Saturday, November 12, 2011

Practicing Forgiveness

"True sorrow leads to repentance and the changing of ones ways."

Its not too uncommon to hear some such admonishment. And it's needed -- we ought to truly be sorry, instead of just apologizing because it's expected. It seems, though, that instead of only encouraging people to truly be repentant of their actions, we should also be fostering within people true forgiveness.

Just as people say "sorry" out of obligation, so do people say "I forgive you" "'sok" "no worries" or some other nice-ity.

First, "'sok" and "no worries" do not even begin to constitute verbal forgiveness. It's merely a polite way to respond to an apology of sorts (regardless of sincerity).

Second, just because the words "I forgive" exit your mouth does not mean you truly forgive the offender. Forgiveness is not merely words.

Forgiveness is commonly defined as granting pardon or remission. I don't think most people even begin to comprehend what that means, but another accepted definition is to quit feeling resentment. That's right, forgiveness is more than words, it's an emotion -- one that we, most likely, have to cultivate.

How do we cultivate forgiveness? How do we shed feelings of cold shoulder, revenge, spite, or just simply a hurt that you hold against someone? Aren't some things just too big to forgive?

Forgiveness is active. It's alright if, after initially granting forgiveness to someone, you find yourself struggling. This is where we must practice forgiveness. We must seize these hurt-filled moments and consciously decide to forgive - to not hold the offense against the offender. And we must do this until we teach ourselves, cultivate within ourselves forgiveness.

This can be a process, as every situation requiring forgiveness varies. And while it may feel as if some hurts are too great to forgive: say "I forgive you" and actively forgive whenever you have the chance.

After all, Jesus has forgiven all of us of every single wrong thing we have done -- and all those things we ever have or should have said "sorry" for was ultimately directed at him. He no longer holds our offenses against us if we accept him for who he is - our king.

If he can forgive everyone of wrongs done against him (which, since he king, is treason and rightly punishable by death) then how much more, especially after receiving such a forgiveness, should we willingly and gladly give forgiveness to others.

To give completely. That is what forgiveness originally meant, and it still holds true. Forgiveness is to completely give away resentment against another. It is not something we merely say to appease. Forgiveness is something we must practice, and, in Jesus, we have a great example to follow.

original image source

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Friendly Reminder: Holidays Approaching

image from
Not to freak anyone out, but Thanksgiving is a mere 21 days away. Here are some things that, if you haven't, you should go ahead and try to do sooner than later. Planning in advance saves you time -- especially in the grocery stores as you try to buy all of the ingredients you need for your feast! Not to mention you'll be much less stressed the day - or even week - of Thanksgiving.
  • Plan on where you want to eat for Thanksgiving, and who you want invited. Go ahead and send invitations so your (hopeful) guests can make their Thanksgiving plans.
  • Make your menu and start looking for deals in the grocery store. Websites such as Money Saving Mom and Faithful Provisions have great posts that both give recipie ideas as well as where to get those deals.
  • Decide: do you want to decorate? If you do, do you already have everything you need, or will you have to run out to the store to buy decorations or craft supplies? Go ahead and set up what you want displayed for Thanksgiving. That way it's already done, and if you realize you're missing something you have time to go the store without a huge headache. Enjoy a few weeks of fall colors and reminders to be thankful, that certainly never hurt anyone. :-)
And, as we all know, Christmas comes on the heels of Thanksgiving. I know, some stores have had their decor out since August, but just because you've been blocking it out (I'm right there with you!) doesn't mean that you shouldn't start planning. I know for many, the day after Thanksgiving ("Black Friday") is the official start of the Christmas season. It is for me. Its the day we always do our big push to get our house and yard decorated for Christmas!

It is not the day I start looking for presents. I received an email today "I know it's a little early to be thinking about Christmas presents..." it began. Too early? I'm just under 3/4ths of the way finished! My personal goal is to be finished by Thanksgiving. I don't always succeed, but I usually come close. That is a totally unrealistic goal for some people, but it doesn't hurt to go ahead and start Christmas shopping.

Here are some ideas for you to go ahead and start:
  • Make a list of who you need/want to buy presents for. When possible, right down specific items you want to buy for them.Write down your budget for each person, and stick to it (if you love giving gifts, like I do, this is the hardest part).
  • Compare prices online. Often you can see both online and in store prices. Don't just check the stores and their websites, check to see if Amazon or Ebay (or similar store) has what you are looking for. There is quite a lot you can find at deep discounts on those sites ... and all without the hassle of shopping in an over crowded store and being overwhelmed by the noise, commercialism, and attention-grabbing signs and displays designed to make you spend more. Note: Don't forget to add in shipping to the cost of the gift. Some websites are offering free shipping on all orders during this season, just check and make sure you'll still be getting a better deal/that you're staying in budget before you buy!
  • Leave room on your list to fill in what you've bought each person and how much left you have in your budget. Those sites I mentioned above for Thanksgiving help? They're useful in finding good deals on gifts too, especially making good use of those coupons (which they'll often link to :-) ).
  • Buy (or make!) some inexpensive, more generic gifts that you can use in case of emergency (you forgot about someone and realize it last minute, like your child's teacher or your work's Secret Santa) or for people you want to remember but but can't drop a ton of money on.
My recommendation with Christmas shopping is to do it year round. I realize it's a little late the throw that idea out there now, but, truly, there is next year you can do that, and it's never too early to begin shopping. Year-round Christmas (birthday, anniversary, etc) shopping not only saves time, but also allows you to get better deals and not feel rushed into making a decision. Of course, all of this leads to less stress which means a more enjoyable Christmas season!

Those are some of my tips to help you have a less stressful Thanksgiving and Christmas. So what do you do to prepare for the holidays? What traditions are you looking forward to? And what do you do to figure out how to buy for those difficult people on your list (in my case, the men in my life)?