Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey

Greetings: For those interested in a deeper exploration of love from both the spiritual and human perspective. Check out my book: Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey.  

Inspired by messages from a master teacher. This book is a series of vignettes on ways we forget we are love, through our struggles and painful life experiences. More importantly, Just Be Love, offers encouraging spiritual messages and guidance to remember we are love, innocence and goodness.

Just Be Love, reflects on ways love is familiar to us, and provides inspiring ways to remember love. I take you to the hidden and mysterious places where love is often not realized. The book weaves my personal and professional experience, reflections and insights on love, and the teachings and wisdom of the spiritual masters and poets of many traditions.

Just Be Love, is a human and spiritual journey of looking within, as well as experiencing love through natural wonders, and the appreciation of life from the higher divine perspective.

 

 

 

 

One of my poems in the book:
Love as Awareness
Love is not found in the thought of love

rather in the awareness of love.
It is through our humanity, that we remember our divinity.
It is through our holy breath that we commune and 
communicate with all that is. 
It is for us to remember with higher awareness that God is Love.
And all that makes up the universe is an expression of this Love. “

 

Book is available through the publisher  http://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookstoreHome.aspx
and online book stores: www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com


What some readers have said about David an
d his book  Just Be Love:  More reviews on Amazon.com

Densely packed with great promise and a refrain of love! I found I could open it almost anywhere and dig into its core themes and the power of love. Glad I was directed to this thoughtful volume.  I like fiction

What a gift this book is!  A gift to the hearts of all of us who open its pages. Page by page, chapter by chapter, the author leads us on a journey of a lifetime, to Just Be Love. Those of us who are open to the beauty and grace of this world — and who have the courage also to accept the challenge to find the beauty within ourselves — will find it here.  This work is well written and the message is do-able and life changing, and so I recommend it to you. An accompanying workbook is also available to support the process of inner change laid out so clearly here.  Dorothy

You are a Spiritual Being.  David has written about life-altering experiences and lessons from his heart with the perspective of both a human being and a spiritual seeker. This work will challenge conventional thinking and guide you to explore the deeper meaning of life. All of our life experiences are opportunities to practice acceptance, patience, compassion and forgiveness. Trusting the process, understanding who and what you really are – an expression of the Divine – are beautifully spoken through David’s new book. Trust your instinct if you are being called to read this book. You will come back to it again and again as your spiritual understanding of life unfolds.  Jeanne

A go to book for anyone seeking to better understand all the many facets of love.  This is a beautiful book, one to sink into, meditate upon and cherish. Useful and practical information. Well written with a poetic flow. Many facets of love are discussed with a fresh and inspiring understanding. The message of hope and reminders of our Oneness are comforting in these challenging times.  Jane

Read this book.  David walks us along the path of our soul’s perspective, encouraging us to accept our life as it is and maybe more importantly, what it might not be. He invites us to allow ourselves an opening to Divine Love and forgiveness for our own inner peace and healing. This will then extend to the world of our daily experience. Reading this book once is not enough. Each chapter is a gift that can be savored and, like David’s raindrops in Chapter 34, fall gently on your mind and heart.  Jan

 A Book for All.  I love this book. There is so much good information in it to help with living daily life. This book reminds us that we are on a spiritual journey that we are here to learn what we can and make the most or our time on Earth. I’ve learned in order to grow as a human being I have to let go of some of the old beliefs, stories and habits that I have clung to – in order to love and appreciate who I am. Then to extend that love and appreciation to others as well. The insights and experiences. Thanks David for a great book, and a book I can pick up any time, and turn to any chapter and feel more focused and grounded throughout the day. You are a gifted writer and have offered something that is so needed and appreciated in today’s world.  Kate

In gratitude to you, for taking time to read this blog about Just Be Love. I would be delighted if you felt guided to order your copy soon. Much Love and winds of the Spirit your way, David

Do you desire to explore and evolve with greater love in your life. I’m a phone call or email away, to assist you. David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed and spiritual social worker, certified life transition coach, and author. My practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. Visit my website: transitionpathways.com

 

7 Traits of Spiritual Maturity

To write of spiritual maturity, let me begin by offering my definition of this term. Spiritual maturity is the willingness to be the student, a disciple to higher spiritual awareness (consciousness) and growth. It is the willingness and openness to explore the higher realms of the self and the universe.

Over 2000 years ago a famous spiritual master and teacher named Jesus said: Be in this world, but not of this world. I believe these words mean, while you temporarily live in this world (on earth), realize there is so much more to you and the universe, that is a part of you, and you are a part of. To illustrate this point, science now knows that 96% of the universe is invisible to the human senses. The way I take this, what we think is real and all there is, is only a fraction of what we and the universe are all about.  

We are spiritual beings, having a human experience. Which means, within and beyond our temporary physical body, we are eternal formless fields of energy, that we call a soul. Spiritual maturity is the remembrance of our soul and the yearning and desire to rediscover the soul and our divinity within it. It is to move in body and mind from the limited, to the unlimited of ourselves and the universe.

The following are 7 traits of spiritual growth and maturity:

1. Search for Higher Truth: Living here on earth, you can begin to yearn and feel for something more. That there is more to this life than what’s learned from family, traditional school, religious systems, government, etc. Shaking the old, what was once made true in order to discover the truth.

What’s true, will not surpass the test of time. What’s true will change over time. A truth will always surpass the test of time. The truth will not change over time, its eternal.

The Sufi teacher and spiritual leader, Hazart Inayat Klan has said this about truth: “When a person looks at the ocean, he can only see that part of it which comes within his range of vision; so it is with the truth.”

Spiritual maturity is about questioning and challenging the status quo. On an individual and collective level, many people struggle with change; we want safety, steadiness, certainty and predictability. This is adhering to the primitive part of our brain. That is all about survival and keeping safe.

We struggle with the unknown and uncertainty. However, there is no higher understanding and growth in the status quo.

The person on the spiritual path is often not going so much with the mainstream society. For they realize the truth won’t be found at Walmart or watching the Fox network.

2. Concerned about what’s Going on Inside of You: On the spiritual path, you begin to realize the importance of doing your inner work, to reconcile, release and re-frame what has been blocking your true happiness, potential and spiritual growth. You pay greater attention to your feelings, emotions and beliefs and how they trigger unproductive behaviors and outcomes.

One understands you cannot heal what you do not feel.  Engaging in your feelings, emotions and beliefs is the higher road, to better understand yourself in relation to your life experiences, and how you have learned to show up in life.

You are aware and accept, that what comes up for you within difficult experiences and people in your life are your teacher and opportunity to higher learning and growth. As a result, you are not as easily caught up in the victim and/or conflict or drama energies, and there destructive thinking and behavior patterns. You respond more than react to life situations and people around you.

In addition, you’re not as distracted by mundane aspects of life, which only seek to interfere with your growth. Therefore, your focus, is on connecting back to your soul and seek to understand why you have come to earth in this life time, what is it, you are to experience and resolve in this life journey?

Your experiences and people in your life create a student and teacher dynamic in order to experience and learn life lessons. You ask soul searching and life affirming questions like: What’s my purpose for being? Who am I? Most importantly, you go after the answers.

You begin to have different priorities in life and your values can shift as to what’s important vs. what’s no longer needed in your personal and/or professional life. Consequently, there’s a desire and willingness to listen more to your soul and heart, what I call the soul-heart, its pulse and nudging from deep within.

This soul pulse and nudging often wants you to step out of your status quo and comfort zone. So it creates fear and uncertainty. Many don’t say “Yes” to the call. They just go about their life. Than 5 or 10 years later they have regrets of not going with that calling of the soul pulse, as it seems more clearly now, where the soul was intending to lead you.

3. A Prayerful and Mindful Person: A spiritually growing person has heightened awareness of the value and practice of prayer throughout the day, as a way to commune with the higher power, whatever name you may call this.

They also practice meditation as a way to listen to their higher self and divine source for guidance and direction. They value what I call the 4 I’s of: Innocence, Intuition, Imagination and Inspiration to assist them on their spiritual journey. They listen to, and follow. the soft still voice of their intuition/higher self; more then the loud and self defeating voice of their inner critic i.e. lower, ego self.

4. Practice the Actions of Acceptance, Compassion and Forgiveness: The spiritually mature person understands the importance of Acceptance, Compassion and Forgiveness. They realize these are acts of love to the self and others. These loving actions, generate inner freedom, peace and gracefulness in life. 

With the practice of acceptance, compassion and forgiveness, one is sensitive to both their own needs and the needs of others; while setting healthy boundaries.

The spiritually mature person, lives as much from their heart, intuitive and emotional part, as from their head and logic side.

5. A Peace Maker and of Service: True spiritual masters are peace makers, and value peace over conflict. They seek to do no harm, thus understand and practice patience and tolerance, to achieve this end. In their communication they speak their truth with words of peace. 

Those growing spiritually, humbly seek to serve others, for the betterment of others and society as a whole. They receive as they serve, because their mindset is on loving kindness and willingness, not sacrifice.

6. Full of Love, Passion and Joy for Life: You remember you come from love, so you are love. Embracing this love, allows for passion with life, and a joyful heart. You freely spread this love, passion and joy to others. Having childlike qualities, you love to laugh and be playful, not taking yourself in life too seriously. You understand and see the lesson and meaning to life experiences, both the joyful and difficult ones.

7. Awareness of Being Connected to All That Is: The spiritually mature person understands that everything is made of energy, with a vibration. That everything in the universe is connected and interdependent with each other. So the idea of separation has been reconciled. You see the wonder, the miracle and beauty of all things. You accept the impermanence of life‒things change.

There is an understanding, that darkness and destruction are a part of the divine process and cycle of life. There is life – transition ‒ rebirth. You accept that creation/birth comes from the darkness, the void, and that renewal comes from destruction.

In conclusion, becoming spiritually mature is a conscious choice and a process. Which can be sparked by a crisis, loss, or a yearning for something more in life. It involves acceptance, willingness and determination to begin a deeper exploration of our soul in relation to our human experience.

Through spiritual surrender, the spiritually mature person embarks on working the task of transcending the ego’s will and ways of being, to the will of the divine.

The 7 traits listed, are part of a spiritual practice, process and inner discipline one chooses on the road to spiritual maturity. Once you begin this journey of deeper exploration and higher consciousness. You realize what’s been missing in your life, and you won’t want or need to go back to the old ways of living and being.

Out of love, this opportunity is always there for us to embrace. Having free will, however, the choice is always ours, to go deeper into this journey or not. 

 

Do you desire to discover a higher purpose and meaning to your life?  Are you struggling with embracing your spiritual path or staying on it? Please contact David Schroeder if you would like assistance with your spiritual issues and how to work through them. David offers life transition and spiritual growth counseling and coaching session’s in-person, by phone or Skype. Visit his website at transitionpathways.com.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself and move life transitions.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed and spiritual social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. David’s book, Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com or through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

 

3 Myths and 6 Truths about Self-Love

Cultivating Self-Love is one of the foundations of self-esteem. The most important person to have a loving and caring relationship with is with you. Self-love is the basis of your happiness, as well as your physical and emotional health. Self-Love is vital toward developing and sustaining healthy relationships with others, or the ability to move on from an unhealthy relationship. If you struggle with loving yourself, you will likely struggle with loving relationships with others. Spiritual truth says: what you to do yourself you do to others.

There are both myths and truths about self-love.  

 3 common Myths about Self-Love:

1. I need to please others: In childhood I experienced and learned that in order to get love, acceptance and approval, “I needed to please others” and I still believe this today. In pleasing others, we tend to forget the self. Over time, this depletes you especially, emotionally, leading  to resentment, unhappiness and overall life dissatisfaction.  

 2. Self-Love is being selfish: Childhood taught me that to love the self, was being selfish, arrogant or egoistical. I became programmed to feel guilt or shame if I took  care of and loved myself, if I said, “No” ‒ set boundaries for myself. We learned to love and value others unconditionally, yet, “conditions” apply to loving ourselves. 

3. Life is 90% what happens to me and 10% what I do with it. This myth caused me to develop an unhealthy and unloving relationship with myself around a difficult circumstance. I become the victim (blaming/hating myself) or the villain (blaming/hating others) because of the circumstance.

Life circumstances can cause us to become sad, fearful, angry, bitter, and resentful. There is a part of us that ultimately needs to blame someone or something for our feelings and emotions. In the end, I either blame you or I blame myself. This blame is judgment, and judgment is simply the withholding of love. Within my difficult situation, I do not love you or I do not love myself. Either way, my wounded self is not being loving. It’s protecting/defending itself or condemning the self. This is fear, not love.

The truth is: life is 10% what happens to me and 90% what I do with it. This means I take responsibility for my thoughts, beliefs, choices and behaviors regarding the experience. This is a more loving, accepting and empowering way to move through life experiences.

6 Truths of Self-Love:

1. You instinctively know your true worth. Question: How easily do you give up your value and sense of worth when things go wrong? People, who love themselves, instinctively believe and know they are worthy and of value.

Within the struggles and hardships of life, they have accepted and learned that life offers a series of problems in the form of lessons, and their life experiences are the lessons. Within these experiences, working with and through their circumstances, they have developed a more positive, self-empowering and life enhancing relationship to their unfortunate circumstances.

They are not defined by the unfortunate experience, rather they see it as an opportunity to deeply love them self, have compassion for themselves and others within and because of the experience.

They choose out of love and a desire for higher learning and growth, not to diminish their self-worth and love of self. They realize the circumstance was a test of their faith and to not lose our self-love, within the difficult experience. They accept it’s not always possible to like yourself or the experience, but you should never give up loving yourself, because of the experience.

The truth is, loving the self is one of the most positive and healthy ways to live and cope with life. To love your self is to value yourself and know your worth. Self-love and worth, naturally spills over to loving and accepting others.

2. Return to the Source of Love: In my humanness I tend to forget I am love, innocence and goodness, due to difficult and painful experiences. I experience, rejection, abandonment, or betrayal, which leads me to feel embarrassment/shame or injustice i.e. the world is not fair. My perception and belief of separation takes shape in my reality.

There is however, another truth and reality beyond what I have made true. There is a source and power within me and all around me that is pure and unconditional love and acceptance. This love is the source and basis of all that exist.

To return to this source is to remember and return to love. It is to remember and return to that which I am‒Love. This ends the perception and belief in separation and returns me back to inclusion.   

Love, innocence and worthiness represent inclusion. Fear, shame and unworthiness imply exclusion. To have self-love is to include myself again.

3. Self-Love creates and builds resilience. Resilience embodies the qualities of flexibility, hardiness and determination. I love and care about myself enough, that I choose to see my circumstances through. So I am open and accepting to my circumstances. Moving away from avoidance, resistance, shame or blame.

To be flexible and adapting, offers me the motivation and determination to change what I can. The greater my self-love, the greater my resilience and willingness to change what I can. The greater my resilience the deeper my self-love.

4. Loving the self without the conditions. The unconditional love and acceptance you offer others, is to be offered and expressed to yourself first and foremost, without conditions or “yah buts.” The airplane ride proves this statement. When traveling by plane, with a small child, the flight attendant says: “Put the oxygen mask on yourself first before your child.” Why? Because, in order to keep your child safe and secure, you need to have yourself safe and secure first.

A fundamental way to feel safe and secure is through self-love. Don’t wait for others to affirm you, affirm yourself freely and daily. True happiness comes from the unconditional love and acceptance with all parts of us.

5. All of our experiences are meant to bring us back to love. A difficult spiritual concept to comprehend is the notion that our experiences and the way we move through them, shows us how much we love or don’t love ourselves.

If I don’t love myself, because someone wasn’t very loving or kind to me, I have given away my power and my sense of love to that unloving person and/or experience.

It’s really not the rejection or betrayal by the other person that hurts me. What creates my hurt is the perception, belief and behaviors I take on because of the experience, the story I tell myself and others around the experience.

The key: within an unloving or uncaring act of someone toward you, keep loving and expressing kindness to yourself along the way. Some examples to help with this:

  • Connect with loving/supportive people
  • Write in a Journal
  • Take a warm bath/receive regular bodywork
  • Forgive the unloving words or act, sooner rather than later
  • Take walks/exercise
  • Mediation and prayer
  • Talk with a therapist or coach to sort out truth from your distortions and false beliefs.
  • Practice what I call the 4R’s (see below)

The 4 R’s:  Recognize, Reconcile, Release and Reframe

Recognize: Much of the owning process is about recognizing, becoming aware and identifying or naming where the hurt takes you in perception, feelings/emotions and belief about yourself within the situation. As I see how and where the situation or person triggered my perception, feelings and self-belief, this gives me the opportunity to:

Reconcile: within me where the situation is taking me in my belief about myself. How this belief builds me up‒makes me my best friend or condemns me‒makes me my worst enemy. When I can reconcile within myself, where the situation is taking, me than I can release the inner torment.

Release: To release is to say, believe, and act with confidence and determination to letting go of what no longer serves me. I release my unhealthy mind set and choose now to construct a more self empowering and loving mind set along with actions that reinforce the new way of being.

I choose to let go of the old, in order to create and live the new. I choose to focus on what I will gain and benefit as I embrace self-love, and release self-judgment and sabotaging thinking and behaviors.

Reframe: is the openness and willingness to view the upset in a different way. The mind is limited in perception and belief. We know what we know and we feel, and do what we know. To entertain a different possibility from my current point of view is to open the door to a different knowing. This helps create a more constructive and healthier story and reality‒way of thinking and acting.

To reframe my perception and belief, helps reduce the emotional charge I’ve had around the painful experience. This is an act of self-love within the fact that someone outside of me wasn’t very loving to me. This is a way we return to love and self-empowerment.

6. Can I look in the mirror and see love, my innocence and goodness? Or do I see what I deem as flaws, the bad hair day, the wrinkles, etc? I see my created distorted reflection, not the true reflection in my mirror. The one looking at you from inside the mirror only sees you as love, innocence and beauty. 

Can you accept and honor this truth of who you are? If you can, how would this make you feel in this moment? How would this start your day? What would this do to your state/frame of mind, and your attitude about yourself in life? When you reject the one in the mirror you are excluding her/him. To embrace and freely love the one in the mirror is to include her/him into your life. 

In my book, Just Be Love, I wrote a poem entitled: My Mirror, which illustrates the importance of staying true to the divine reflection of you from your mirror. 

My Mirror

My mirror recognizes and reflects the truth
that I struggle to notice and affirm.
My mirror only sees and knows me as love,
love I struggle to accept and embrace.
My mirror supports and nurtures,
what I choose to judge and reject.
My mirror only ask that I Just Be Love,
with the one who truly sees and knows me.

I look deeply in my mirror.
I see my innocence, perfection and radiance,
I would before hide and condemn.

As I let go of what I thought I was.
I see more clearly who I am.
What a gift I give to myself this day.

Thank you mirror, thank you,
I finally recognize and have found the one,
I’ve been looking for all along.

To come back to loving your self is to cultivate and value the self. You are expressing to yourself, you matter. Thus you find and connect with the one you have been looking for. You come back to the truth of who you are.

 

Are you struggling with loving yourself? Are you pleasing others as a way to receive love, acceptance and approval? Only to find you are more physically, emotionally and socially depleted?  David Schroeder, can help you reclaim the love and goodness you are. If you would like assistance with reclaiming this love and goodness David is here to assist you with his life transition coaching and counseling sessions. He offers in-person, by phone or Skype sessions. Visit his website at transitionpathways.com.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself and love yourself again.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. David’s book, Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com or through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

Thoughts on Human Love

It’s been said, Love is just a word until someone gives it meaning. Many of us have different meanings to love, because of our different experiences with love. For some love is to be guarded against, maybe even avoided due to painful experiences around love. Feeling betrayed, rejected or abandoned. Many learn to please others in hopes of love and acceptance, only to deplete themselves by giving so much, yet forgetting themselves. Some people act out a “crime of passion” toward a love gone wrong. Hurting the one they love or themselves, because love was denied. Others have even become ill, even died from a sad/broken heart, due to lost of a loved one. For others love means joy, passion, and sense of connection, so they’re eager to connect not just with people, but to the fullness of life.

Love can build up our sense of self, creating an emotional and physical high on life, or can put us down into a deep dark hole of loneliness and despair. Our brain is wired for love; we yearn for love, acceptance and approval.  Human love is a drive and can be seen as a quest. To love someone, for someone to love me, and see me “as enough.”

Love is one of the most powerful emotions. Yet, I believe love is more than an emotion. Its a state of consciousness. The higher our level of consciousness is with love, the greater our willingness and ability to offer love, support, nurturing and forgive an unloving act.

Questions to consider: What does love mean to you?  What meanings have you constructed about love? Do you have a belief and meaning about love that is including, accepting, supportive and offers freedom?  Or is your belief and meaning about love, excluding, judgmental, and a barrier to love and be loved?  

 Feel free to leave a comment.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. My practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential.  My book Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com  or  justbelove1.com Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

 

Forgiveness: Moving Beyond the Injustice

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful healing tools we have for reconciling and moving beyond from the hurts and wounds of life. It’s also a profound act of love and acceptance, especially self-love. For when we forgive another person or ourselves for a wrong doing, we set ourselves free and we benefit the most from the forgiveness. Despite the healing and liberating power of forgiveness; for many of us, the act of forgiveness is one of the most resisted and thus difficult acts we can offer to others or ourselves.

I’ve come to appreciate the only reason we have forgiveness, is because we make something matter. When we make something matter, we create an intense emotional charge within us. So an unjust “cause” done to us creates a strong “effect”, often having lasting emotional, physical, social and spiritual “effects” on us. The act of forgiveness helps to lower the emotional charge and intensity within us and helps liberate us from the painful experience.

Forgiveness is not about excusing the offense or saying/believing it didn’t happen. Forgiveness is not really about the offender, it’s about the one who is affected by the cause, the one holding on to the anger, resentment, grief. Being trapped in resentment, anger, depression, grief; waiting for the offender to take responsibility and ownership of the hurt toward us, is giving away our own power, inner peace and freedom. The more we can take charge of our own healing without an expectation that the offender needs to say something to us, or do something for us, the more empowered and liberated we can be. The quote by Lewis Smedes speaks volumes about the importance of forgiveness: “To forgive is to set the prisoner free and to discover that that prisoner was you.”

Forgiveness is an act of love, and love is freedom. To forgive is to be free and a way to love. Forgiveness means to go beyond our wounded ego self, in order to free the self. The willingness to go beyond the wounded self is to rise as love, to let go of what no longer serves us, so in time we can be restored to wholeness. 

Perhaps you’re not willing and/or ready to forgive someone. That’s okay and where you are currently at. Forgiveness is not something to be forced upon or to do out of guilt, if you are not ready. One should be open, willing and accepting in order to truly forgive. Human nature is such that, we are all at different stages of willingness and readiness. If this be the case, at least consider the importance of reconciling within yourself how hanging on to negative perceptions, create toxic emotions of anger and resentment leading to paralyzing beliefs and resulting self-defeating behaviors. How all this can affect many areas of your life in ways that are not helpful to you.   

I offer you the possibility and opportunity of considering a process I call “inner reconciliation.” Inner reconciliation is a way of reorienting our perceptions and beliefs about the experience and ourselves within the fact that our life has been disrupted either mildly or severely by a wrongful act toward us. Our ego defenses and beliefs often says: “They wronged us/hurt us and so let’s stay mad, bitter resentful, etc, that way we have a sense of power and control; since we didn’t have power and control during the offending experience.” Our anger, resentment and such, become a lens through which we see ourselves and the wrong doing. Its destructive thinking, beliefs and behaviors we create as a way to keep feeding our hurt and pain, in order to keep it alive and justify it. This is only hurting ourselves now, within the fact that we were hurt by someone in the past. This is unfortunately how victim energy and behaviors begin to take root, and if not tamed and reconciled can become our way of life.

Like grief, forgiveness is a process and takes time, willingness and commitment toward moving beyond what has hurt us and seemed unfair. When we can change our perception and belief about the experience, we begin to change our world and the way we interact in it. The process of forgiveness, like moving through any change we experience in our life, is an inside job. The job and empowerment of moving through what I call the 4 R’s: Recognize: who and how I am being with my current perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, feelings/emotions and behaviors. We can’t change or move beyond something unless we acknowledge it and tell the true to ourselves about ourselves. Reconcile: The willingness to resolve the inner pain and torment. Release: To let go of what no longer serves and benefits us. This offers space for healthier and more empowering possibilities to enter into your reality. Reframe: Is to now choose to see the painful experience, yourself and the offender, in a different and more constructive way. To see the glass more full than empty. This creates the willingness and courage to construct a more positive and affirming belief about yourself, within the unfortunate experience.  

In my own life, I’ve had many opportunities to practice forgiveness in what seemed at first, an unjust cause. I offer two experiences. One, was my wife of twelve years wanting a divorce, at the time it didn’t seem fair and not my choice. I was hurt, angry and frustrated. In time, I came to a place accepting her choice and let go of making her responsible for my feelings and behaviors within the stress and change. She made her choice out of self-love and what was best for her. I also had a choice of how I would move through it and who I wanted to be within a difficult situation. The choice of hanging on to anger, sadness and resentment and such, would only take me down a self-destructive and unfulfilling path. Through accepting the things I could not change, forgiving her and myself, and empowering myself to change what I could, which was only myself, this allowed me to change my situation from the inside out and move on in my life, and be a better version of myself and a father. Years later my ex-wife and I are friends and get along well on behalf of our sons and grand children. 

Several years ago, while driving my car I was hit head on, by a driver who was attempting to pass the car in front of him. The driver of this car was ticketed for failure to yield the right of way and his insurance company settled with me. Several months after the settlement, this man decided to sue me for mental harm. It was amazing that it ended up in a jury trial. I was in disbelief and just dumbfounded how I could be setting in a courtroom on trial for something I didn’t cause. Fear, anger, and uncertainty filled my days waiting for the court appearance and the verdict. I was found not guilty. A part of me with its voice inside me, understandably wanted to turn around and sue this guy, and many people suggested this. But another voice inside said, let it go, just let him be, he’s an old unhappy man, no need to put more fuel in the fire. I had compassion for this man and his struggle with needing revenge and justice, while not acknowledging and accepting he was in the wrong. He taught me, you never win a war – with war. So I forgave the error. In his need to get back at me, he was unaware of what his anger and resentment was doing to himself. I was at peace and moving on with life.

This man was after all, another teacher and opportunity for me through this difficult life experience. Through his actions, he was offering me the opportunity of learning and practicing the gift of moving beyond the injustice and my wounded self, toward acceptance, compassion and forgiveness.

You see, when you realize we have choices within difficult, painful and unjust experiences to see the offender as the threat and the enemy or the teacher and the opportunity. Depending on how you view it and think about it, is how you will experience it. What we think about we bring about.  When we can accept and understand that our experiences are really our teachers and opportunities to practice acts such as: acceptance, compassion and forgiveness, we take the high road with love, creating the willingness and commitment to move beyond the hurt, and learn the lesson for soul growth and self-mastery. Is this an easy task to get too? No. Is forgiveness a liberating and life changing act to engage in, that offers higher meaning? Yes, for sure. Life isn’t meant to be easy, it’s meant to be meaningful.

Questions to consider: Why might you struggle with forgiveness?  What would be the benefits of forgiveness for you?  How does acceptance and willingness aid the forgiveness process?  Feel free to leave a comment, share your answers to above questions, and/or share your experience with forgiveness.

 

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. My practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential.  My book Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com  or  justbelove1.com Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com