...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Choosing Forgiveness as an Adult Child

Reading the latest email from Tyler Perry celebrating the movie Precious and his 40th birthday (man he's young!) reminds me of the blessing of being alive at any age. To survive a childhood filled with trauma and abuse is reason for gratitude. And yet in adulthood, survival is more about our choosing spiritual health.

Attributing his childhood survival to God, that voice within of comfort and strength amidst the worst dished out to him, Perry states:

To know that the little boy that I was went through all that-- he went through and made it. Then me, as a man...I have to take on the responsibility of forgiving all those people. I owe it to the little boy that I was and, more than that, I owe it to the man that I am. Think about it, as a child we have no recourse. We have nowhere to go. We have to endure it. But as adults, we have choices. I choose to forgive with all my might. Forgiveness has been my weapon of choice. It has helped to free me.

As Perry notes, choosing forgiveness is very much about self-preservation as well as healing. Instead of doing harm to ourselves or wanting to see others suffer, we're the ones released and set free. We give up the terribly draining chore of playing official score keeper in the personal court of retributive justice! But the thirst for vengeance runs deep. It's physically fueled by the angry fight response which saps our energy. That's why regularly praying for those who do us harm is so important. It's how "choosing life" is practiced, on the ground.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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