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The power to bless, Part II (the difficult part)

on February 24, 2012

As promised, here is part II of our discussion on blessing… even if it is a week late! (Sorry! We’ve had a crazy house the last couple of weeks!)

On my previous post, I talked about the natural and easy ways I have incorporated the act of blessing into my life (such as blessing my child and the people I serve at work). I say these are easy and natural because these blessings usually flow from a loving place. It’s easy to give my blessing to my child since I love him to pieces (and he is so cute and sweet!).

Lately I have been working on extending my blessings to others when I don’t necessarily feel like it. It takes some work on getting myself to that loving place before I can offer a genuine blessing. Being deliberate about this has made me more compassionate, and I trust that the people I am blessing are also benefitting from this practice.

I have been particularly focusing on when I am feeling judgmental about other people. If I am careful about paying attention to my thoughts, I realize that quite a few of them are judgmental! That is sobering, and it’s not who I want to be. The bottom line is, when I am thinking a judgmental thought, I am feeling better-than someone. That’s not OK. It takes a little bit of leg work for me to get from a place of judgement to a place of blessing, but this is how I’ve been tackling it:

When I first catch myself judging someone, I stop in my tracks by reciting the biblical verse in mind, “Judge not so that you will not be judged (Matthew 7:1).” Then (because I still need help getting to that loving place), I think of any statement that might contradict or challenge my initial judging statement. So, for instance, if I have thought, “This person is lazy!” I think of something that might render that false, such as “This person may be depressed,” or “This person works very hard on such and such.” Then I usually feel compassionate enough to bless this person in my mind.

This reminds me of that wonderful tradition (I think it’s Jewish – or maybe Sufi?) to ask yourself these questions about the words you are about to speak to/about someone: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

The second place where I have been laboring on blessing is when I am feeling envious of someone. This usually happens when someone close to me accomplishes something extraordinary, or something I’ve been wanting to accomplish myself. It can be something big like writing a book and having it published, or even something like having 100 people come to their zumba class when I’ve only had 25 (yes, friends, if this is you, I was envious). The bottom line is, when I am jealous, I am feeling less-than someone. That’s not OK either.

Fortunately I don’t have to do quite the same amount of legwork to get to a loving place in this situation, since what I am envious about is usually cause for celebration (and inspiration). When I find myself there (at envy) I recognize it for what it is, and ask God to help me celebrate their gifts. Then I usually feel free to send them a genuine blessing from my heart.

Now, the most difficult time for me to offer my blessing is when I am feeling hurt or damaged by someone. I am talking about those people who have really done terrible or unjust things to us or to our loved ones. This is the one time when I feel like offering a curse, rather than a blessing. We all have suffered injustices or abuse, and the worst or more hurtful ones usually come from someone in our immediate or extended family. That can leave us with ambiguous feelings toward people who are closest to us.

This is the one that requires the most work, and I have found that the work is ongoing. I used to think that when Jesus said to forgive seventy times seven, he meant to forgive an individual of 490 different things. Now I think he may have meant to forgive that person 490 times for one thing. At least that is how it works with me sometimes. I do not mean letting that person commit the same evil to you 490 times. I am talking about letting go of the curse, the urge to seek revenge, and the bitterness. And blessing the person — not the sin. After all, blessing is the invoking of God’s grace over someone.

It takes a lot to be able to say, “I bless you” to someone who has hurt us deeply (even if only in our mind). I know it because I still have trouble blessing a couple of individuals. Thankfully it is a work in progress and our efforts have blessings in themselves. Dr. Joan Borysenko (who wrote a book titled Seventy Times Seven — I’ve not read the book but it’s on my reading list) has studied forgiveness and its impact on health. She found that even making the effort to forgive someone is guaranteed to enhance the immune system. Isn’t that amazing? If I cannot get to a place where I can genuinely forgive or bless someone, I then ask God to help me get there. And if I am sooo angry that I don’t want to get there, then I ask God to help me be open to the work of forgiveness. I suppose that, if you do not even want to be open to it, you can go back even further and ask God to help you have the motivation for openness. Baby steps, my friends!

The bottom line is, when we’re feeling hurt/damaged, we’re also feeling victimized. Forgiving someone and extending our blessing also frees us from the identity of “the victim” toward a more empowering identity. Sometimes, when I am bothered by a memory of a time when I was victimized, I tell myself, “I am no longer in that place and am no longer a victim.”

By the way, in all these cases I am usually blessing people in my mind, which I believe does make a difference spiritually (or even energetically, if you will) and sometimes may be the most appropriate thing.  But in many cases, it doesn’t hurt to make the blessing more concrete by sending a note of thanks or encouragement or even forgiveness to the people you’ve blessed. I need more work on this follow-through part.

In keeping with the last post, here’s another video for you…  I love the accoustic version of LeAnn Rimes’ “What I cannot change” song and sometimes use it for the cooldown during my zumba class. I couldn’t find an official video with the accoustic version but here’s a beautiful video from The Harper Studio, promoting Rimes’ book with the same title:

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6 responses to “The power to bless, Part II (the difficult part)

  1. jfabulous43 says:

    With my evening prayers, I always bless my family and friends, but I have found it hard to bless my enemies.

  2. Jason Burner says:

    Interesting post. I’ve always found it easy to forgive others, but after thinking about what you said about ‘blessing’ those who have wronged you it made me realize that I forgive for my own benefit (anger rots you from the inside and I want no part of that) and not the benefit of the person who I am upset with. Taking the extra step and blessing the person that I have just forgiven is not something that I would enjoy doing, but I suppose that doesn’t really matter. For the 100th time you’ve said something that will improve me, and for the 100th time I’m not liking it. 😉

  3. NickAndrea19 says:

    A short while ago, I was really into life coaching. The guy who created the IPEC school of coaching wrote an extraordinary book on the process, called Energy Leadership, in which he defines seven levels of energy. The highest one, ironically, was called “Non-judgment.” I really got that at the time, and it was almost laughable and hard to believe that it was that simple. But when I was really firing on all cylinders, it was. The highest was seeing that there was nothing to judge in that “lazy” person, that “lustful” person, that “inept” person. Behind all of that is a story, and generally we wouldn’t want to be feeling whatever it is that’s causing them to behave as they are, so if anything compassion is the most appropriate response.

    So true. That’s all about us. Everything that hurts us is about us. Hurting truly for others is not the same, it’s not true suffering.

    I would imagine forgiving yourself works this way, too. I’ll get back to you when I’ve come even close to beginning to be good at that.

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