During the season of Advent, I am going to do something new on the blog. I am going to try my best to offer a daily reflection here as we journey through this season together. To help frame the devotions I have been using hashtags designed by a group with the Episcopalian church. For example, the hashtag assigned for today is #Soul.
There has been something wearing on my soul this year. I think I finally figured that out yesterday. It finally hit me what’s been wrong with me. I have been spiritually sick in a sense because I have been unable to forgive. I have been holding on to pain, chips, regrets, fears and worries that I wasn’t even really fully conscious of until yesterday morning.
I figured out why Allison has been asking me so much this Advent season why I haven’t seemed as excited as I usually am this time of year. For the first few weeks I just sloughed it off. Then she brought it up again the other night. I knew she had a point. In year’s past, I couldn’t wait to decorate and get our apartment all festive to celebrate and feel a bit warmer as the nights draw longer and colder. This year though, I was kind of slow in the decorating process and sadly in some ways it was more of a “have to” than a “want to.”
The realization hit me yesterday though; my heart has been heavy in part because I have been unable to forgive. I have held on to some things that I should never have- I have worried about our monthly budget, about being able to treat Allison to a Christmas gift or two, I have felt like we were let down this year by some opportunities and friends, that others in our family were mistreated too. Unaware of this, I let these worries and feelings build up inside of me. Their building up has gotten to a point where it was blocking my ability to experience the fullest sense of hope, joy and peace that comes this time of year.
Well, no more. I know it is not going to be easy to do this, but I need to forgive.
These words from Matthew 11:28-30 ring in my ears, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
I need to forgive myself for feeling like I haven’t yet become who I am fully called to be, and for the feeling of not being enough or earning enough. No more am I going to let the fears of scarcity weigh on my soul.
I need to forgive those possibilities that never panned out. They were great conversations and sounded wonderful, but they weren’t meant to be in this time and place. I trust (and know) that other doors have and will continue to open in their place bringing wonderful adventures and possibilities.
I need to forgive those people and systems whom I feel have mistreated friends and family (and myself) this year. There’s no use in wondering the “what if’s,” and regretting choices, but rather, to say, thank you for the opportunity to grow and then move on in hope and trust.
I don’t write this to sound ungrateful. I am very grateful of all the different roles and opportunities that we are in now, and have been in. But for some reason, lately I have lost sight of my own ability to be present by giving room to some regrets, “what if’s” and even self-created grudges.
For all that I may have disappointed this past year, hurt, or not done when I ought to have, please forgive me and help me to forgive as well.
God, please help me. Please forgive me for these feelings and self-created hurts. Bring me out of these feelings, and grant me back the smile which I know fits best upon my face. When thoughts like these arise again, help me to remember to forgive this day and every day. You created me to love, and often love first starts with the ability to forgive ourselves. Help me forgive myself, and help me to forgive others. In your name I pray, Amen.
Today, I am choosing to forgive myself and others. I hope for whatever challenges you have faced or face today, that you can as well. I pray that your soul may feel light and full of joy this Christmas season.
Have you ever found it hard to feel the fullest sense of joy in your life because of a hurt or regret you have carried? What do you seek forgiveness for this week before Christmas? What is weighing on your soul today?
Image Credit: Nelson Mandela on Forgiveness