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“As you let go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt.” The Mayo Clinic

Medicine and psychology would both encourage the benefits of the practise of forgiving. To do so can effect blood pressure, the immune system, as well as improve mental health, anxiety, stress and depression.

But, what does the Bible say?

When I began my study into Biblical forgiveness (a-lesson-in-forgiveness), I discovered that, on the surface, it was not as clear as I had always thought, particularly when I looked at the life story of Joseph, our man with the coat of many colours.

I decided I needed to understand the origins of forgiveness in Greek or Hebrew, in the various locations in the Bible where forgiveness is spoken of.

In Hebrew, there are three main words forgiveness is translated from. Kaphar, which means shelter or to atone. Naga’ is the most frequently translated word for forgiveness in the Bible, and it means to to lift up, as in the taking away of a burden.

Then there is salach, and it is special, for it is never used (biblically) for instances of human forgiveness. This is the forgiveness that only God can give … not only is forgiveness given, but it is as though the offence never happened (though the debt of it still had to be paid, but we do not pay this, for we cannot, only Jesus’ blood could pay that debt).

You and I cannot do this type of forgiveness.

In the Greek, the words used for forgiveness are aphesis means pardon, cancellation of a debt, apolyo which means set free, and charizomai  meaning God’s freely given grace.

Then there is aphiemi which means to set free … it not only forgives, but erases or covers, as in Jeremiah 31:34:

“I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more”.

This is not forgiveness on our own strength, but through Christ, and it is ONLY through Christ that we can forgive others. It is a miraculous thing, not a mental one for there is nothing within us that can forgive. This supernatural action is what Philippians 2:13 declares:

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

And this is the crux of forgiveness from a biblical perspective … it is only in in the power of God, that our human need to forgive is covered and a working of the divine makes our effort successful, setting not just our offender, but also ourselves free indeed.

We must forgive, because it is in our weakness that Christ’s strength transforms our forgiveness, our naga (taking away a burden) and makes it aphiemi (erased).

I love what John Steakhouse has said:

“To forgive does not mean to forget (in human terms). It does not mean to pretend that there is no debt, or that the debt is less than it actually is, or that the debt is somehow other than what it is. To forgive is to refuse to claim one’s just deserts. It is to surrender one’s rights, to move on without vengeance, retribution, or even simple justice. It is to generously draw a line under the debt and say, “That’s over. Let’s move on.”” And  this is not something that can be done in our own strength, but only with and under the cover of Christ. 

This story creates a beautiful illustration of the beauty of choosing forgiveness:

One day when Stan Mooneyham was walking along a trail in East Africa with some friends, he became aware of a delightful odor that filled the air. He looked up in the trees and around at the bushes in an effort to discover where it was coming from. Then his friends told him to look down at the small blue flower growing along the path. Each time they crushed the tiny blossoms under their feet, more of its sweet perfume was released into the air. Then his friends said, “We call it the forgiveness flower.” This forgiveness flower does not wait until we ask forgiveness for crushing it. It does not release its fragrance in measured doses or hold us to a reciprocal arrangement. It does not ask for an apology; it merely lives up to its name and forgives-freely, fully, richly. (from PreceptAustin.com)


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Recently one of my daughters and I went for a walk with the beast, on my favorite trail. It was not a bright sun-shiny day, but it was not raining, and in monsoon season here, that is great weather!

As we were coming to the end of our walk, there was a woman with a girl, who looked to be about four, coming towards us. As they were getting closer, I experienced a strong case of deja vu. The little girl, clad in a pink raincoat, and matching rain boots, was puddle jumping.

Immediately, I was carried back to the days when my own kids were preschoolers, out for a walk with the sole intend of puddle jumping after the rain stopped. I remembered the various rain boots and coats, the childish umbrellas, and … the smiles of delight as they approached a fresh, undisturbed puddle, as they plotted and planned how to move as much water as they could in one leap.

I remembered their wonder-filled smiles, and I felt that tug on my mama heart, that tug that said ‘I miss that’, ‘I long for that look, that feeling, again.’

Then I realized that my daughter, at my side, was taking the same wonder-filled delight in the experience that we were both observing. She is almost fifteen, and is all teenage girl. But she is not above the delightful moments of life. She is still filled with awe at the sight of a puddle and a pair of rubber boots. She is still filled with wonder.

Sometimes, as a mom of teens, it is easy to allow my thoughts of when they were young, linger in my mind. Sometimes, as a mom of teens, I forget that the inquisitive, wide-eyed, wonder-filled person I knew in them a dozen or so years ago, is still there. What has changed is that I need to readjust my expectations of how that wonder is expressed.

In my nineteen year old, the wonder might be the way she described the group interview for a position at a camp for kids with cancer. In my twelve year old son, it might be the “advanced graphic for it’s time” in an old N64 James Bond Movie. For my fifteen year old, it might be sharing a moment of delight as we watch a little one jump into a puddle, without a care in the world.

Maybe, like how I delight in a day without rain, even though it is still cloudy, I need to look actively for the moments of wonder in my teens days. Maybe then, when I am a grandma, watching my grandchild jumping in puddles, I will see a mom and her teen walking towards us. I will see them delighting in the joy my grandchild is having. I will see the wonder on that teens face, and I will remember the shared wonder I had with my teen, and it will make me long for those days too.

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Fairy tales are to girls what big truck shows are to boys … they grab their attention from beginning to end, they amaze the viewer and make them think that what they see and hear is actually attainable reality … it is not.

Fairy tales are just that, they are the tales, or stories, that include imaginary characters such as fairies, or dwarfs, or talking mice, or flying carpets. They are, from their very name, made up stories, full of made up characters, and made up endings.

If I were to write a fairy tale it would be different, and probably not as widely read, or made into a major motion picture. Little girls would not wear t-shirts of the princess, or have her coloring book, night lights and video games. No, the ‘fairy’ parts would be absent. But, the ending would, in all honesty, be better than any starry-eyed little girl could ever imagine.

Here is my version (we will call it the Carole’s Notes Version):

Once upon a time …

In a land not too far away, lived a young woman with many dreams in her head. She dreamed of her future every day, and went to the King daily to ask him to lead her in the direction he had for her, and for the strength to do all that she needed to do in order to fulfill those dreams. She knew that the fulfillment of her dreams was reliant on her, and her trust in the wisdom of the King. She knew that she would have to work hard, stay focused and not expect for her dreams to just fall into her lap.

She knew that her goals could only be obtained by first getting a good education, so she studied her best and worked at her school work as if it were her job.

This princess was one who worked hard at all that she did, but she also played hard, knew how to have fun and how to relax.

She also knew that her goals could not be obtained without the support of good friends … girl friends and boy friends. These relationships would be chosen ones, ones that encouraged her to be a better person, as well as relationships of sharing the experiences of growing up. Romance was not in the cards for her at this point in her life, because she knew that it would only serve to divert her attention from the goals set out for her by her own mind, and by the King.

The princess made efforts to be helpful and kind to those around her. She tried to treat others fairly and with mercy. She acknowledged that she was given much in her life, and she needed to share what she had with others.

Throughout her life, the princess pursued her dreams, and relied on the King, but doing good and living right did not always prevent bad, disappointing and sad things from happening in her life. When she was just a young woman her mother died. She did eventually meet a Prince of a man, and marry him, and they shared a deep love, but marriage, she found was not an easy thing, and there were times when she wished she had not married him (and times when she could tell her prince wished the same of his marriage to her). There were times when the pressures of paying the bills for their castle small house just about smothered the princess. The couple had children who they loved, but who did not always look, act or smell nice.

Life was not happily ever after for the princess, despite her best efforts at living well, but she did live a life of joy, always thanking the king for all that she had.

When she reached her later years, she was still seeking the wisdom of the King every day. He was the focus of her days, He was the anchor that kept her where she was, and heading in the same direction. He was her focus …

And when she was breathing her last, she heard the voice of the King whisper into her soul, “well done, good and faithful servant, come and share your King’s happiness” (Matthew 25:23) … and there, in that kingdom, she lived, happily ever after.

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I am getting old. I know this because when I look at magazine cover, I see youthful actresses in movies, I see lovely ladies advertise (usually their online ‘chat’ business) on television, and I turn away. And I turn away because I am past the ability to look as they do (and I do not have access to the air brushing that they do). I have come to the conclusion that even if I lost fifty (or eighty) pounds, even if my body was worked into a state of rock hard, even if I did everything possible (short of plastic surgery) I am beyond the ability to be the definition of what the world says is beautiful. Because I do not have the most important defining feature of beauty … youth.

As I am starting to get cozy with being in my forties, I am starting to see the world so differently. I am starting to see, and expand the definition of beauty differently.

Oh, I can walk down the street and have my eyes drawn to a beautiful young woman. Often though it is not her outward beauty that is what draws my eye. A physically beautiful woman can not even catch more than a passing glance if she does not walk confidently, shoulders back with her head high. There has to be something in that woman that says, ‘I am approachable’. There has to be something in her appearance that communicates to all around, that she is comfortable in her own skin, for those around to look at her and say, ‘she is beautiful’.

Or is it better put another way? Is it in her inner beauty coming out that her outer beauty can shine? When we pass a beautiful woman on the street, in the mall, at the market, do we see her outer beauty first, or do we see her confident head held high, that she is approachable, and that she is comfortable in her skin and something within us says ‘she is a beauty?’

I love to look on beauty … I love the eye candy that is pleasing to my visual senses. I love to see a beautifully decorated home (but I love more to know that it is indeed a home, and not just a house), I love to see the awesomeness of nature (but it is in the Creator that I am most impressed), I love to see family photos taken by a talented photographer (but it is in knowing that the family share the beauty of love that makes their eyes sparkle brightly). I believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and what the discriminating beholder sees most clearly is not the passing glance beauty, but the inner qualities of grace and confidence and openness.

It is also in a life lived fully that beauty emerges from the frame, from the pores, from the eyes and from the lips of a woman of real, genuine beauty. When a woman comes to the end of her years on planet Earth, when she has used up every day given to her, when she loves others beyond her own capacity to love … it is then that her beauty comes to surface.

I am no longer a youthful woman, with flawless physical beauty on my side (I do not think I ever had that). And yet, I feel more determined now than ever to live fully, to live passionately, to love beautifully. And my goal is that in forty or fifty years from now, my face is littered with the beauty marks of of something beautiful emerging from within … then I will be truly beautiful.

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A few years ago I wrote a blog post about swimming. And, more specifically, about the beautiful spirit that accompanies participation in swim club, and in swim meets. I revealed a particular true story of a swimmer, performing with everything within him (despite lack of experience, and a diagnosed disability), and the awe inspiring response of encouragement of everyone who witnessed his race (https://itsawonderfilledlife.net/2011/05/31/why-i-love-swim-meets/).

A delightful reader left a delightful comment. Within her comment she identified what I had written about as defined in the South African word, ‘Ubuntu’.

This word, previously unknown to me, means “I am because you are.” It is a word of mutual reliance, and of healthy co-dependency … it is a concept that our independent, individualistic, self-sufficient world would not only frown at, but also discourage.

But, humanly speaking, it is a word of depth … a word of truth.

For we ARE dependent on each other …

An unborn child is dependent on it’s mother … to survive

A newborn child is dependent on it’s parents/caregivers … to survive

A school aged child is dependent on it’s parents/caregivers/teachers … to survive

A teenager is dependent on their parents/caregivers/teachers/friends … to survive

An adult is dependent on their family/friends/employer … to thrive

A newlywed is dependent on their family/friends/employer/spouse/self-help book authors … to thrive

A new parent is dependent on their family/friends/employer/spouse/self-help book authors/doctor … to thrive (and survive)

A parent of a pre-teen/teen is dependent on their family/friends/employer/spouse/doctor/self-help book authors … to thrive (and survive)

A middle aged adult is dependent on their family/friends/employer/spouse/doctor/self-help book authors/doctor (plastic surgeon?) … to thrive (and survive)

An aging adult is dependent on their family/friends/spouse (if still alive)/doctorS/children and … Depends … to thrive (and survive … in public)

We need each other to survive. And the more we acknowledge our need for each other, the more we change how we treat each other. Because ‘others’ are no longer ‘competition’, but teammates. And ‘others’ are not longer just ‘a person’, but they become a someone.

We will look at everyone we come into contact with as a valid, integral part of our life.

We will notice the name tag of the cashier, and call them by their name. We will hold that door for the person a few feet behind us. We will help the stranger whose arms are burdened with papers or parcels. We will say hello to a passerby, and smile to tell them it was our pleasure to cross paths with them. We will remove our fingers from the computer, and give our attention fully to our spouse, or child. We will think before we speak …

I wonder, what a day with a heart of ubuntu would look like?

To live any other way, is to live a narcissistic (ode to Narcissus who fell in love with his reflection in the water … kind of like my beast) existence.

I encourage you,

I encourage me,

to live today with ubuntu in every step!

“Ubuntu speaks of the very essence of being human.

We say “Hey, so-and-so has ubuntu.”

Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate.

You share what you have.

It is to say, “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.”

We belong in a bundle of life.

We say, “A person is a person through other persons.”

Desmond Tutu

Read Full Post »

I am getting old. I know this because when I look at magazine cover, I see youthful actresses in movies, I see lovely ladies advertise (usually their online ‘chat’ business) on television, and I turn away. And I turn away because I am past the ability to look as they do (and I do not have access to the air brushing that they do). I have come to the conclusion that even if I lost fifty (or eighty) pounds, even if my body was worked into a state of rock hard, even if I did everything possible (short of plastic surgery) I am beyond the ability to be the definition of what the world says is beautiful. Because I do not have the most important defining feature of beauty … youth.

As I am starting to get cozy with being in my forties, I am starting to see the world so differently. I am starting to see, and expand the definition of beauty differently.

Oh, I can walk down the street and have my eyes drawn to a beautiful young woman. Often though it is not her outward beauty that is what draws my eye. A physically beautiful woman can not even catch more than a passing glance if she does not walk confidently, shoulders back with her head high. There has to be something in that woman that says, ‘I am approachable’. There has to be something in her appearance that communicates to all around, that she is comfortable in her own skin, for those around to look at her and say, ‘she is beautiful’.

Or is it better put another way? Is it in her inner beauty coming out that her outer beauty can shine? When we pass a beautiful woman on the street, in the mall, at the market, do we see her outer beauty first, or do we see her confident head held high, that she is approachable, and that she is comfortable in her skin and something within us says ‘she is a beauty?’

I love to look on beauty … I love the eye candy that is pleasing to my visual senses. I love to see a beautifully decorated home (but I love more to know that it is indeed a home, and not just a house), I love to see the awesomeness of nature (but it is in the Creator that I am most impressed), I love to see family photos taken by a talented photographer (but it is in knowing that the family share the beauty of love that makes their eyes sparkle brightly). I believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and what the discriminating beholder sees most clearly is not the passing glance beauty, but the inner qualities of grace and confidence and openness.

It is also in a life lived fully that beauty emerges from the frame, from the pores, from the eyes and from the lips of a woman of real, genuine beauty. When a woman comes to the end of her years on planet Earth, when she has used up every day given to her, when she loves others beyond her own capacity to love … it is then that her beauty comes to surface.

I am no longer a youthful woman, with flawless physical beauty on my side (I do not think I ever had that). And yet, I feel more determined now than ever to live fully, to live passionately, to love beautifully. And my goal is that in forty or fifty years from now, my face is littered with the beauty marks of of something beautiful emerging from within … then I will be truly beautiful.

Read Full Post »

A few years ago I wrote a blog post about swimming. And, more specifically, about the beautiful spirit that accompanies participation in swim club, and in swim meets. I revealed a particular true story of a swimmer, performing with everything within him (despite lack of experience, and a diagnosed disability), and the awe inspiring response of encouragement of everyone who witnessed his race (https://itsawonderfilledlife.net/2011/05/31/why-i-love-swim-meets/).

A delightful reader left a delightful comment. Within her comment she identified what I had written about as defined in the South African word, ‘Ubuntu’.

This word, previously unknown to me, means “I am because you are.” It is a word of mutual reliance, and of healthy co-dependency … it is a concept that our independent, individualistic, self-sufficient world would not only frown at, but also discourage.

But, humanly speaking, it is a word of depth … a word of truth.

For we ARE dependent on each other …

An unborn child is dependent on it’s mother … to survive

A newborn child is dependent on it’s parents/caregivers … to survive

A school aged child is dependent on it’s parents/caregivers/teachers … to survive

A teenager is dependent on their parents/caregivers/teachers/friends … to survive

An adult is dependent on their family/friends/employer … to thrive

A newlywed is dependent on their family/friends/employer/spouse/self-help book authors … to thrive

A new parent is dependent on their family/friends/employer/spouse/self-help book authors/doctor … to thrive (and survive)

A parent of a pre-teen/teen is dependent on their family/friends/employer/spouse/doctor/self-help book authors … to thrive (and survive)

A middle aged adult is dependent on their family/friends/employer/spouse/doctor/self-help book authors/doctor (plastic surgeon?) … to thrive (and survive)

An aging adult is dependent on their family/friends/spouse (if still alive)/doctorS/children and … Depends … to thrive (and survive … in public)

We need each other to survive. And the more we acknowledge our need for each other, the more we change how we treat each other. Because ‘others’ are no longer ‘competition’, but teammates. And ‘others’ are not longer just ‘a person’, but they become a someone.

We will look at everyone we come into contact with as a valid, integral part of our life.

We will notice the name tag of the cashier, and call them by their name. We will hold that door for the person a few feet behind us. We will help the stranger whose arms are burdened with papers or parcels. We will say hello to a passerby, and smile to tell them it was our pleasure to cross paths with them. We will remove our fingers from the computer, and give our attention fully to our spouse, or child. We will think before we speak …

I wonder, what a day with a heart of ubuntu would look like?

To live any other way, is to live a narcissistic (ode to Narcissus who fell in love with his reflection in the water … kind of like my beast) existence.

I encourage you,

I encourage me,

to live today with ubuntu in every step!

“Ubuntu speaks of the very essence of being human.

We say “Hey, so-and-so has ubuntu.”

Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate.

You share what you have.

It is to say, “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.”

We belong in a bundle of life.

We say, “A person is a person through other persons.”

Desmond Tutu

Read Full Post »

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