Monday, March 30, 2009

How To Forgive the Guy Who is Just Not That Into You

The new comedy He’s Just Not That Into You, reminded me of the painful reality of how many women have been hurt by what I call “bozo” guys. I asked a single gal the other day what she thought of the movie, and she said, “Good but painful.” She went on to say, “It was painful to watch women who just don’t get it.” I have been on the war path for years trying to warn single gals about their pursuit of “bozo” guys. Now I realize that I need to teach singles how to forgive the bozo guy who just broke her heart, to forgive the guy who is “just not that into her”—who used up her attention, time and body and then tossed her like a paper cup. This is my new passion with singles.

How do so many wonderful single gals end up hurt by the guy who is just not that into her? The main reason she gets hurt is she breaks the 11th commandment: “Defraud Not Thyself.” Countless women actually lead themselves on through the fantasy that this guy who just chatted so charmingly with them for an hour may actually be interested in pursuing a relationship with them. Consider how often women are angry about a particular guy leading their girlfriend on in a dating relationship. Girls and women alike are angered when a guy defrauds a girl by leading her on—often the result of a guy’s agenda to merely play at love to get sex.

Yet how often do single woman get angry with their girlfriends who helped feed her own fantasy about “Mr. Right?” Defrauding oneself is such a masochistic crime against a woman’s own heart. To defraud one-self is self harm! When a gal meets a wonderful guy, her immediate response needs to be prayer and not text messaging a friend about the “Mr. Right” she thinks she has just met.

Being offended is inevitable as long as you occupy a place on planet earth—but staying offended is a choice.

After realizing the time and energy you have put into a guy who is “just not that into you,” you are likely going to be very disappointed. Inevitably, disappointment is followed by anger or depression. Because you know it is not healthy to stay angry, you will actually give yourself a “gift” when you consider forgiving this guy. The gift is your freedom.

Why forgive the guy who is just not that into you? When I don’t forgive I become a prisoner to the resentment of being defrauded by him. One needs to forgive this guy for doing what he does best—being human. People assume that “time heals all wounds,” but that is actually not true. Without the freeing choice of forgiving that guy, time simply moves the pain below the surface where it will ferment and poison your heart.

The gift of forgiving allows you to let go of hurt and move on with hope, because when you have hope, you are no one’s prisoner! Don’t be the gal who is held hostage to yesterday as she refuses to let go of unwanted hurt and move on to a new chapter. It’s in that forgiving chapter that you have the prospect of a happy ending—the freedom to hope and love again.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Time Doesn't Heal All Wounds

People may say that time heals all wounds, but if someone has not done the hard work of forgiveness, time only moves the pain below the surface. So often a person will say, “It hurts too much to feel the pain again.” And my reply is “It hurts more not to feel it.” The insidious crime of rape is not what ultimately kills the soul; it is the shaming silence a woman lives with, often for years, that holds her hostage to the deep offense. Sexual abuse is a soul-deadening crime not only because of the violent, dishonoring physical treatment but also because of the shame that keeps the victim silent.

A dear friend from college sent me some of her counseling notes years ago:

Deal with incest, abuse, etc., in therapy by:
  • Allowing the victims to tell their stories.
  • Allowing the victims to grieve.
  • Helping victims make new decisions—who they are now, etc.
  • Helping them have new experiences.

These notes are so simple and yet so profound. If God’s children would just learn to allow the offended to tell their stories and grieve the offenses—there would be far less spiritual illness in the body of Jesus. When pain is buried, it is buried only for a time. When it comes to the surface of one’s life, and it will come to the surface, it often erupts in destructive behavior that could have been prevented if the person had been able to sufficiently grieve the offense, loss, or devastation.

Shakespeare wisely recommended, “Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o’re-fraught heart and bids it break.”

Time does heal, but time heals only the wounds we allow the light of God to shine on and expose. Time ferments and intensifies wounds that are hidden, but God wants us to come to Him with all this pain. Too often we don’t face our pain because we are too scared. Sometimes we don’t think God will be able to comfort us adequately, but we need to give Him a chance. In truth, He is more than able!

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”(II Cor. 1:3,4)

Excerpt from Free Yourself to Love: The Liberating Power of Forgiveness

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Raising Good Forgivers

Are you concerned about your children’s teeth? If you’re like me, you’ve probably been known to harp on your children to brush and floss their teeth. And it’s a good thing to be concerned about! But I am often amazed that parents can be so thorough in teaching their children about dental hygiene yet neglect the ultimate hygiene of the soul. Parents will allow their children to grind their teeth in anger towards a sibling or a teacher or a parent and not get that the soul is actually “cleansed and flossed” when a person learns how to be a good forgiver.

Likewise, we focus on our children doing well in school or in sports to assure them a great future. But here’s a fact: I know hundreds of students who have passed school but have flunked life.

Children who are coached in how to ask forgiveness and how to give forgiveness will be a pleasure to be around their entire lives
Here are a few coaching tips for teaching your child how to be a good forgiver:

  1. Let the child articulate the grievance, offense or hurt (ie., being embarrassed by someone in class)
  2. Ask the child how it made him/her feel. (You are using this situation for healing and instruction in loving freely—which is forgiving freely.)
  3. Ask your child to name a “hero.” Then encourage her or him to do something truly “heroic”—to forgive this person for hurting their feelings.
  4. Encourage your child to pray with you—because to pray for the offending person is to overcome evil with good. Pray that God will bless this person and make him more like Jesus. (Rom. 12:21) (Note: You can’t fail when you pray with your child. In fact, the only failure in prayer is to not pray.)
  5. Remind your child after praying for the offender that this prayer was a most “heroic” act—to pray blessings on those who hurt you is using the “super power” of Jesus’ in you!

One day our daughter came home crying about how mean her teacher had been the whole week. Apparently there had been several incidents where she had actually screamed at some of the students, including our daughter. I let her continue to share details, so that she could express her difficult feelings, and when she was done I said, “We need to pray for your teacher before you go to sleep tonight.” Our daughter said, “We need to pray for her tonight and when we drive into school tomorrow!”

You see, our daughter was used to the “heroic” choice of forgiving others by praying for them and asking God to bless them—even when they were not acting very loving. We continued to pray for this teacher, and after a week, the teacher actually wrote a letter of apology to every student. Her private world was in chaos, and she was unfortunately taking her pain out on the students.

This incident was not isolated. If I asked my kids, “What do we do with mean teachers?” they would reply, “We pray blessings on them!” “What blessing do you think she needs?” I would ask, and immediately our child would say, “She needs to be nicer.” “OK! Well, being nicer would be a blessing to her and everyone around her.” Then we would pray. Almost inevitably, we witnessed improvement in the disposition of a mean teacher and would rejoice for the obvious answer to prayer.

These tips on forgiving also apply to mean teens. Some teenagers are so mean they emotionally “eat your child for breakfast” when arriving at school. Parents can miss this chance to tutor their teens in the skill of forgiveness through praying for these mean teens. Praying for the kids who hurt kids is a noble and heroic mission; and, in fact, those mean kids themselves are a critical mission field in our kids’ lives.

And remember, as parents, we need to practice these things as much as our children. Being offended is inevitable but staying offended is a choice. A healthy family is a place where failure is not fatal, and where forgiveness is given as freely as hugs and kisses.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Are You Mad at Bernie Madoff?

As I read details of the impact of Bernie Madoff’s investment scam, I can’t help for a moment but be “mad at Madoff.” Reading some of the details of the 13,000 victims of maybe the largest investment scam ever, I find myself imagining a vicious plan of vengeance—and I wasn’t even one of his clients! Madoff’s pride and greed allowed him to cause the hemorrhaging not only of people’s life savings but also their souls.

This heinous Ponzi scam requires more than a mere modicum of justice; but until that happens, what are the victims to do with the rage and anger that keeps their souls hemorrhaging? The answer may seem as audacious as the crime, but the victims will never have internal peace unless they commit an audaciously heroic act.

To stop the soul hemorrhaging, one must forgive: divorce oneself emotionally from the “house arrest” of anger and rage.

Now, forgiving—letting it go, sending it away emotionally—such a choice does not get Madoff off the hook, but what it does accomplish is to take the victim off the hook of perpetual resentment and rage. Forgiving allows us to amend our own stories. It releases us from the sentence of victimization in the prison of revenge fantasies, strangled by the noose of anger. Vengeance merely offers short-lived satisfaction, yet saddles us with a long-term burden. If I take God’s role into my own hands, the role of exacting vengeance, the burden is more staggering than the desire to be avenged is satisfied!

Among the victims of Madoff’s scam, is a hero of mine, Elie Wiesel, survivor of the Holocaust and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. I have admired him for years, precisely because this survivor of the Nazi death camps has learned to forgive—a genuinely heroic deed. He, like Mahatma Gandhi did, understands that forgiving is not for the weak but for the strong.

When asked about his foundation losing almost all its assets in Madoff’s scam, Wiesel said, “All my life has been about learning and teaching and building on ruins. I don’t want to be known as one of his victims. I want my name linked to peace and literature and human rights.” Elie Wiesel understands that one cannot build among the ruins of shattered dreams until one understands the liberating power of forgiveness. A person ceases to be a victim, hemorrhaging from the very soul, when one divorces, releases oneself from focusing on the offender. Such actions end the victimization—whether by a Nazi death camp or Madoff’s heinous scam.

Bernard Madoff is presently under house arrest, but, in fact, all the victims and any others who still seethe with anger are under house arrest themselves, emotional house arrest. If they go to bed, day after day, still “mad at Madoff,” they wake up with their souls still held captive to Madoff. The victims of this horrible investment scam will need to make an investment in their soul’s release from the inevitable bitterness. Isn’t it enough, the agony that his pride and greed has caused? Don’t live one more day controlled by him by focusing on him. Don’t rent any more space in your soul for a Mad at Madoff Club!

Take the first step, choose to release Madoff to the sentencing that is beyond what the courts of the land can do: Release him to the One who keeps perfect records of those who think they can harm others and escape judgment. Remove the anklet of your own house arrest—refuse one more day being “mad at Madoff.”

(Quote by Elie Wiesel—USA Today, Feb. 17, 2009, Article Wiesel Again Rebuilds on Ruins by Bob Minzesheimer)

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