There are two things we can practice for the entirety of our lives: gratitude and forgiveness. The spiritual life is concerned with both. I can’t think of more vital practices during the holiday’s than gratitude and forgiveness.
There are better, deeper writers on this subject than I can offer. To be grateful is to want less (consumerism) and to express thanksgiving for the life and relationships we have. Our culture can sometimes create false comparisons and make us feel like we’re missing out on something.
- Posts of couples laughing (not seeing the arguments or normal struggles of a relationship).
- Posts of someone giving us 3 keys to instant success (but not seeing that it can take years to cultivate the keys).
To be filled with gratitude takes a willingness to take ownership of our lives and say,
“this is the life I have cultivated…for better or for worse…I am here. I am responsible for it.”
“And when he had given thanks, he broke the bread”
This holiday season, I’m grateful for my dad. He has been a source of comfort during a trying season. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to walk alongside such great employees!
The hardest person to forgive is ourselves and our enemies. There is a correlation between how much we judge ourselves and how much we treat others with contempt.
If I am responsible for my life and am taking ownership of it, then this means I will make decisions that are life giving and life taking. I will fail. I will let myself and others down.
So the spiritual life asks me to do something with that inner energy of shame, anger, or resentment. It asks me to forgive myself and my enemies. Not blindly. And not without boundaries if they’re needed (most relationships need some boundaries).
I am growing in forgiveness for poor decisions I’ve made this year. I’m also growing in forgiveness for others who are sometimes hurtful with their words and actions.
A freebie: practicing gratitude and forgiveness lowers our levels of depression and anxiety. They increase hope and create enlargement for a life of spirituality and wholeness.
“Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
May you be blessed and kept this holiday season.
May your face shine with gratitude and forgiveness.