Forgiveness, the Marathon, and the Inspired Work of Art

marathon4So, then, what do forgiveness, running the marathon, and contemplating a magnificent work of art all have in common?

They are all hard to accomplish, said one.

They are all impossible if we are realistic about the human endeavor, said another.

They are all cruel ideals to make each of us feel inferior, said the third.

And yet, I wonder.  Surely, one can forgive those who offend.  Some can run the marathon.  I know someone who finished the Boston Marathon nine years in a row.  And contemplating great art is feasible as long as we let the beauty speak to us rather than our trying to define it and therefore reduce it.

Michelangelo - The Pieta
Michelangelo – The Pieta

Forgiveness, running the marathon, and contemplating great art all stretch us, ask us to see farther down the road, challenge us to grow beyond our current self.

They all awaken in us the call to greatness.  They all challenge us to see that life is more than going to work, collecting a paycheck, and kicking back on the weekend, only to repeat the cycle seemingly endlessly until we retire.

Forgiveness is a heroic virtue because it asks us to so stretch ourselves that we are good to those who are not good to us.  The marathon shows us that we can go beyond our expected capacity, that we have a reserve that can be discovered by the strong will.  The contemplation of inspired works of art challenges us to see that there is more to this world than we can see and hear and taste and touch in our ordinary surroundings.  There is a greatness awaiting us, if only we have the courage to look.

forgivenesssetsyoufreeWe all can begin by forgiving a loved one for a minor injustice.  We all can start to walk and then run and lift that weight even if it does not translate into over 26 miles of challenge.  We all can create and contemplate what others around us create even if none of these will see its way to a Florentine gallery.  And we can keep raising the bar on whom to forgive, what exercises challenge us, and what magnificent art really is.

We all can start stretching ourselves today.  Forgiveness, the marathon, and inspired great art are all calls to us to move forward, to be better than we are today, to reach and then achieve.

Robert

On the Strong Will

To forgive another who has hurt you, you need to do certain things like seeing the other as truly human and not defining that person only by the unjust acts. Yet, there is more than doing; there is persevering internally, within yourself. It takes a certain degree of tenacity to stay with the process of forgiving another because forgiveness can be hard work, especially if the injustice against you is severe.

Once you have forgiven another, it takes more perseverance and tenacity to forgive We Can Do Itanother person and then another. To stay at forgiving rather than sinking into bitterness or pessimism takes the strong will. “But, I already tried forgiveness…..and I keep getting hurt.” No matter how many times you have been hurt, you can reduce that hurt by forgiving. Think about it for a moment: To what in your life do you keep going back to regardless of difficulty and struggle? Where in your life do you not quit no matter what?  Your answer will show you that you have a strong will in some areas of your life.

Why not, then, apply that strong will to forgiving? Why let pessimism have even a minute of your time? Your strong will can keep pessimism away.

The strong will needs to be understood, nurtured, and practiced in the context of forgiving. Long live the strong will.

Robert

Future Forgiveness Again

Do you realize that your practicing forgiveness now may pay unexpected dividends for you decades from now? As an example, look at how the Amish community handled the tragedy in Pennsylvania in 2006. The world wondered how the community could stand in forgiveness after 10 Pot of Goldgirls were shot and 5 died.  The answer: Forgiveness is part of their daily culture.

Please realize that each decision and each act of forgiveness now may pay great dividends for you and others 20 years from now. Forgiveness today is an investment in your future.
Robert

Future Forgiveness for You

To grow in any virtue is similar to building muscle in the gym through persistent hard work. We surely do not want to overdo anything, including the pursuit of fitness.

Yet, we must avoid under-doing it, too, if we are to continue to grow. It
Muscles3is the same with forgiveness. We need to be persistently developing our forgiveness muscles as we become forgivingly fit. This opportunity is now laid out before you. What will you choose? Will you choose a life of diversion, comfort, and pleasure, or the more exciting life of risking love, challenging yourself to forgive, and helping others in their forgiveness fitness?

Enright, Robert D. (2012-07-05). The Forgiving LifeA Pathway to Overcoming Resentment and Creating a Legacy of Love (APA Lifetools) (Kindle Locations 5359-5360). American Psychological Association. Kindle Edition.

Barriers to Forgiveness, Part 9: Impatience

Patience. To forgive requires much patience because we cannot rush the process; we cannot will the end of the pain; we cannot automatically change the one who hurt us. Patience with perseverance…..and an acceptance of the suffering are keys.

PatienceWhen we have impatience with the forgiveness process we are misunderstanding what the process is.  It unfolds.  We do not rush through it. I have come to realize that this unfolding, this waiting for relief from the suffering, is a time of strengthening. It is a time of learning a greater humility. We are not the ones who always are in control.

In the waiting comes wisdom. We learn more about ourselves and our ability to endure even when there is great pain. We learn who other people are. They can hurt us, but ultimately they cannot destroy us from our inside because we see our own strength developing. Out of waiting comes a stretching of our patience and a shrinking of our impatience. Out of waiting comes growth as persons.

Robert

Seeing Beyond the Tears

Sometimes when we are caught up in grief and anger, it seems like this is all there will ever be now in our life.
TearsPermanent tears.  Permanent anger.

Yet, please take a look at two different times in your life in which you were steeped in heartache or rage. The tears came…..and they left.

Today it may seem like these will never end…..but they will.

Take a lesson from your own past. The pains were temporary.

They are temporary even now.Quote 2

Forgiveness helps them to be temporary.

Robert

Barriers to Forgiveness, Part 8: Pleasure-Seeking

Last week, I was on an airplane to New York City.  At one point, I started to flip through the airline magazine and this is what I found: page after page was filled with self-indulgences of every kind imaginable.  ThereBarriers were waterfalls and fancy restaurants and fine chocolates and the newest fashions.  Not once was there a message of self-sacrifice or service to others.  I guess such self-sacrifice is not profitable.

The message of self-indulgence stayed with me.  If we are bombarded with constant messages of pleasure, will we become a society that exalts this to a norm, in which pleasure-seeking becomes an accepted way of life?  If so, we may stop examining the assumption that a pleasure-seeking life is one that is not worth living, if our goal is genuine happiness.  When we stop such an examination and give in to pleasure all the time, we may find life to be rather Apple in handmeaningless.  After all, what does one do when all the chocolates are gone or the trip to the hidden chalet is over and the new fashion is, well, not so fashionable any more?

Forgiveness as self-sacrificial service to others is a message diametrically opposed to the messages in that airline magazine.  OK, so I am fuming at her injustice…..pass the bon-bons.  OK, so I am enraged with his firing me……let’s go on a trip.  Pleasure-as-diversion can hide the pain in need of cleansing.  Pleasure-as-self-help may weaken the will to fight for mercy and forgiveness.  One’s energy to be in service to others may weaken.

Hard work and pleasure-seeking surely can be in balance in a full life.  The magazine did not give such a balanced message.  That made me worry……for forgiveness…..for strong wills to give of ourselves even when it is not pleasurable to do so.  May we never over-indulge in pleasure to the point of losing our way with forgiveness, which, in the long run, may produce much more happiness than one more chocolate with an orange center.

Robert