Slow Road to Everything

Sustainability takes time. If you want something to last, you need to go slow. Want good grades? Study often. Want more fitness? Exercise often. Want to play the flute? Practice often. Want better relationships? Listen often.

Good things can come from repetition. A fabulous relationship isn’t built in a day. It takes years to build, then sustain trust.

So I’m worried. Our relations with our Middle Eastern neighboring countries isn’t looking so good. We’re embracing the default us versus them mentality. We aren’t looking at the deeper realities. We see what we want to see. Nothing good can come from retaliation. It’s shortsighted. And the bullying goes on.

Last night I started really thinking about forgiveness. It is the slow road to everything. It takes time to release the hurts of the past. But it is possible. It truly is.

Below I compiled a few words of forgiveness. Please feel free to add yours.

  • Two wrongs make two wrongs. One wrong + forgiveness = the beginning of something wonderful.
  • If someone wronged you, reach for forgiveness. It will set you free. I promise.
  •  No wrongful act is ever justified. But forgiveness always is.
  • Gratitude – and its cousin joy – comes automatically when we learn to let things go.
  • Die Liebe hat eine enorme Kraft. Vergebung ebenso (Love has enormous power; as does forgiveness).
  • Forgiveness isn’t about another person. It’s about you.
  • When we move out of the shadows of hatred, we can shed the light of forgiveness.
  • I don’t know about you; but when I hold on to shit, it stinks.
  • Nothing is more moving than grief turned into forgiveness. We may lose a lot in this life, but what we gain through those experiences is immeasurable.
  • Regret is about holding onto the past; forgiveness paves the way for the future.

Why should we forgive? Because the alternative harms everyone; including yourself.

The Peacemakers

Flash back to 1990. American University. Washington, D.C. I studied peace and conflict with a professor who had been tortured. He of all people had reason to be angry. But he wasn’t. He saw the importance of bringing peace to a war-torn world. And he taught us that conflict can only be resolved when you make peace with yourself.

The news of Paris brought me to my knees today. My life partner and I stared at the screen, holding hands and crying for the people who were directly affected by senseless acts of violence. I felt a deep sense of loss, as if a piece of myself had died with them. Later today I felt a surging need to make the wrongs of my own past right and reached out to a few people who hurt me deeply. It only felt right to stop my internal warfare. I did it for the people of Paris. I did it for world peace. I did it for me.

We often carry bad feelings around with us. Past hurts we thought had healed really won’t until we forgive. It starts with each one of us.

I have been studying peace for twenty-five years. And it wasn’t until today that I realized war begins with individuals. People fight for a cause — and against nations to push through their own agendas. They ban together, using strength in numbers and random acts of violence to grab the world’s attention. We often think we need bodies of governance such as the United Nations or the European Union to bring peace to the world. But what we really need is to make peace within. If we do that, we reverberate that forgiving power to the rest of our lives. Others are positively impacted by our willingness to forgive. Our willingness to love. Our willingness to be kind.

So what do you need to begin your own peace negotiations?

Trust. Trust yourself. Trust your truest intentions. Trust that your gesture of forgiveness will garner its own reward for it will bring you eternal grace.

Listen. Listen to yourself. Listen to others. Lend a caring ear to those who are hurting. Show them they matter.

Risk. Risk being vulnerable. Risk rejection. Risk the chance to make amends. Build on that momentum and you will be free no matter how others respond.

Love. Above all else, love yourself. Be kind. Accept your imperfections. They make up who you are. Know that you deserve Big Love. If you give it freely, it will return to you.

Fear won’t heal the world.

Loving kindness and the courage to forgive in the face of our ubiquitous pain and suffering will.

Expectation Management and the Crush of Instant Everything

Disappointment comes from the mind, forgiveness from the heart. When faced with frustrating — and frustrated — reactions, my instinct is to run for cover. I have to fight it like a wasp at a beer garden. Chasing away the feeling of dis-ease isn’t easy. Nor is it really possible. The more I push, the deeper the feeling entrenches itself in my very being. It’s like getting lost in a labyrinth with no conceivable way out.

The only thing left to do in moments when the world seems to be speaking a different language than yours is to sit with it. Allowing for bad feelings takes away their power. Fighting them simply feeds it.

When I first learned German, I had to learn how to be comfortable with not really knowing what was going on, what people where saying or what might happen next. It has been a life lesson to remain centered without proper information. And when you get false information or misinterpreted data, that’s when things can really fall apart. Add to it someone else’s blame or lack of understanding and it starts to sting like a bee.

We have so many ways of communicating today – now more than ever. And yet the quality of that communication has been replaced with fast and furious texting, emails and instant messages. I don’t know about you, but I’m not made for this instant world. Instant, in many cases, has taken the place of intimacy.

Speaking to the God within everyone is my intention. Sometimes I fail. Miserably. My ego lashes out; feelings get hurt (including my own) and I start to wonder how I got to this place. My best friend then reminds me that I too am a perfectionist, albeit a reluctant one. If I could just ease up those expectations for a moment, things would be a lot easier. But then she reminds me that that is who I am and why I get to live the way I do. I never stop questioning, even when I sometimes don’t really want to hear the answer.

“It is a privilege to live out who you really are,” she advised.

I think it is a necessity.

Slow is where I am meant to be and having recently listened to a number of people feeling the crush of instant everything, it may soon be a world that more people join too.