Are there any of us looking for a place of calm during these turbulent times?
As a long time seaman (surfer, sailor, deep sea fisherman, commercial fisherman, sports fisherman and U.S. Coast Guardsman), I tend to look at the joys and challenges of life through the nautical lenses of someone who has spent time on and in the ocean. This perspective has assisted me personally, as well as many of those I have counseled over the years, to successfully navigate through the challenges of life.
In nautical terms, safe and accurate navigation is key to survival and allows one, or a crew, to safely overcome and survive the turbulent and dangerous conditions of the ocean in order to reach a chosen destination. Then there are times that it becomes necessary to find shelter in a safe calm harbor protected from the wind and waves. In a quiet harbor where rest and restoration can be experienced and even repairs can be made so when it is time to continue the journey, the boat and crew are ready to continue toward the destination, rested, well stocked and seaworthy. Such is the case in our own lives – spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically.
The turbulent times we face as individuals very often occur in the context of relationships. These negative issues can seriously throw us off course. Marriages, family bonds, friendships and workplace relationships can be fragile in the best of times, if they are not managed and maintained with care. In fact the outcome of stormy relationships can be extremely damaging and in some cases debilitating. The emotional pain experienced in turbulent or severed relationships can also result in physical pain or illness. I know many of us have experienced this. It’s where the term “heartache” comes from.
The interesting and sad thing about us humans is that we tend to ruminate and focus our thoughts, feelings and energy on negative occurrences that have taken place in the past or are still remaining in the present. This is where the turbulent storms are formed in our lives, whipping up damaging waves of resentment, regret, bitterness, anger and sadness. These waves are often created without us realizing – and it is toxic. Somehow we believe that if we hang on to the resentment, we are stronger and in control; that we are inflicting punishment on those that have offended us. That is a mistaken thought process. Nelson Mandela in his wisdom wrote, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
The antidote to this poison is FORGIVENESS. It’s important to note that as humans, we may have trouble forgetting, but we can let it go and chose not to dwell on the offense or the offender through the action of forgiveness. If one is tired of being battered about and weighed down to the point of sinking beneath the waves, true peace can be found in the safe harbor of forgiveness. It may sound counter intuitive, but forgiveness is for the forgiver. It’s not even necessary for the person or people who have hurt us to ask for our forgiveness, nor is it necessary for you make contact with them. The act of forgiveness is for your holistic wellness. The famous self-help author and speaker Tony Robbins states it this way: “Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.” As a Christ follower, I would take this a giant step further…forgiveness is a gift, an ability God has given us in order to fully experience His grace and peace.
If you are a believer in our Creator Father, His Son, Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures, then you likely know the power of forgiveness that He provides daily in our lives as we live in that constant state of, not only having been forgiven, but in the present state of being forgiven. Does it not make sense that if we are accepting of this mysterious and life changing phenomenon that we should now take the action of passing on and sharing the forgiveness that we have received by grace, to those that have offended us? After we have forgiven all who have caused us pain in any way – we must now come to the point of forgiving ourselves. Again, I ask you, does it not make perfect sense that if we have accepted our Father’s forgiveness, we must forgive ourselves as He has and does forgive us? When we have finally accepted this truth and have acted on it, a weight will be lifted and we will experience the peace and calm of the safe harbor of forgiveness.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32, NASB)
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David M. Jones is a counselor and lecturer at Africa Nazarene University, Nairobi, Kenya.