Beliefnet

My father's death, and the personal storm that resulted from it, have long since past. But, in the following paragraphs, I share some of the things I've learned along the way. Remember these when life's storm begin to rage around you. Or, within you.

1. Storms come to everyone. Sooner or later and, usually, sooner than later. No one is picking on you.  I know it sometimes feels as if someone may be, especially when the wind and waves are tossing you to and fro emotionally, spiritually, or even financially. Try to guard against the mental noise in your head, noise associated with thoughts and feelings that someone is picking on you...or that nobody cares...or has ever had it as bad as you. Look around. There are always others whose storms make yours look like a spring shower by comparison. Get out of your head, as often as you can. Examine every thought as to its truthfulness. Why? Because most of your thoughts are not only not true, they're not even remotely true.

2. Storms are not personal. Instructive perhaps. But not personal. So, don't take them that way. When you catch yourself thinking such things like, "God is punishing me," remind yourself that such thoughts are the consequence of faulty theological thinking and the mental conditioning that was likely preached at you for decades and drilled into you by sincere, but sincerely misguided religious people. It'll take time, too, to re-program your thinking. For now, recognize that  such thinking will lead only to greater despair...more guilt...perhaps even depression.

This is tricky, I know.  In the east, they speak of Karma. In the west, people will say, "You reap what you sow."

It is true our actions have consequences. But you cannot look at every storm as if it is some kind of Divine reaction to the choices you've made or failed to make in life.

Oh, I suppose you can. But to do so is not likely to lead to anything good and, most likely, just more pain.

What I'd suggest instead is that, when you feel there's a connection between the choices you've made in life and the consequences you're experiencing, why don't you give your attention to what you might learn from the experience...or, what you might pass on to others that might be beneficial to them...or, how you might set the record straight and make amends...and, in the mix of all of this, should you ask yourself, "Do I need a little self-forgiveness here?"

Forgiveness is not making excuses for your choices you've made. Nor is it ignoring the consequences your choices have caused. Forgiveness is simply deciding instead to let it all go - internally. It is the conscious decision to release the heaviness of self-recrimination, punishment, and guilt.

If it helps to ask God to forgive you, then do, too. But stop the unnecessary pleading or begging for God's forgiveness, as if God will not until you've reached a certain, but imaginary degree of self-punishment on the righteousness-meter.

God IS forgiveness. Your task is to forgive yourself.

3. Storms do not last forever. But they may get worse before they get better. Know, however, that a rainbow hangs in the rainfall. The storm will pass. It must.

One of today's headlines reads, "Record Breaking Storm," referring to the approaching tropical storm Chantal. Sometimes, they are. Most of the time, they're not. But, any of the time we're going through a storm, we should remind ourselves, "This, too, shall pass."

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