Broken Fences: Freedom in Forgiveness

The other day I was having a usual deep philosophical discussion with my daughter, Maddie. I talked to her about how a person can make up for past mistakes. The analogy I gave was one I heard awhile ago. If you walk past a fence and knock it down, you have to go back and repair or replace the fence. We discussed intent. That’s an important question. There is more culpability if you knock the fence down on purpose. However, imagine that you walked by with a stick and didn’t know you were knocking down the fence. It was an accident. I explained that the fence is still broken because of your action so you have to go back and fix it. She said something incredibly insightful. Maddie said, “It depends what the fence owner thinks. Maybe he would understand it was just a mistake and it’s okay. You don’t have to go back and fix it. He’d take care of it.” She makes a great point. God is a fence owner who understands and He keeps fixing our mistakes if we ask Him to.

Most people agree that holding on to our past mistakes or grudges against others who have hurt us, will leave us standing in the same spot or going backwards. So why is it so hard for us to make the choice to move on? Many times it is the simple fact that we are unwilling to forgive ourselves and/or others. I’ve heard people say that forgiving others is important because it benefits the forgivers by offering a release, making them feel better. This is favorable for their own health and other personal relationships. I believe this to be true, however it lacks motivation. If we were to act on what makes us feel better, than we would probably be more likely to hold on to that anger. Anger feels good because it feels like justice. Several years back I had dinner with the Dean of the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, Gladys Sweeney. In her scholarly fashion she stated, “Mercy is the ultimate form of justice, but if we do not know love, we cannot know this.” If God forgives us and loves us, then are we not called to forgive and love others in just the same manner?

Making amends for the harm we have caused others is another step in finding freedom from the bondage of the past. If it is possible to make it up to the person you have harmed, try to do that. There is no way to go back and change the past, but we have right now and hopefully time in the future to make up for our transgressions. Over time, people do heal by our love and affirmative actions. If it is not possible to do good for someone you have wronged, then do good for others. If you stole or cheated someone, give back what you have taken. If you are unable to give restitution directly to that person, make a donation to a charity. There are many places who will gladly accept donations. For example, there are many organizations who help more than 11 million Syrian refugees, many of them children. Organizations like Catholic Relief Services have helped over 1.25 million war affected Syrians by providing food, basic supplies, shelter and clear information about legal options for seeking asylum and international protection. You may also find a local organization to donate, such as Give To Others. The point is to be proactive to build up and restore others to make up for causing damage or being destructive, whether it was accidental or deliberate. Making the world a better place in some way can help us make peace with ourselves by knowing we contributed to others growth and well being.

Everyone makes mistakes. Our imperfections make us human. Forgiving ourselves makes us kinder toward others. If we make the decision to forgive, we begin to heal. We will also see ourselves with more clarity. If we examine why we committed our offenses, most of the time we will see that we acted out of some type of need. The greatest human need is to be loved. Many mistakes are made because we need love and do not know how to get it. Knowing our needs helps us to avoid future mistakes and find healthier ways of meeting our needs. Whatever haunts you, face it, do your best to make amends. Then bury it. For good.

Summer Lovin’: 4 Tips to Get Ready For Summer (And Weight Loss is Only One of Them!)

Summer has suddenly parked itself right in front of us. Don’t panic, even if you haven’t seen your legs (or anything else in daylight) since last November. However brief, Spring gives us a great window of opportunity to maximize our Summer experience. A few steps and you’ll be on your way to a fabulous Summer!
1. Evaluate the Situation and Act. That extra 5-10 pounds? I’m calling it a defense mechanism against the cold weather. We just don’t need the insulation anymore. Figure out honestly just how much insulation you’d like to get rid of. But ladies, for God’s sake, don’t punish or starve yourselves. You are more than the ever changing and subjective numbers on your clothes. Instead, pick an activity that you enjoy and make time for yourself to do it. I recently bought the first bike I’ve ever owned. Riding is not a chore or drudgery, like the gym at 5 am (I’m actually nauseous just thinking about it!) Biking is something I look forward to and it also gets me into tip top shape. Find your activity and have some fun!
2. Wear the Correct Size Clothing. As a former Booking Director at AMS Models & Talent, I can assure you that unless you’re an 18-25 year old runway model, size doesn’t matter. However, what does matter is that you are wearing clothes that fit you, not 1-2 sizes too small. This is a common mistake in a size obsessed culture. It’s also an issue because a 12 in one brand is an 8 in another. Again, get over the number. Make sure your clothes fit you. Wearing clothes that are too small looks sloppy and can actually make you look bigger than you are. Not to mention the discomfort of cutting off your circulation. Imagine a life where you’re not desperate to get home just to unbutton your pants. 🙂 This leads to my next tip.
3. Be Kind to Yourself. Take inventory. Trust me, even supermodels don’t look like supermodels. They are heavily made up and then photoshopped. Don’t compare yourself to someone who isn’t even real. Figure out your attributes and accent them. Everyone has something that makes them beautiful. Remember, there is nothing more attractive than personality and kindness. My guess is that if we are kinder and more encouraging to ourselves, we’ll be kinder and more encouraging to others, leading to an overall sense of happiness. You are beautiful!
4. Make a Checklist to Get Summer Ready. It can be overwhelming when you think of all you have to do after being bundled in layers for months. It is also very expensive. Make a list of all you have to do to be the best version of yourself. Then, choose your plan of attack. If you cannot afford to go to the spa, google ideas on how do it for yourself at home. One popular trend is to use coffee grounds to exfoliate your skin. A Spa service provider, Ha, insists the result is baby soft skin. (Caution! This may wreak havoc on your tub). You may also decide to get one service a week until you are in good shape for Summer. Making a Summer maintenance “To Do” list will help you manage time and your wallet, and keep stress at bay.
I was recently reminded by my friend and Dale Carnegie educator, Jeff Goldstein, that we should always be enthusiastic no matter what age we are. No excuses! The trick is to focus on what we want, not the cost of getting there. The point of getting ready for Summer is that we can enjoy it. These tips are only a few ways to help in the process.