Out in front of the church, we have one of those changeable-copy signs like a lot of churches have. Every week or so, I put up a sign saying, but I always wish I had a little more space. Thank you for reading the sign and following for more information!
I remember gardening with my grandmother years ago. One job we did every year was picking about half an acre of purple hull peas. Looking back, it wasn’t a big job, but I remember finishing the job and having to walk around all hunched over for a while – my back had stiffened up while I was working, and I couldn’t stand up straight! In a lot of ways, grudges are like that. They force us into uncomfortable positions, and they can keep us there with a variety of different kinds of pain. In the end, though, grudges take a toll on our mental and emotional well-being and may not help us at all.
Holding a grudge is burdensome because it requires so much energy to maintain. Keeping a grudge means we are thinking about the person or situation, and how it hurt us. Not only is this mentally and emotionally draining, but it can lead to feelings of anger, frustration, and even depression. It interferes with our ability to move on and can prevent us from finding closure, healing, and even growth.
Grudges can also negatively impact our relationships. When we hold a grudge, it can be difficult to communicate with them and maintain a healthy relationship. This is especially true when we don’t get to choose those relationships – like with our co-workers.
Besides, holding a grudge is not an effective way to deal with hurt or wrongdoing. Instead, it's important to find ways to process and release our negative feelings. This can involve talking to a therapist, journaling, meditating, or practicing forgiveness. Many times, we will need help with any or all of these practices. Forgiveness, especially, is hard. But remember that forgiveness is not about excusing or ignoring the hurt, but rather about releasing the negative emotions associated with it.
Letting go of grudges isn’t easy, and it will take time, but it can free you from the burden you carry and help you move on with your life.
Over the years, many writers have claimed different things are the “thief of joy.” Time, age, anxiety, death, anticipation, worry, and many others. Certainly, each of those can steal your joy or poison your attitude. Comparison, also, steals your ability to enjoy your own circumstances. Either we compare ourselves to those who have less (which can make us sad, disappointed, haughty, or judgmental), or we compare ourselves to those who have more (which can cause jealousy, anger, resentment, shame, guilt, or a number of other feelings). Comparison is easy for all of us, and we often do it in ways that support our own struggles or preconceptions. It can be much more difficult to see what we have, thank those who have helped us, enjoy our blessings, and seek to be a blessing to others in turn. Yet each one of those steps are doorways to joy, connection, authenticity, and gratefulness. Life is not just about joy, and joy comes from more than just stuff, but let us all strive to bring joy to others and live joyfully as well.
There's a lot happening in the world from Thanksgiving to New Years. Work is thrown off, families are scrambled, and I often forget what the date is! (Especially between Christmas and New Years!) Even though it's so busy, and maybe because it's so busy, we can become overwhelmed with the stress and obligations instead of overwhelmed by the opportunities for love, support, friendship, hope, or peace of this season. This may be an especially difficult time in your life or in the life of someone you love. However your day has gone, however the holidays are going, you are loved. You are seen. You are heard. And your presence makes a difference.
(If you or a loved one are in crisis, please dial Lifeline at 988.)
We live in a world dominated by ads. We usually don't forget this, but we usually don't think about the effects the constant bombardment of ads has on us. It is typical for advertisers to sell us their products by convincing us that we need it - that we aren't good enough (yet).
But! if we had their magazine/exercise bike/phone/meal/car/gadget, then we would be happy. It's obvious why they do this. It's also obvious, when we think about it, how silly that sounds. What is harder is understanding that we are enough right now. We don't need a gadget to be good enough. We are already created in the image of God. We are enough right now. Sure, we will continue to grow. We will learn and develop and mature (we hope). But those things don't make us more worthy.
And when we run across the person who thinks we are too much? Who want us to shrink back, to hide, to change, or to be less so that they will like us, as if our value is based in their perceeption or opinion? As Elyse Myers says, "go find less."
Have you ever gotten so caught up in the details of something that you completely missed the reason you were doing it at all? I've done that. I've gotten so focused on getting a meal "right" that I forget my family actually needs to eat some time in the next few hours! This kind of thing can be difficult at the holidays - Thanksgiving especially. We get so caught up in having the perfect turkey, potatoes, pies, table setting, or whatever that we forget the reasons we are together and the wonderful opportunity we have to be thankful. I think we would probably have a much better Thanksgiving with pizza and sandwiches than with a feast and all the stress that goes with it. Besides, the dishes are so much faster if you just eat with napkins! Especially if your family travels a long way, it's important to realize there's no turkey on earth worth a cross-country trip. We travel to be together. What can you do to make the holidays more personal this year?
There are days where I'm working hard to just get things accomplished at all. It may not be perfect. It may not be pretty. But I tried. And the message gets across. Those are days I need grace. I'm sure you have them, too. Days where you don't have enough letters or spoons or bandwidth or whatever analogy you use. Other people have those days, too. We all need grace every day. We need grace from one another. The grace to be imperfect and accepted. The grace to be loved for who we are. We need grace from ourselves. Grace to not be our optimal self every day. And most of all, we need grace from God. We need to know that the One Who created us, Who knows us better than we know ourselves, loves us and wants to be with us.
For a lot of us, grace is a word used for musicians, monarchy, or meals. Maybe athletics. But it's not a word we use very often for the way we treat other people. This is especially true when we are driving! We will often recognize the reasons behind our own mistakes or unusual decisions (have you ever driven with a full crock pot of chili in the car?) But we have a harder time recognizing when others need that same grace. An exercise I was taught years ago was to imagine the circumstances that would help explain another person's difficult behavior. Why would a person need to drive so fast? What could be happening in a person's life that would cause them to get that frustrated with another person? What would cause this person to care so much about such an inconsequential thing? once I figured out what Could be happening, it became easier for me to extend grace regardless of what had actually happened.
It's election time again. And regardless of party affiliation or job responsibility, we all hope our representatives will use their time in office working to empower us. Certainly, we can point out any number of powerful people who have used that power for selfish reasons (this is true in any field). We forget sometimes how powerful we can be. We forget how often we can choose to build up and encourage. We forget how powerful kind words can be. No matter how much power you have, use it to benefit others - especially when they are different from you.