Are You Too Hurt To Forgive? Maybe You Don’t Have To

Are You Too Hurt To Forgive? Maybe You Don’t Have To

It had only been a week or so since her death. I was still reeling with emotion. Every cell of my body yearned for her embrace, just as I had as a child. I wanted to feel the warmth of her affection. I wanted to finally see her demeanor light with delight at the sight of me, her daughter.

For the first time in my life, I was suffering unspeakable grief. Without warning my heart would erupt in anguish and my body would writhe in pain from the finality of her premature death and the loss of hope for our relationship.

It just so happened that I was back in California when the sheriff called to tell me of her demise. She was the only one to die in the multi-car crash brought on by a heavily intoxicated driver, battling her own demons.

And it just so happened that I was driving up the California coast en route to see a childhood friend who I hadn’t seen in over 20 years, when the phone rang.

The call ushered in a cosmic shift of sorts. I could feel it. It wasn’t singularly about my mother’s death. It was also about a new season of my life.

Wrapped in the painful pronouncement of her death was the invitation to step into something new. But before I could, I had to die to false hopes harbored from childhood.

At the time, I was living in Pennsylvania with my husband. The sheriff explained that it had been difficult to locate me. He invited me to return to her home. He would allow me access in an effort to locate a handwritten will.

As he spoke, my heart raced and a voice inside bemoaned, “the way that I knew her is the only way that I’ll ever know her”. Despite having not heard it for decades, I immediately recognized the voice. It was me as a young girl and I knew exactly what she meant. Even after so many years, she still entertained romantic notions of a loving relationship with her mother despite having been so relentlessly rejected.

“The way that I knew her is the only way that I’ll ever know her,” meant “but I thought the day would come. I thought she would one day love me. I thought she’d one day hold me. I thought we’d be friends and she’d be proud. I thought we’d eat dinner together and smile at one another. I thought the day would come when she’d want to know me.”

That day never came and it never will.

When I entered her home, my eyes fell to a black and white portrait of my young self. I was taken aback to see a little girl who I longed to embrace. She was darling.

“How can this be”, I wondered. “I thought there was something wrong with me!”

As I gazed at the portrait, I gazed with a mother’s eyes. A wave of protective adoration overtook me. I was loving myself as I had longed for my mother to love me.

As I made my way through her cluttered home, memories overtook my mind’s eye. Familiar smells, familiar furniture, a familiar blanket, a familiar sweater. They all pulled at me, enticing me to return to a time I’d long left. Finally, it was all too much. Acute emotion consumed and overtook me so that I dissolved into a pool of sobs and heavy heaving. My body ached, ravaged by a profound hunger to be desirable to the one who’s affection forever eluded me.

Days later, as I boarded the plane, the emotions accompanied me. I carried them all the way back to Pennsylvania into my safe home, the home I’d worked so hard to guard from my past.

As you can imagine, the trials of her death brought up innumerable unresolved issues. The pain of loss was tortuous, but so too was the pain of aroused memories. Suddenly, I found myself contending with the question of forgiveness.

Forgiveness was something I’d worked so hard to cultivate in my life for the present and the past. Then, one day as I lay on the bedroom floor in grief-stricken meditation, a scene came over my mind’s eye. I recognized it from the ancient classical Jewish and Egyptian texts as Joseph and his brothers. Are you familiar with the story?

Joseph and his brother Benjamin were born to their father, Jacob, by his true love, Rachel. Jacob had another wife, Leah, through whom he gained ten sons.

Joseph was Jacob’s first born through Rachel, his beloved wife and, therefore, his favored son. You can imagine how this made the ten other sons feel.

Jacob blatantly preferred Joseph and Benjamin. He even had a special coat made for Joseph, with long sleeves which implied status and esteem. Only the non-laboring, upper-class men wore long sleeves.

Finally, the bitter ten had had enough. They collectively turned against Joseph, stripping him of his special coat and selling him into slavery for 20 silver coins.

The scene that played before my mind’s eye was of Joseph heavily made up in the royal Egyptian manner, with headdress and thick makeup. The Joseph of my vision was no longer the slave, he was the highly revered second-in-command to Pharaoh.

In case you don’t know, I should explain…Joseph was sold into slavery, just as his half brothers intended. He was purchased by Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard. Later, Potiphar’s wife made a false accusation against Joseph that landed him in prison. While in prison, Joseph interpreted several dreams for fellow inmates. It was this gift of dream interpretation that eventually landed Joseph before Pharaoh and into his lofty position as second-in-command over Egypt.

As I saw Joseph in all his royal regalia, I also saw his brothers standing before him. Because I know the text, I understood they were there to ask for grain. There was a grave famine in all the land. Everyone suffered but the Egyptians. Thanks to Joseph and his ability to interpret dreams, Egypt was well prepared for the famine. Joseph perceived the foretelling of the famine in one of Pharaoh’s dreams and took the necessary precautions to prepare well.

What happened next nearly stopped my heart. I was completely undone.

Without regard for his appearance or the opinions of others, Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers. With robust wailing that is described as having been heard throughout the palace, Joseph extends his arms, inviting his brothers to draw near to him. I saw him, just as its recorded, postured to embrace his brothers.

In that moment, I understood what the Spirit was unveiling.

Forgiveness!

I cried out, “why would You show this to me? You know I’ve done everything to forgive her. I thought I had forgiven her!”

It was the proverbial kick while I was down.

You see, I understood what was being disclosed…True forgiveness necessarily entails the total relinquishment of self preservation.

Sprawled on the floor, every portion of my being yearned for her mother’s embrace. Truly, every cell of my body craved her elusive affection.

Even still, provided the opportunity, I wouldn’t dare extend my arms to her. I wouldn’t dare ask for an embrace. I couldn’t!

I couldn’t bear to be rejected one more time.

I couldn’t bear to see the visible disdain in her eyes.

I couldn’t bear to see the upturned corner of her lip that betrayed amusement at my frailty.

I understood in that instance that I had never fully forgiven her.

I had never forgiven her for not loving me.

I had never forgiven her for not protecting me.

I had never forgiven her for abandoning me.

I had never forgiven her for hating me.

I had never forgiven her for choosing the men over me.

I had never forgiven her for denigrating my skin color and ethnicity.

I had never forgiven her!

Totally undone, I lay wrecked and ravaged. “Fuck this! I have nothing left to give to this. Nothing! I’ve given absolutely everything to forgiving her and moving on. Everything!”

I felt accused and criticized.

Then a calm overtook me.

Peace tangibly entered the room. Without audible utterance, a message was spoken to my heart…

“I haven’t shown this to you to discourage you. I’ve shown it to you as a promise. You don’t have the capacity to forgive this way. That was never your burden to bear. That’s my responsibility. Let me take this from you. Let me be the One who carries the burden to forgive her.”

In an instant, something broke. The suppressed rage that had burned for decades suddenly quelled and the secret recesses of my heart opened. For the first time in my life, I could access all of me.

So, why should this matter to you?

Because, like me, you’re likely carrying a burden that was never your intended fate. In your humanity, you haven’t the capacity to extend what belongs to Eternity.

Broken and undone on the floor that day, I could not have known that freedom and wholeness lay waiting just beyond the agony.

The Spirit beckons us onward towards incomprehensible fullness. It’s incomprehensible because it’s abundant provision in exchange for our most grievous deficiencies. In other words, we have no frame of reference, no narrative for the profound promise that awaits our arrival.

Press on towards the great joy and good success that is divinely yours.

Do You Know The Cost Of Destiny?

Do You Know The Cost Of Destiny?

Have you received a vision for your Destiny? If so, then you know you’ve been forever pulled apart from the mass, from the status quo, from mediocrity.

The vision for your Destiny will make you feel like an outsider even in the midst of your peers.

Try all you want to fit in, but the vision is evidence that you’ve been set apart.

Set apart for what?

For the mountaintop.

The miracle of your metamorphosis doesn’t begin at the top of the mountain. It begins down in the valley, amid commonness. It begins at a place of decision, the decision to leave the pack, to leave the familiar for the sacredness of the divine.

Certainly, reward awaits your ascent, but so too does loneliness. The mountaintop exacts a price that many are unwilling to pay.

There is a struggle in being set apart, in being called up the mountain. The struggle is to think on the level of your calling because your situation cannot be elevated above your mentality.

You can have all the accoutrements to function on the level of commonness and all the cravings to live on the mountaintop. Imagine being stretched between what is before you and what is behind you.

Maybe you don’t have to imagine.

Are you being set apart?

When you’re called up into a high place, a very high place, you’ll experience every type of weather condition during your ascent. You won’t know what to pack or how to properly prepare.

Destiny’s ascent is not for the faint of heart.

If you want sameness and predictability, then stay down in the valley. The mountaintop holds too much mystery and uncertainty for safety-seekers.

Standing at the bottom of the mountain, looking up to the top, Destiny lets you see in a vision where you haven’t been and then leads you step by step. It’s a careful progression. Get there too fast and you might go into shock. Your mind might implode.

Life on the mountaintop isn’t easy. It requires special training and equipping. Trust me, it’s harder to be what you see inside, than you realize.

But, the challenge is tempered by reward.

Destiny is revealed in the high place of the mountaintop. You cannot grasp the essence of divinity in the valley amid commonness. Its in the struggle, in the storm, in the blowing of the wind, in the test, in the trials, in the frailty of life, in the fickleness of people, its in the brokenness of circumstances, in the fragment of the human heart…that’s where Destiny is revealed.

It’s in the storms of life that we glimpse heavenly glory. It’s when we think, “I’m being pulled apart”. It’s in the stretch of life that we behold the glory of Destiny.

Ascend your mountain to behold the glory of Destiny.

The mountaintop holds the secret to your potential. Ascend to find out who you are.

When you get to a certain level, everything will look very different. When you change, everything connected to you changes too. Its a metamorphosis, meaning it’ll be you, but not you. It’ll be familiar, but different. It’s a change in you from the caterpillar to the butterfly, same DNA but different presentation.

Some people will try to stop the process. They won’t understand the process. They won’t understand where you’re headed. They won’t understand what you’re becoming.

Just remember, the view from the top is worth the struggle of the ascent.

The mountaintop is not for the faint of heart.

Let’s build our resolve for our mountaintop with this simple exercise…imagine you are without limitation and restraint. The world is literally your oyster and playground. What would you do? How would you live? Who are you with? What are the thoughts of your heart? What are your inner most desires? Now, what price are you willing to pay to get there? Can you endure loneliness to get there? Can you endure isolation to get there? Can you suffer being misunderstood to get there? Can you survive heartbreak and betrayal to get there? If so, then you’ve already begun your ascent to the vision for your Destiny and your greatest challenge going forward is simply to persist irrespective of the adversity yet to arise.

Press on! Always press on!

Reasons To Move On

Reasons To Move On

I learned something today. I learned that adult eagles tend to be very reluctant to leave unhatched eggs even after their incubation period has expired. If some eggs don’t hatch, adults will initially continue incubating and then start spending longer periods off the eggs and eventually give up but remain in the area.

It can be difficult for an adult eagle to accept that some things won’t grow, that some things won’t progress as expected.

Can you relate?

One of the greatest challenges in life is knowing when to give up and walk away. In business, in relationship, in any pursuit, it can be difficult to confidently know when enough is enough.

Can you relate?

We ask ourselves questions like, “what if I invest more faith? What if I try harder? What if I give more time? What if I do this instead?…then maybe something will improve”.

Even after trying everything, some things won’t grow. Some things just won’t progress. What do we do in those instances?

We say, “I’m done. I don’t have any more to give”. Ah, how challenging that can be!

How do we walk away from something we’ve seen in our future? How do we walk away from what seemed to be the fulfillment of a dream? How do we walk away from what feels like a lifeline?

There comes a point where the eagle must give up. If the mother compromises her future and her destiny by laying on her dead history she will miss the opportunity to birth again.

We can’t afford to sit on what is dead. We can’t afford to lend ourselves to things that hold no life.

Your future and destiny are tied to no one and nothing. You can move on.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not advocating leaving difficult situations. I’m advocating leaving dead situations. There’s a difference. There are relationships worth fighting for. There are promises worth fighting for. There are dreams worth fighting for. And then there are those things that simply hold no life. If the life has expired, then the potential has expired as well.

Fight for the resurrection of what still holds potential and walk away from those things that now claim your life.

There are situations we’re called to walk away from but, for whatever reason, continue to grasp to in vain. As a result, they’re sucking the life from us. We’re confused. We’re tired. We’re heavy hearted. We’re sad. These are the symptoms of death. Where there is death in a situation, you will find that life is drawn from you.

Know when to move on.

If the eagle has tended well to her eggs, if she’s successfully hatched all the others, then she knows theres nothing wrong with her.

If you’ve done everything you can do and the situation has begun to suck life from you, then you have to conclude that its not you.

Your life is rife with evidence that you’ve successfully done it before and you can successfully do it again.

Resist the temptation to meditate on what seems like a failure.

Meditate on your successes. Meditate on the promises that still lie ahead.

Every eagle must come to a point of knowing when to move on and so must you.

We need to live like we know that our time is running out. We can’t stay around where life once was, but where it dwells no longer. Don’t miss where life is now.

What are you supposed to move on from so that you can advance into your future and all that Destiny has for you?

Bolster your strength and resolve with this simple exercise. Write down every past success you’ve experienced. Every single one you can recall. With your mind’s eye, revisit each one. Replay the event in your mind. Allow the emotion of each success to return. Sit with your eyes closed, reliving each experience. Do this for 5 consecutive days just before retiring for the night and you will find a renewed conviction to move on towards life and goodness.

The Surprising Secret To Greatness

The Surprising Secret To Greatness

Everyone desires to feel important.

Everyone desires to do something valuable with their life.

Everyone desires to feel significant.

Everyone desires to know the secret to greatness.

If you tell me I’m wrong, I won’t believe you.

Everyone desires a position of power and leadership and for good reason…we were wired to do so.

Each and every one of us has a calling on our life. We were created with a specific purpose to fulfill, a mission for our life, and for such a time as this.

It is absolutely true that no one else can do what you’ve been designed to do. Likewise, you cannot fulfill the destined role of another.

Your place of intended leadership is exclusively in the area of your gifting. This is significant because it means that you’ve already been perfectly fashioned and perfectly equipped to attain your intended position of leadership and influence. You and only you can do it proper justice.

The hand of heaven has prepared you for great stature and good success. Your destined success and position of influence will not come at the expense of your marriage. It will not come at the expense of relationship with your children. It will not come at the expense of your sanity or peace of mind. Your destined success and position of influence necessarily includes the security and stability of all that is good and perfect in your life. Why do I mention this?…

There are many “successful” people, holding distinguished positions of leadership who acquired their role at a great cost. That was never their intended fate. That’s the disadvantage of being good at multiple things – you can easily become misguided in pursuit of your purpose and, as a result, fill a position that was never your intended role.

When success exacts the price of one’s wellbeing, then that success was never their intended course. That’s not to say that divinely appointed success comes without difficulty. It simply means that even in the midst of calamity, peace and security reign.

You were born to occupy specific positions. Try as you might, you cannot change this. You cannot change the roles and assignments you’re meant to fulfill. They were designed for you and you for them. May you find peace and a sense of rest in knowing this.

The places you’re meant to occupy are not available to anyone else. So, don’t be jealous of another leader. You can’t be them anyway and you don’t have the capacity to fulfill their assignment. Competition and resentment are a waste of your energy.

Many high-profile leaders love to lord their power over people and use them as benefactors. In other words, they like to control people and, when they do, it gives us painfully intimate insight into their inner workings. Anyone who seeks to control another is insecure in their position of leadership. It’s like they know, on some level, that they were never intended for that role and rather than seek to uncover their true purpose, they resign themselves to the place that has afforded them the seeming value they’ve longed to possess. Why does this matter to you and to me?…

Your position of power and leadership will serve to offer you the reward of a satisfying life and peaceful success. When you’re where you belong, doing what you were designed to do, you won’t fall sway to the perceptions and opinions of others. When you’re where you belong, doing what you were designed to do, you’ll effortlessly reveal the glory that is exclusively you. When you’re where you belong, doing what you were designed to do, you’ll readily become the servant, offering up your gift to the world.

We’re not leaders because others serve us. We’re leaders because we serve, not as subservient slaves but as distributors of a most extraordinary gift.

You become great when you discover your gift, the gift you were born with, and serve it to humanity. This is where leadership is born.

This gift is very complex. It is a fruit, a passion, an anger, a hunger, its a lot of things. It’s that thing that is so intricately woven into the fabric of your being that you hardly can distinguish it. Nevertheless, you must discover it. You must lead with it and you must serve it to the world.

What is your gift? If you’re wondering that yourself, then ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What activities, topics, or issues energize me?
  2. When do I lose track of time?
  3. When do I find myself in a state of flow?
  4. What comes naturally to me?
  5. What do I find easy and interesting?
  6. When am I rewarded?
  7. What am I happy to share with others?

Meditate on these questions, uncover your gift and serve it to humanity.

8 Steps To Fulfilling Your Purpose

8 Steps To Fulfilling Your Purpose

What’s your vision for your life?

Some people naturally resent that question. Others are discouraged by it and then there are those who are provoked by it. Which are you?

Wherever you fall on the above spectrum, one thing is certain…your vision for your life is within you. Destiny has hidden your purpose inside you. So, your future is not ahead of you. It’s within you. An apple orchard is not ahead of the seed. The orchard is within the seed.

Destiny planted vision for your life within you so that it’s presence might provoke you towards it’s discovery.

The vision for your life is that lingering dream that continues to surface even from childhood.

The vision for your life is that stirring desire that faithfully resurfaces year after year.

Can you see it now? Has it just resurfaced?

Today, I heard it said that “a friend is anyone who is willing and committed to getting you to your destiny”. Let me, then, serve you as a friend by sharing the following 8 steps to fulfilling your purpose.

1. Capture your vision. You likely saw it flash through your mind’s eye already while reading this post. Return to it. Sit with it. Let it be without explanation or need for justification. Just let it be and receive it as it unfolds before your mind’s eye now.

2. Simplify your vision. Oft times, we’re inclined to think that our vision is silly. Our mind’s eye sees a ranch setting, a spectacular mountain-scape, and rolling green plains. In reply, our left hemisphere asks. “what does this have to do with anything? There couldn’t possibly be any value to this daydreaming.” But remember, the vision is like that seed buried deep in the soil of your spirit provoking you towards greater things and a more fulfilling life. Perhaps your “silly” mental image is the fodder necessary to stoke the flame of your inner drive. So, let your vision be without embellishment or explanation. Allow it to remain in its simple, unadulterated form.

3. Document your vision. This may prove challenging…Document your entire life purpose into one sentence. Your entire life into one sentence. Identify what you have to offer your generation and the world. Encapsulate it all within one sentence. As you do, you will find your vision growing remarkably clear.

4. Display your vision sentence. Throughout the spaces you occupy, display your vision sentence. In doing so, you’re training all aspects of your being (conscious and subconscious) to embrace and yield to your life vision.

5. Make a plan based on your vision sentence. In no way are you wedded to this plan, but once you’ve put pen to paper you’ve begun training your appetites to desire only those things that lend themselves to your life vision. You’re recruiting all areas of your life to support your purpose.

6. Revise your vision. From time to time, your vision will require a re·vision. This is your opportunity to evaluate whether you’re on course. If not, what changes need to be made?

7. Evaluate your vision. This is the time to ask yourself again, “Am I doing what I discovered that I’m here to do?” Your greatest enemy to a life fulfilled, a life ordered according to Destiny’s call, is distraction. Your greatest distractions are those good things that you lend yourself to that were never meant for you. Can you identify any such culprits presently in your life?

8. Vision comes in phases. Vision unfolds in phases and is fulfilled in phases. It’s a process requiring persistence, patience, and faith. Along the way, you will encounter ample opportunity to distract yourself with “good” things. However, a preoccupation with any good thing is no substitute for the right thing – that thing for which you were intended. Set about to please no one along the way. Seek only to be yourself. The greatest thing for you to discover is yourself. Your most recent success is not who you are, nor is the next. It’s important that you know this otherwise you may be inclined to settle thinking you’ve arrived. No matter how great you currently think you are, you’re destined for more. Press on!

Stay blessed! You are destined for great things. When adversity sets in, press on! You are of far too great import to settle for anything less than that which you were intended. Press on!

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