Saturday, October 20, 2012

31 Days :: Preparing Your Heart with Forgiveness - Day 20

Yesterday we talked about how focusing on thankfulness can cause us to see things in a new light, but what about when we've been wounded so deeply that thankfulness is merely an action we wish we could muster...what to do then?  When hurt is involved we go from logic mode to feeling mode in an instant and most of the time our emotional side wins out.

The thing about feelings is that they can be fickle and flow with the currents of our emotions.  That's why it's so important to prepare our hearts ahead of time to protect us from the ever changing movement of circumstance.

I might not feel thankful today, but writing in my gratitude journal helps to get me moving in the thankful direction.  I might not feel like exercising today, but I do it anyway because I know my body needs it.  I might feel like eating that entire carton of ice cream, but I decide ahead of time to only eat a certain amount.  If we choose ahead of time how we respond to circumstances, we can then stem the tide of emotional currents and stay on course.

And so it is with forgiveness...

The very act of living means at some point and time we are going to be hurt.  Betrayal, abandonment, being used...they all leave marks on our hearts that can lead to anger.  By dwelling on these painful circumstances, the anger within can turn into bitterness, resentment and self-pity.  Then before we know it, we begin blaming others, ourselves and maybe even God. 

We've all been there...we've been hurt, we dwell, we get mad and then we stew.  But did you know that stewing over those hurts can actually create a physical reaction in your body?  Didn't realize the topic of forgiveness could turn into a health lesson, did ya (;  If the idea of thoughts directly affecting our bodies is something new, then you have to pick up Who Switched Off My Brain? Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions by Dr. Caroline Leaf.  She lays out a visual display that makes the concepts easy to understand and it's a favorite in my collection of reads.

Dr. Leaf states that 87% to 95% of the illnesses that plague us today are the direct result of our thought life.  What we think affects us physically and emotionally.  Through an uncontrolled thought life, we create the conditions for illness to thrive and we make ourselves sick.

Research shows that fear, all on its own, triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses and activates more than 30 different hormones.  Toxic waste generated by toxic thoughts can cause diabetes, cancer, asthma, skin problems and allergies, just to name a few.  Sounds to me like there are not only intellectual, but also medical reasons to forgive. 

In her book Dr. Leaf shares an example of this in the story of a woman who came home while her home was being robbed.  For three days after the robbery this woman was totally consumed with revenge, anger and fury at what had happened.  That same woman, who was perfectly healthy before the robbery, now uses a walker and is in constant pain with a laundry list of medical problems that didn't exist before the incident. 

The intensity of her emotions, combined with the power of adrenaline racing through her system, created a stew of toxicity that absolutely ruined her body.  Her doctors best explanation was that she "basically fried her body."  Those emotions of hate and fury had literally short-circuited her nervous system.  There's a reason they call it "stewing in your own juices." 

By making a choice ahead of time to forgive, we free our bodies from the fate of damaging toxic thoughts and emotions.  So where to start?  We've decided to embrace forgiveness before something happens, but how do we actually work through the process once the forgiving is called into action?

Make sure to come back tomorrow as we continue our 31 Days of Preparation and I'll share The 4 Steps of Forgiveness that I use to help keep my heart free from anchors.   If you enter your email below, each post will automatically be delivered to your inbox.

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Ÿ Day 2             Ÿ Day 8             Ÿ Day 13           Ÿ Day 18           Ÿ Day 23           Ÿ Day 28
Ÿ Day 3             Ÿ Day 9             Ÿ Day 14           Ÿ Day 19           Ÿ Day 24           Ÿ Day 29
Ÿ Day 4             Ÿ Day 10           Ÿ Day 15           Ÿ Day 20           Ÿ Day 25           Ÿ Day 30
Ÿ Day 5             Ÿ Day 11           Ÿ Day 16           Ÿ Day 21           Ÿ Day 26           Ÿ Day 31
Ÿ Day 6             Ÿ Day 12           Ÿ Day 18           Ÿ Day 1             Ÿ Day 22            Ÿ Day33

In Gratitude,

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