Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Healing Power of Forgiveness

Forgiveness has healing power. Forgiving those who have hurt or wronged us frees us from the past. It changes us. But it’s not easy nor is it a quick fix. It takes time and deliberate intention. Forgiveness is a process and it’s an act of the will.

Unforgiveness is like radioactive waste seeping into our souls. It pollutes every area of life, perhaps even lowering our immune system and contributing to a variety of physical illnesses. It also harms us spiritually. No one is content while bitter and resentful. We must forgive in order to free ourselves. We can easily forgive an unkind remark made unintentionally by someone who really cares for us. We can’t quickly or easily forgive physical, sexual or emotional abuse received in childhood. The deeper the wound the more difficult it is to work through the painful emotions connected to it.

Forgiveness does not condone hurtful, abusive behavior. Rather, when we forgive we give up our right to be angry and resentful; our feelings are justified but we let go of them. How can we forgive deep hurts? It helps to tell a trusted friend or counselor all the gory details. Another way to do this is to write about what was done to you; write about the thing you can’t forgive. This will help you let go of it.

Forgiveness is not an emotion; it’s an act of the will. We choose to forgive. We think we must “forgive and forget,” but this is not true. It’s normal to forgive but still remember what happened. The Bible commands us to forgive. And we need to remember God has forgiven us. When we close our heart to others we also close it to God. Ask God to help you forgive.

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Healing Power of the Truth

There is healing power in facing the truth and in telling the truth. Many of us hide our true thoughts, our true feelings or even our true self. We learn as children to pretend we’re happy when we we’re not. We avoid certain subjects in order to keep peace in the family and not upset Mom, Dad or Grandma. Over time we develop a false self. We bury painful feelings and smile on the outside.

As adults we continue this charade. We ignore our own needs to keep peace in our marriage. We avoid having opinions because we don’t want anyone to be upset if we have a different opinion. Pretending takes enormous energy. And we pay a price for it. We may overeat, drink too much or work too much to avoid facing the truth. We may develop physical symptoms in response to the disconnection from our core self. Our relationships also suffer.

Being open, real, transparent is not easy. For most of us it takes work and it feels risky. I heard a missionary from Indonesia this week, Paul Richardson, who modeled openness. I highly recommend his book, A Certain Risk. He spoke of the difficulty of living a secret life. Even though it’s dangerous to live in Indonesia as a Christian, he has always been open about his faith and his reason for being there. He believes keeping secrets affects our souls, and I agree. When we do this we live a divided life. Being open and truthful may seem risky. I believe it’s worth taking “a certain risk” in order to live with inner freedom.

How can we break out of a pattern of hiding, of wearing masks? Pray about it and ask God to guide you. Admit the truth to yourself. Journal the truth or share the truth with a trusted friend, pastor or counselor. Come out of hiding and the truth will set you free.

“You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Healing Power of Loving Words

Loving words heal. Critical and angry words hurt. We need to hear loving words from friends and loved ones. Loving words from others help us know we are valued and deepen our relationships. Usually we are quick to share criticisms; to say words that hurt. Silence can also hurt. For example: “She knows how I feel without my having to say it.” Does she? We don’t know another person’s thoughts unless they are expressed verbally. Most of us crave more love and acceptance than we receive.

A study was done years ago to discover how tone of voice affected men in the Navy being given orders. The results showed that the way a sailor was addressed largely determined the kind of response he gave. When a sailor was given an order in a soft voice he responded in a soft voice. When he was shouted at his answer was also sharp. What we say and the way we say it affects the response we get and leads to either conflict or peace. The words that we say can give a mixed message due to our tone of voice. Sarcasm may seem funny but it isn’t loving.

Why do we withhold our thoughts of love from each other when these can heal past hurts and deepen a relationship? The reason lies in our own past. No one said these words to us so we feel strange, awkward and vulnerable when we say them. But the risk is worth it and will bring many rewards. Comment on positive traits such as kindness, generosity or thoughtfulness in addition to commenting on things loved ones accomplish or on their appearance. Affirmations heal our mind, body and soul.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

Blessings, Dottie

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Healing Power of Faith

There is scientific evidence that faith heals. A 1995 issue of The Mind/Body Medicine Newsletter cited a study by Thomas Oxman of Dartmouth Medical School. Oxman investigated the role faith plays in health. The study of 232 patients who had open heart surgery found that patients who gained strength and comfort from their religious beliefs were three times more likely to survive than those who had no comfort from religious faith. In addition, those who participated in social and community groups had three times the survival rate of those who didn’t take part in any organized activity. Those who had both protective factors - religious and social support - had a ten fold increase in survival.

The researchers don’t understand how faith extends life. They speculate that faith is physiologically calming and prevents problems during recovery. Also, faith gives meaning to life which is medically helpful. In contrast, the person without faith leads a more stressful life due to the lack of purpose he attributes to life.

Larry Dossey, M.D., in his book Healing Words presents evidence that prayer heals. Dossey cites a double-blind controlled study of 393 patients assigned to two groups. 192 patients were prayed for and 201 patients were not prayed for. The results were dramatic. The group that was prayed for were five times less likely to require antibiotics and three times less likely to develop pulmonary edema. He says “It is simply a fact that patients sometimes improve dramatically following prayer.”

A Columbia University study reported in the New York Times Magazine, December 9, 2001, found that women in a fertility clinic were almost twice as likely to get pregnant when, without their knowledge, strangers were praying for them to conceive. Women in the prayed-for group had a pregnancy rate of 50 percent versus 26 percent for women in the control group.

Those of us who have experienced the healing power of prayer are not surprised by these findings.

“Is anyone of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is anyone of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.” James 4:13-15

Blessings, Dottie