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Before I talk about the profound things two people said to me in the past three days, I thought I’d start with a photo of … what else? Hawaii. This was from the Waimea Valley Gardens. So. Beautiful.
Yesterday, we were having a meeting with a local priest and we talked all about the Bible; where it came from, how it was translated, how it ended up having all these different versions. He shared some of his own personal experiences with us, and we just generally talked for an hour. It was the last few minutes that hit home to me.
To summarize, he was talking about how we have plans for our lives and that is a good thing. We have direction in our lives, and we are all working towards goals. He said though, that sometimes, God’s plans might be a little different than our own, and that is ok. We will be ok, because God is looking out for us and watching over our lives.
This might not seem too profound to some. Some might even disagree. I know that we all have free will; that’s not what I’m really saying. I don’t think that we are just coasting through life and nothing that we choose to do matters God’s Will will be done. I don’t think that is how things work.
I do believe though, that if we are aware, or try to be aware of God’s presence and influence in our lives, we can see ‘signs’ if you will, from Him. These direct us, help to guide us through our lives. If we choose to follow those hints or signs, then we are doing both His will and using our own choice in the mix.
This hit home to me because it’s basically what I’ve experienced in the past 2-3 years. I graduated college with a degree in Nursing. While I never really felt like I KNEW it was what I wanted to do with my life, it was a logical path, and I really enjoyed learning about science. I felt something was always a little off but instead of worry [or I tried not to worry too much], I prayed. I prayed that if I was meant to do something else, I’d know. I tried to trust that God would help me see what I was meant to do.
Fast forward 2-3 years… here I am. I’m a photographer. I’m making my way through being self-employed, wading through the business world that I learned NOTHING about in college. And I couldn’t be happier. I thank God daily for directing me, for taking care of me. For answering my prayers. He does listen, even if He answers them in a different time frame then we’d like.
The other profound saying happened on Wednesday night during small group with my 6th grade class. The focus of the night was on the 5th beatitude: Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. We talked about how God will show us as much mercy as we display to others.
In this case, mercy means – kindness, helpfulness, generosity, and forgiveness.
The husband of the lead 6th grade teacher [who is helping her brother out while he recovers from surgery for pancreatic cancer,] sat with us to help keep order among the 6th graders. We were discussing reasons why middle school kids might have trouble forgiving other people.
Steve shared his philosophy about forgiveness with us all. He basically said that [I’m paraphrasing, so Steve, I hope I get this correctly, :)] he thinks that forgiveness is not a human quality. It is not in our human nature to forgive people who hurt or wrong us. It is a Godly quality. When we find it within ourselves to forgive those who hurt us, we are about as close to acting in God’s image as we can be, and we get a little closer to God with each time we offer others forgiveness.
How profound is that? If any of you are like me, I often have a hard time letting go of grudges. My feelings can get hurt easily, and I’m pretty sensitive. If someone hurts me, wrongs me, makes me feel inferior or self-conscious, I hold onto that for a long time. No matter how hard I try, I have a hard time letting go of it. To give them true forgiveness isn’t something that comes naturally to me.
So, when I really, truly try to offer forgiveness [which I should do, and I know that. God asks us to forgive those who wrong us, and basically commands it. If He says we’ll get as much mercy as we give others, that right there tells us we should be giving everyone our mercy!], when I offer forgiveness to others, I’m acting in a way that God approves of. I’m getting a little close to God in the process.
But because it’s not a human quality by nature, that is why a lot of our society, and even the world in general can’t really, or don’t really forgive. At all. From there spills the hatred, the grudges, the fights, and the war that taints the world.
I found it all very profound and thought provoking.
My challenge to myself today is two-fold. To be thankful that God loves me enough to help direct me in my life. To remember that God’s got His hand in everything, and to remind myself of that when I’m starting to worry/panic/be discouraged about life, the future, anything that is bothering me at that time. He’s got it covered, and it will all be alright.
Second, I really want to challenge myself to examine any grudges I’m still holding. Maybe people that I still haven’t forgiven for things they’ve done to me, or times I’ve been hurt. It’s time to let it go. Time to offer forgiveness. Time to let go of that anger and let the peace and mercy in instead. That’s my challenge.