The Anti-New-Year’s Resolution!

Amber Flesch

We see them every year — but only for about a month, maybe up to three months for the real go-getters — that’s right, the New Year’s Resolutionaries!  They flood the gym and take over your treadmill, they hop on the latest diet-trend band wagon, gidgets and gadgets galore are gathered up for achieving new goals. Come about March or May those New Year resolutions lists and goal-reaching gadgets are scarce to be found, merely a memory. Sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve even been a NY Resolutionary yourself? I think we all have. Strong and steady with our brand-new, shine-y dreams and goals for a new year, until the first road bump knocks us down! “Aaah, well, at least I tried!” we sigh with resignation, “Maybe next year.”

How about if this year we all make an Anti-New-Year’s Resolution to reach our forgiveness goals? Let’s anticipate and prepare for our moment of weakness or “failure” – the point at which we fall down. Tripping up on life’s impending road blocks and obstacles is an imminent reality. We’ve heard it said before, “anything worth doing is worth doing wrong.” We all struggle, we all fall down. The only difference between those who fail and those who succeed, and what makes a hero is the getting back up! And you don’t have to wait for the dawn of a new year to get up and try again!

Whether it’s January 1st or June 11 does not matter! Brush yourself off and make an Anti-New-Year’s Resolution today and every day, realizing that each day is a new beginning, not just New Year’s Day. In fact, for a more positive twist (albeit a little cliché-sounding) let’s call it an “Every-Day’s-a-New-Day Resolution.”

Here are some concrete steps for your Every-Day’s-a-New-Day Resolution; “when” (not if) you fall down:

  1. Re-evaluate (What went wrong and why?)
  2. Re-strategize (How do I overcome this moving forward? What changes can I make?)
  3. Re-focus (What/who is my motivation?)
  4. Re-group (Who is my support team or advocate?)
  5. RE-Resolve! – NOW is the time to move forward with the persistence and patience of the tortoise closing in on the unsuspecting hare, with the stubbornness of a relentless mule, the ferocity and courage of a mother lioness protecting her young, the resilience of Rudolf forging through the meanest blizzard to guide Santa’s sleigh!

OK, seriously? Truly more inspiring than a tortoise or reindeer are these real-life, every-day forgiveness heroes:

Read about Frank who with his altruistic, giving nature, overcomes his struggles and frustrations over an unfair promotional system. Realizing that forgiveness is a work in progress, he motivates himself by focusing on the reason for his forgiving — his students. Who are people in your life who could use a hero like Frank? Who is your motivation to forgive?

Who are people in your life who could use a hero like Frank? Who is your motivation to forgive?

Draw inspiration from Margaret’s honest, self-revealing evaluation of the anger and resentment draining her energy and holding her thoughts captive. (Margaret’s Story) She is persistent and patient in her daily foot-race against this unhealthy anger.How long will this journey take? If you start today, you’ll be that much further ahead tomorrow. How often must I work towards forgiveness? Slow and steady wins the journey of forgiveness; freedom, hope, joy, and peace are some of the many rewards!

What are your forgiveness goals?

Are you wondering how to get started? Check out the 4 Phases of Forgiveness to guide you through the process

Make your goals concrete by sharing them with others on our forums page. This is a great way we can support each other in our ongoing Every-Day’s-a-New-Day Forgiveness Resolutions!

Make an effort today to start your goals and if you fall tomorrow, get up and try again! Have a Happy New Day!

Immediate January Term Internship Opportunity

Despite 14 years of civil war, the future of Liberia is not without hope. In partnership with Dr. Robert Enright, licensed psychologist and professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the International Forgiveness Institute, Inc., and Grace Network, the Student Mobilization Centre is seeking students and volunteers to help teach Enright???s Forgiveness Education curriculum to primary school teachers in Liberia. To read more about this opportunity??click here.

Margaret

I knew I had a problem when I accidentally slammed my own finger in the car door, and cried out in anger at her. I hadn’t even seen her in 4 months, but I had worn a deep anger rut in my thoughts–anger directed at her for the unjust treatment I had received.

Now here I stood, alone, actually angry at myself, nursing my swollen thumb and fuming about her offenses. “How could she! What was her problem…” echoed in my head. My faith and values taught me that I should forgive, and I even wanted to do it. I had read about forgiveness and encouraged my students to take steps toward forgiveness, but here I stood unable to shake my own resentment. I knew I had a problem.

An honest assessment of my life revealed that I was thinking about the offenses daily. I often caught myself fuming while doing menial tasks at work or around the house. It just wasn’t fair. It was just so complicated. And I just needed to get free of it…

Over the next few weeks, I opened Dr. Enright’s Forgiveness Is a Choice, and journaled through many of his suggested questions. I went and talked it over with a trusted priest, and confessed my resentment. He suggested that I pray, “God forgive in me what I am unable to forgive.” I prayed this daily (and every time the bitterness and resentment reared its ugly head) for weeks, and continued to work my way through the book. Slowly (almost imperceptibly slowly), the resentment was displaced by sorrow for her, then compassion. Some days it was one step forward, two steps back, but with patience and a little effort every day, I found freedom, then peace.

I now have much more compassion for those who struggle to let go of anger. Forgiveness is hard. It’s hero’s work. I learned that real heroes are nothing like what we see in movies. Real heroes take little steps every day, even when they don’t feel like making the effort and they struggle to see any resulting change. They build great strength and discipline before they ever see any glimmer of the change they hope to make. In time, they also get to experience great joy and peace, whether or not anyone else happens to notice.

To all of you who are struggling to get free of the resentment and let go of the anger (that you have a right to), I’m praying for you. You can do it, one little step at a time.

Anonymous

My father left the family when I was 6 years old. My mother had to work two jobs and support my sister and me. When I first heard of forgiveness, I thought it was a nutty idea. Why would I want to say that what my father did was ok? I have to admit to feeling a kind of rage whenever the topic of forgiveness came up. How dare he leave his family? I got madder when he came around as I was about to enter college. Both my sister and I had done well. We achieved in school and were making something of ourselves. Then in waltzes my father and all is supposed to be well? Forgiveness is for those who can’t think straight—at least this is how I saw it. Once I started looking into forgiveness more, i realized that I do not say, “It’s OK,” when I forgive. I am not letting my father off the hook. I am saying that leaving the family is wrong and even so I can love him and have compassion on him. I have come to realize that his own father did the same and also had a serious problem with alcohol. My father never really had love from his father. He did not have a good role model about how to be a good father. He has to own what he did, but he is not an evil person. Yes, he is confused and hurt, but he is not a bad man. When I realized this, I was able to respond to his phone calls and even meet with him. We still have a long way to go, but my forgiving him opened the door to our reunion. He has his own work to do, too, and I am hoping he can do it and have a more stable life.

Frank

I am a vice principal of an elementary school in Florida. I have a doctoral degree and my goal has been to be a principal in the future. My beef is with the educational system. It seems to me that there is an expectation that all of us as administrators have to be the same—kind of rigid, never smile, never relaxed. Administrators are an unhappy bunch. I am in the process of forgiving the people in the district office because I have not been promoted yet. This is not sour grapes. I have had to fill in for our principal at times and I get high marks from the teachers. I treat each one as a human being and I do the same for the students. I am forgiving out of a sense of frustration. I am trying to see the people in the district office as people (sure, imperfect people), worthy of my time and my respect. I have to admit that it is a struggle. I have to work at this every day. I can’t say that I have completed the task. My forgiveness is a work in progress. I want to do this so that my frustration eases and so that I can communicate with the district office personnel in a humane and civil way. I also think that the students in my school will benefit as I continue to struggle after forgiveness because I will not let any anger spill over to them. This is important to me. The students deserve my best.

Anonymous

A significant experience of forgiveness was returning home to my Catholic faith.

It had been over 20 years since I had experienced the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I remember well that I had been experiencing a lot of restlessness and anxiety. Then I decided to go to this sacrament. I was very nervous, but after much prayer, I had a strong prompting in my heart to take this step.

After I went, the burden of restlessness and anxiety was lifted within my heart! I had received a great gift from God within this beautiful healing sacrament. It was God’s divine grace that took away my sins because I had received the gift of forgiveness from God. I had built up layers of dust within my heart. (One definition of sin: “an often serious shortcoming.” Merriam-Webster dictionary.)

After I have read Dr. Enright’s book, “Forgiveness Is A Choice”, I have learned much more on the importance and healing of this most important act of forgiveness. It does take time to learn how to forgive, and it can be a painful process. No pain, no gain. I realize that forgiveness is an essential key element in also loving others too.

I am so very grateful that Dr. Enright has stayed the course in this most important work. He is truly a gift to others in helping us all to learn how to forgive which helps to heal the broken heart and this leads to true and everlasting peace.

God bless Dr. Enright and all those at the International Forgiveness Institute. I was also touched to be asked to write a moment of forgiveness, which I hope and pray that it can help others as well.

Jennifer

My story concerns forgiving myself. I would be embarrassed to say exactly what I did and so I will skip that. I even changed my name to protect the not-so-innocent. When I forgave myself the first thing I did was ask forgiveness from God. As a Christian, I know that my sins can be forgiven. The remaining problem for me is that even though I knew that God had forgiven me, I just could not let go of the guilt. It was eating me alive and it did not help when well meaning people asked me, “Are you more powerful than God? If not, then just let go and accept the forgiveness.” I tried that and I was still miserable.

Then I tried to forgive myself, not as a substitute for God’s forgiveness, but something that comes alongside that and works with it. I decided to offer a quietness toward myself, an understanding that I can fall as everyone does. Maybe this will sound a little funny, but I began to realize that I can have compassion on myself. To me this means that I will put down the whip and stop beating myself up over what I did. Actually, without that compassion I was pretty much punishing myself for something that happened in the past and I cannot go back there and make it right. The compassion toward myself combined with the assurance of God’s forgiveness of me set me free. And I am never going back into that place of guilt again. I have been set free of that and I am thankful that both types of forgiveness, God’s and mine, are possible in this tough world.