Forgiving With Gratitude
by Michael Foster, MA
A good friend of mine thinks that most people will not get what I am writing here. They may be right. I am going beyond suggesting forgiveness. I am suggesting finding gratitude for everything that has and will happen and is happening. My friend is right in that this is a new way of thinking. It is just another way to find more peace and happiness and enjoyment of life.
My good friend would ask: Have you ever experienced a moment of undefinable unease, like you have forgotten something and can not recall what it was, or even if it was all a figment of your overactive imagination? Have you ever had the feeling that lurking somewhere inside of you, is an unsatisfied reservoir of unfinished life and spiritual business? Have you been missing some of life's riches, because of the pains you fear might be in your way?
In evading any unfinished business you can also be evading your healing, gifts, and the beauties you have blocked from your awareness. When you have had a love that you have now grieved and now remember having had the wonderful blessing from that love you have a glimpse of how much you can have.
It took me an awful long time to understand at least part of this concept of gratitude. I was almost a grandfather before I got any handle on how this works. I can now remember, forgive and accept, and then remember with gratitude. That would have been much harder at first. I needed some guides to show me the way. I had many guides in books and people that showed me parts at a time. I had to learn that some of my blessings came in the disguise of "bad" things. Sometimes all we need is to hear the stories of someone who had forgiven and now remembers with gratitude. That is what I am doing here. I also need to remember the essence of this story.
Generic spiritual wisdom tells us that gratitude is a wise quality to foster. For examples:
There once was a very old teacher that was stabbed in the back by a robber. He turned to give her his purse and thanked her for saving him from any old age illnesses. She held him close to get as much of his gratitude as she could. She buried him with reverence as he had become her teacher. She then lived a life of gratitude including doing good deeds for those she had robbed. When she was a very old teacher she was ready to give her gift.
There are thirty four verses in the King James Bible that say to "give thanks". The verse that can be the most challenging is 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that says "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." That can be most challenging when "bad" things happen.
What about the "bad" things that happened to me as a baby? How could I forgive the "bad" things that happened to me as a baby? Well, it took almost all the time it took for me to be a grandfather to begin to understand, forgive, remember, and be grateful. You and I do not have to take as long when we get what I am writing in my story. We could choose to forgive, remember, and be grateful, today.
As a very young man I distrusted and hated the American Medical Association and some doctors. I felt a low grade terror when I was in hospitals and did not know why. Now I understand why I distrusted and hated them and felt that terror. It took a long time to learn to forgive, remember and be grateful. Now I know that they were doing the best they could with what they were conscious of. Now both doctors and the AMA have learned a lot and will learn more each year.
I was the first child that made the way for two sisters. I found out that I had a difficult birth and the doctor had used forceps to leverage me out into this world. The doctor had used the forceps so much force that the forceps left about a 1/2 inch impression in my head. As I grew up I found I had lost all of my hearing in my left ear. I also found out later that this is why I was shy. I found it difficult to be in large groups and still hear someone close. I found I enjoyed becoming an intimate friend much more than knowing a lot of people superficially. As I was being healed of my shyness, I learned about some of my blessings in disguise. They are many.
First, I learned to listen a lot better. I found that most people do not really listen and value their hearing. I do value my hearing and learning what people are really saying. I learned to listen in depth with more understanding and more forgiveness. My eyes fill in and add to what I am hearing. I found out as a child that I could help people learn how to resolve their challenges and mine. I have continued to learn more and more from this lesson. Since I am hearing what I am hearing, I sometimes hear what is closer to me and do not hear people that think I hear them. For instance, I have to keep telling some that the water I am hearing up close is speaking louder than they are.
Second, I learned to really listen on the inside. I listened for so long that it is now usually silent inside with only one quiet voice and just a knowing of what I need to know when I need to know. I had been blessed with a way to automatically meditate most of my life from the gift of my wound. I have learned that we are all wounded in some ways and are in need of recovery. I am just one wounded puppy on our planet with about six billion wounded puppies. Part of my recovery process is to be aware in more difficult circumstances. You could try the experiment of putting an ear plug in one ear and see how it is in challenging places like a cocktail party.
Third, I had low endurance for most of my life. Part of my energy left me at the time of my birth trauma. We all lose some during our birth trauma. That low grade terror I felt in hospitals was some of my energy returning when I was being reminded of my birth traumas. When the rest of my energy finally returned in depth, it produced spiritual experiences that are still meaningful to me today.
Fourth, when my energy was returning my recovery process was diagnosed as both schizophrenic and manic depression. I got the privilege of learning how one can recover from what people call mental illnesses. I learned that mental illnesses are not what most people and doctors think they are. It is really a spiritual birth and growth process judged as bad by most participants. I can help many more difficult cases recovery because I have been there and done that. I then went on to learn more about mental recovery processes and now have a masters in applied psychology.
Fifth, I was privileged to have the experiences of a Marine recruit in boot camp. I say privileged because with no left ear and low endurance, I did not belong there. With low endurance I was not of as much use physically. With no only one ear and a lot of noise in the field I missed hearing many things, including orders from my leaders. I found out later that others were given medical discharges for losing their hearing in one ear. I say privileged because when I was going through the terrors and fears of my recovery from my "mental illness", it was still easier than boot camp for a person of low endurance and poor balance and poor hearing. I was blessed to have the training I needed later and for all my life. I found I could do and take a lot more than I though I could.
Sixth, I learned that in the hundreds of people I have worked with in depth that they also had blessings in disguise for all the "bad" things that happened to them. Most of them found their treasures in their "bad" things. Not all of them found their treasures in their "bad" things yet, but I was privileged to get glimmers of their treasures.
Seventh, I often pushed myself to overcome my shyness and ended up in a long career as a project team leader. I worked with many Navy Captains that taught me many lessons. I had world class position, experience and training. It turned out that the doctor that used those forceps was a Navy Captain. My blessings had come full circle.
Michael Foster is a long time resident of Marlton. He has moved to Frederick. He is available for consulting on work teams and individuals on their recovery and improvement processes and to give presentations to community groups on improving team working, improving prayer and improving our lives and on recovering from shyness and mental illnesses. He has a daily recovery hint at http://www.RecoveryByDiscovery.com/daily.htm and can be reached at (301) 668-9965 and Post@RecoveryByDiscovery.com.
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