Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Generosity of Spirit

I realized recently that I am very hard-hearted in certain areas and with specific people. This came as a bit of a surprise to me, because I like to think that I get mad about things and then I move on and don’t hold it against people. It’s hard to move past things that bother you deeply and have for a long time, but it’s important to our emotional and spiritual well being. It makes me a grouchy and negative person when I hold grudges and don’t forgive.

Why is it easier to forgive some people and so hard with others? I think that I like to see improvement in myself and my friends, and when the same mistakes and situations occur over and over again, I find my forgiveness much harder to offer. I tend to throw up my hands more frequently, and say, “Seriously, again with this?” and as a result, my heart becomes hard. We all make mistakes, and I don’t want to become that person who is so sure of my own wonderfulness that I look down on everyone else, but I think that failure to progress in your human growth is my least favourite quality in people.

I love being at this camp because life slows down so that you can actually look at some areas of yourself that are less than stellar. Most of the time I’m rushing through my day and when the kids are in bed I flop down on the couch for a few hours before heading to bed and preparing to do it all again the next day. I don’t often get the chance to look around and think about the deeper things of life. Part of it is the stage of life I’m in with two small kids, but another part is a societal problem of busyness and rushing from one thing to the next in a way to avoid the darker sides of our own personality.

I find that the still, small voice of God is always speaking, but I have to stop what I’m doing and listen in order to hear what he is saying. This camp provides that opportunity, if I’ll get past myself in order to listen. Being in nature all day and hearing speakers who encourage us to be open to God’s voice helps with this process. I find that my heart is softened, but I don’t always like what I see about myself.

If I strip away the excuses, I find that I am mean-spirited in specific areas, and I don’t want to be this way. Forgiveness for people I love and respect is easy for me, but grace for those who I don’t feel deserve it is another matter altogether. Why do I feel it’s up to me to offer forgiveness only to those I choose? Isn’t it an all or nothing concept? I either forgive, or I refuse to forgive and hold a grudge. I shouldn’t be picking and choosing.

I can very easily convince myself that I’m entitled to my hard attitude for reasons which may or may not be valid. I do know that I don’t need much to cultivate seeds of anger and injustice, and nurse my grievances like they are newborn babies. The problem is that this rage and bitterness grows in my spirit, like a stubborn root, and when it gets big enough it threatens to overtake all of the other good things in my life.

I always feel uneasy when I punish other people, but I have trouble letting the hurt go. It must be a decision, somewhere in my will, to let go and give it over to God. I don’t think it can be done once and forgotten, but must be done over and over in order to take root and create a new path for my behaviour and attitude. It’s not easy to get away from my prejudices, but I am not the judge and jury for other people’s decisions. We must all live with our own inadequacies and frailties.

I want to cultivate a new generosity of spirit for those in my life, the people I find easy and those who I find to be difficult. I expect this to be a hard road to walk, and one I would prefer to turn away from, but I know it’s something I need to work on, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to make some changes in this area.

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