Monday, February 18, 2008

THE AGE OF MIRACLES...Profound New Learnings!

Sometimes life's learnings come at me in such a fast and furious fashion that it takes time to digest them!

Sometimes God has a way of getting my attention and while I can feel a bit overwhelmed, I am eternally grateful for a chance to grow, change, and learn about myself... in a deeper more meaningful way.

In short...I am in a time of profound inner change. It's as if the "inner work" I have done the past few years is starting to manifest itself clearly in my life. That inner work and wisdom has to do with embracing all of my life and all that I am! It is about seeing life more clearly. It's about taking my "Life Lessons at 61" and naming and claiming them.

It's also about acknowledging that when you "do the outer work"..the work on my body and losing 35 pounds...the inner work starts to make more sense. This may seem overly complex to some of you who read this. Yet it is part of a "New Midlife Journey" that I am taking!

It's part of having more of my life behind me than is in front of me. Sometimes there simply comes a time in our lives- not fundamentally different from the way puberty separates childhood from adulthood- when it's time for one part of ourselves to die and for something new to be born.

It's time for me to let go of some old habits that no longer serve me well!

I will try to make sense of a few of my latest learnings in this post:

LEARNING #1: Don't Take Things Personally and Offer Compassion

This past week seemed filled with people who were outwardly angry and bitter and yet were inwardly hurt and venting. One was a student, the other a college colleague. My first response is to get angry back. My second response is to get them out of my life and say "no more, you suck, I want nothing to do with you! " While my initial response was fairly familiar, it didn't take long for a new and deeper compassion to bubble forth. It is possible that after a year of working on the "Four Agreements" amazing book that is a life-time guide...that I am actually making progress in NOT TAKING THINGS PERSONALLY!

This is a HUGE step for me!

I could see both of these people as being so much more than their response. I didn't have to do anything but hold out care and love to them. I didn't feel so afraid that I had to make them wrong! More importantly I could look at them and ask the question..."How does what they did, in some form or another, remind me of me?"

LEARNING #2: Who Do I Need To Forgive and Reconcile With?

On Valentines Day Bert and I were a part of a charity event at the Bing Crosby Theatre. We were part of raising funds for a children's orphanage in Ruwanda. Our choir from church came to sing there! Just another item to do on the 'ol "to do list"? Truthfully it was....until the program began.

A little historical background..Ruwanda went through a massive genocide in 1994 while the world sat and watched. Over 1 million people were slaughtered. The war was between two Ruwandan tribes...Hutu and Tutsi.( See the movie Hotel Ruwanda) Even families that had intermarried between the two tribes found husbands slaughtering their wives. When the smoke cleared, how do you put a country back together where people saw a neighbor slaughter their whole family?

The Ruwandans conducted outdoor "Chochnas" , which means "on the grass". These were trials where the victims confronted those who had destroyed their lives. If the perpetrator was honest, and genuinely remorseful during this trial on the grass, he or she was forgiven (truly forgiven) and brought back into community.

Arlene Brown, the speaker at this event who gave up everything she had to go to Ruwanda to build an orphanage there, told this powerful story of reconciliation. A Tutsi woman (a wife and mother of three small children) watched a young man she knew in her village (he was 18 and a Hutu) slaughter her entire beloved family. She watched this neighbor boy take a machete' and chop up her husband and children in front of her. She was destroyed by the horror of this experience.

At their village "chochna" or trial several years later, the young man confessed his deep grief for what he had done and asked for the woman's forgiveness. Eventually, after much soul searching, she told him she could forgive him if he did one thing. "What was that?" he asked.

She wanted him to move in with her and be her son.

Whaaaaaaat you might ask? Be her son? Are you kidding me?

She told him that in letting go of all her anger, there was only love and compassion left for the hurt in him. He had taken her son, but now she offered for him to be her son.

There wasn't a dry eye in the house. After telling this story, and showing the pictures of the woman and her "new son", Arelene Brown asked these three question to the audience:

"Who have YOU not forgiven?
" Who do YOU need to reconcile with?"
"Do you know that the anger and old resentments you carry in your heart are eating you alive?
They are eating your heart, your spirit, and your soul"

The fallout from this story and those three questions has been amazing! Tears flowed as one of the choir members at church yesterday, after sharing this story with the congregation, told of the hurt and anger she has carried for white people. She wants to let go of it!

I have been crying off and on myself as I ask myself
"Who do I need to forgive?" What am I still angry about? "How can I "reconcile" with this person?" "Do I get the "cost" of anger in my own life?"

So this week, Valentine's week, has been about "heart work"...about not taking things personally and feeling compassion, even for those who are angry.

It has also been about looking at what "real forgiveness" is all about!

I am so grateful to God for all that I am learning!
I wouldn't miss this journey, and this week with all it's learnings, for anything!

God Bless! Love and hugs! Linda


LORIE said...

Linda. . . you speak of talking and hearing from GOD. How does GOD talk to you? How do you experience GOD? I have been contemplating this. I admire your wisdom.

Thank you for your reminders of habits we all need to work on. You are not alone my friend. "Not taking things personally" is one I embraced about 4 years ago and WOW! it has changed my life. Admittedly, difficult at times.

I love you and am grateful for you have entered in my life for a reason and a season.

Kim Ellis said...

Hi Linda - very powerful! I definitely need to work on not taking things personally. I think that comes with life experience and LOTS of practice. I have the Four Agreements book and need to get it out again and read it for the umpteenth time - one of these day it will all sink in.

unForgiveness can be a very cruel prison - I wish more people understood how important it was to work thru that process.

The Farrell Family said...

I really admire your constant journey to be a better and healthier person inside and out. I think that these learnings are SO important to living a happy and content life. I've also realized, over the years, that when there is bitterness in my heart... it only affects myself and the people that I love... never the person that I hold bitterness for. It's better to just let it go! Harder said that done, I know. Keep up the tough work!

love you always,

jessithompson said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, learnings and experiences. I loved being able to hear about some of these in person. These are definite growing edges for me too, so I feel fortunate to be able to dialogue about them with you.

I love you.

Tiffany said...

Wow, great post! Forgiveness is definitely something I struggle with. I seem to hold grudges forever! Thanks for the great reminders!

Kim said...

Are you kidding me? That story was amazing. I have heard several touching stories about forgiving others. One has to do with someone who had to ask the person they had been upset with for their forgiveness for keeping a grudge so long. That's a twist!
Linda you may consider a book...let's go with the title "Linda's Life Lessons--Prioritize NOW! Love your sharing, as always!


Finding Comfort in Kindness...sharing from the heart

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