is decision making easier when possibilities are taken lightly - for they are just possibilities - but creative possibilities and morale is increased.
* Aids in quicker recovery from tragedies and illnesses.
* Great help in stress reduction by lightening tense situations.
* Allows one to deliver a serious message while defusing potential stress.
* Improves mental and emotional health.
* Aerobic. When one laughs the lungs get a good work out.
* Doctors have asserted that twenty seconds of robust belly laughing equals three minutes of exercise.
* Improves relationships by building teamwork.
* Laugh lines add character to your face. Did you know it takes more muscles to frown, than to laugh?
* Since aging produces wrinkles anyway, why not make them laugh lines?
* Humor is the breeding ground for loyalty; if you are likeable, people will be more loyal to you.
* Makes you more memorable. Who can easily forget a pleasant person?
* Expands your comfort zone.
* Gives a new perspective on life; begin to see things a little differently.
“A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs – jolted by every pebble in the road.” Henry Ward Beecher
“A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Solomon Prov. 17:22
Use caution in using humor. What is funny to one may be offensive to another. Sarcasm, ethnic jokes, put downs, belittling, etc. are never universally funny and can cause - not only hurt feelings - but also actual harm in relationships.
Laugh at yourself and with others. But in laughing at yourself, do not fall into the Rodney Daingerfield syndrome of putting yourself down to the discomfort of your audience. Do not use humor as a defense to deny reality. “Oh, I was just joking”. Do not allow humor to trivialize an issue. Be sensitive to what you make light of.
If you are going to laugh about it someday, go ahead and make that day today. Have you ever experienced a difficult situation that was stressful or even anger producing, and yet later - when emotions were not so raw - the story became a big hee-haw? Get a handle on stressful situations by finding something humorous in it. See the absurd.
“If you can laugh at it, you can survive it.” Bill Cosby