How do we forgive when we don’t want to?

Do you find it difficult to forgive? You are not alone, most of us do.

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Alisonward.me

It’s easy to forgive the person who steps on your toe in the elevator.  What about the person who shaped your life by their abuse when you were a child. What of the husband who cheated on you, thus ruining your dreams of a happy marriage?

One balmy summer evening recently hubby and I were walking in our neighborhood with the dogs. Rather the dogs were walking us, I caught the heady scent of pine from the huge trees down our street.

The fragrance released by the warm temperature hung thickly in the air. As we passed underneath the trees I breathed in deeply, my senses alive with enjoyment from this delightful aroma.

I thought of how the heat in our lives brings out the fragrance that is within. Is it a wonderful scent or the stench of years of bitterness resulting from unforgiveness?

The pleasant fragrance from our lives is that of good works, like forgiveness.

Forgiveness seems to be so hard for us, and yet it is the requirement for God forgiving us.

Forgiveness is a grace that sets us free.

 In a research survey, 80% of people interviewed said they had learned from their parents how and when it is appropriate to forgive. Natalie responded in one of these interviews that her mom never apologised or asked for forgiveness and she was the same way.

Muner, Maisy; My Research Paper- Forgiveness. (http://forgivenn.weebly.com/my-research-paper.html)

 We are obligated to learn the grace of forgiveness for the sake of our children and grandchildren, as well as for our own salvation.

How Can we Forgive?

 C.S. Lewis said: “Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night ‘forgive our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.’ We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what He says.”

S. Lewis,The Weight of Glory(New York: Harper Collins, 2001; Originally published 1949), 181-183.

God wants to save us from ourselves, from the weight that unforgiveness adds to our souls.

Here are 8 signs that show we need to forgive:

  • When we can’t think about the person without strong negative emotion
  • When we lie awake at night thinking of revenge or self-defense
  • When we rehearse the incidents relating to this person over in our head
  • When we know the feelings are so deep down we stop ourselves from going there
  • When we treat others badly
  • When we won’t get close to anyone and we won’t let them close to us
  • When we have more negative emotions in a day than positive
  • When we are depressed about the past

The secret to freedom is to forgive.

It is the grace of God, working in our life that empowers us to truly forgive.

We may also need a friend, a counselor, or a pastor to help us see perspective and to pray with us as we let go.

How Do We Forgive?

  1. Recall the goodness of God and how He has forgiven us
  2. Pray a prayer: “Forgive me my trespasses as I forgive (and insert the person/s name here) ___________ who has trespassed against me (Matt 6:12).
  3. Write a letter to the person who has offended you pouring out all your emotions and keep writing till the emotion is spent. Then write across the letter, “DEBT PAID IN FULL”, and tear it up
  4. In your thoughts, refuse to dwell on the person’s deed towards you, and keep bringing your thoughts back to these 3 previous actions you have taken
  5. Finally, refuse to speak badly of the person, to gossip or to say caustic remarks about them.

All these points will aid in pressing the reset button in your heart towards God and towards your hurt.

You may have heard of the story of the little girl examining at her grandmother’s quilt she is stitching. She asks why the threads are all hanging loose, making the quilt look ugly and unfinished.

Granny turns the quilt over, to show her the finished side and tenderly replies that the little girl is looking at the quilt from the wrong side, as the other side is quite beautiful!

God is looking at the finished side of the quilt of our lives, already seeing the beauty of a life lived fully by the finished work of the cross applied to our lives as Christians, and forgiving others as we are forgiven is a massive part of that!

Question: What else has helped you to forgive?

Workaholism: A Life out of Balance

 

Workaholism: A Life out of Balance
Workaholism: A Life out of Balance

Workaholism: is it a life out of balance or a prerequisite of success in modern society?

workaholic is a person who works compulsively. While the term generally implies that the person enjoys their work, it can also imply that they simply feel compelled to do it.

I find it difficult to switch off to work, any kind of work. Just one more task, one more project, one more thing…

How about you?

Workaholism seems to be a trend on the increase among women today. And by the way, you do not have to be out at work to be a workaholic. Women in the home can hide behind work too.

Barbara Killinger, PhD says: “I defined a workaholic as a work-obsessed individual who gradually becomes emotionally crippled and addicted to power and control in a compulsive drive to gain approval and public recognition of success. These driven men and women live a Gerbil-wheel, adrenalin-pumping existence rushing from plan A to B, narrowly-fixated on some ambitious goal or accomplishment. Eventually, nothing or no one else really matters.”

 [https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-workaholics/201112/understanding-the-dynamics-workaholism].

Workaholism May be a Symptom of a Deeper Problem.

It is a fact that workaholics are not more productive than non-workaholics, but they do burn out faster!

Loren Stein, M.A. says, “Here’s a rule of thumb: Can you enjoy life and feel energetic and purposeful when you’re not at work? If the answer is no, you may be in the danger zone. Since workaholics get high from the fix of deadlines, long hours, and single-minded focus on work, other parts of their lives tend to fall by the wayside.”

[http://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/work-and-health-41/occupational-health-news-507/workaholism-646679.html]

Perfectionism in the workplace or business is a need for control.

It is also a cover up.

Cover make up works for a while to cover blemishes and scars, but the advertising is hollow. When you remove it you see the imperfection highlighted all the more by the harsh light of reality.

Many women in the workplace are finding themselves prone to workaholism to prove themselves in a competitive marketplace or to be seen to be ‘good enough’ to break through the glass ceiling.

Ask yourself: What basic needs am I covering up with my workaholism and desire for perfection?

Workaholism will affect, and may even destroy your health, your family and your life!

The point is, we are called to many vocations (callings), the calling to family, the calling to workplace or business, the calling to church, the calling to community, etc.

To raise one calling above another and pour all one’s affections, attention and energies into only one calling is sinful. It is the sin of omission, which neglects the other callings God has given you in favor of the one that meets your needs or covers up your deep longings.

Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
    hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
   If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
    does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
    and will he not repay man according to his work? (Prov 24:11-12, ESV).

 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.(James 4:17, ESV).

According to these scriptures, if we know to do something good and do not do it, it is still sin.

I am sure you have heard the old saying that no one on their deathbed ever wished they had spent more time at the office.

 They always wish that they spent more time building family relationships.

Our capitalistic society and workplace is a black hole! It will suck you in if you allow it. It may even be the Burmuda triangle, just waiting to pull you in and not let go. We are greedy for more, and so the workplace is greedy for more of your time, your effort and expenditure.

God’s mission for us is to fulfil all of our callings, without feeling the pull of one over the other.

The emotional cover up versus the emotional exposure of relationship building that is needed in the home may be the reason why workaholics will spend their time willingly at the office at the expense of family time.

It is easy to hide one’s true self and mask one’s emotions under a pile of work!

Family will let you know they are unhappy with your workaholism through subtle whispers or perhaps loud shouts of discontent.

Do not lose your family due to this ungodly practice!

Listen out for the telltale signs in conversation with others close to you. At first the little signs will be there, but once they stop talking, you are in deeper trouble, leading to relationship breakdown:

  • Behavioral problems with your kids-acting out, etc
  • Inability to connect at an intimate level with your spouse
  • Your spouse has stopped talking to you
  • Breakdown of meaningful conversations with those close to you
  • A constant nagging inside that this is not all there is
  • A lack of desire to go home, as things there are ‘not good’

What is the difference between a hard worker and a work addict? The difference lies in the feeling of fulfillment. A hard worker will relish work and feel good about achieving goals and projects. A workaholic will do the work, but resent others who do not work as hard or as many hours. They feel that no one else works as hard as they do, and have an air of superiority that no one else can match up.

And therein lies the biggest problem.

No one can match up to this perfectionism in the form of workaholism!

Thus over time, the workaholic becomes isolated inside and outside. They feel a sense of alienation from the rest of the world. They isolate themselves from others even in the workplace, and are not the best people to have on your team.

Anger and fear are two really strong operative emotions in the life of the workaholic.

Fear in the workaholic of work being taken away, and anger in the family at the lack or loss of time and affection and attentiveness towards the family.

Researchers came up with the Bergen Work Addiction Scale (BWAS) taken from tests for addictions. ‘If you have to admit that at least four of these statements sounds like you “often” or “always,” the researchers suggest you might want to stop laughing about your overwork and consider intervention.

  • You think of how you can free up more time to work.
  • You spend much more time working than initially intended.
  • You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness, or depression.
  • You have been told by others to cut down on work but you don’t listen.
  • You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
  • You de-prioritize hobbies, leisure activities, or exercise because of your work.
  • You work so much that it has negatively affected your health.’

[http://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/the-7-signs-of-workaholism.html]

There is nice quiz for you to take at 20-signs-you-might-be-a-workaholic-and-what-to-do-about-it.

The Results in Health Damage and Loss of Family Closeness

“A workaholic will die faster than an alcoholic any day,” says Diane Fassel, PhD, an organizational consultant in Boulder, Colorado, and author of Working Ourselves to Death.

[http://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/work-and-health-41/occupational-health-news-507/workaholism-646679.html]

Burnout, depression and serious health breakdowns are the price to pay for working ourselves ‘to death’.

What Should Family Members do?

Respectfully and non confrontationally approach your workaholic loved one. Tell them how what they are doing affects you. Use “I” not “you” language, and let them know how much you love them and want them to be close to you; how you understand they may find it difficult not to work all the time, but that you as a family need them too. They may not respond with favorable changes, but they have at least understood this to be behavior that needs attention.

What Should the Workaholic do?

You must confront this addiction head on. You are going to need to ask for help from someone else to see your life as you can’t see it, as work addiction and work dependency is a blind spot. See a counselor, pastor, therapist or coach, but deal with it you must, before it destroys your health, family and every other calling in your life.

Many people have said they needed to admit they are addicted to work, and seek help from an outside source to gain clarity on the way forward, as habits are difficult to change and default is close to the reset button.

I would love to hear your thoughts on today’s blog on workaholism.

Do you think workaholism is becoming a bigger problem amongst women leaders today? Why or why not?

Leave a comment on the blog or hit ‘reply’ to connect with me.

 

 

 

Coaching as a Means of Growth

Coaching as a Means of Growth
Coaching as a Means of Growth

Coaching stimulates growth!

Think about your most valuable learning moments.

How did they happen?

Through a book, or a speaker when you were searching for an answer? At a time we are seeking change in our personal or professional lives coaching is a powerful tool to aid us in reaching our goal.

Coaching is a way of working with a leader that leaves her more competent and fulfilled, so she can contribute more to her calling.

Adults learn from solving their own problems, and applying this learning to their lives, which is why coaching with a person who desires growth is effective.

Leaders want growth, but they struggle with how to achieve it amidst the hurly burly of normal, busy life.

Christian leaders want to do God’s will in their lives and so fulfill their calling as Peter entreats: “therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (2 Peter 1:10 ESV).

A Christian coach can help a client to reach goals and keep growing with biblical understanding.

Transformation (The Purpose of Coaching)

 Transformation often takes place through significant events that happen in our lives. Christian coaching uses these events, which may be anything from discomfort to pure frustration in the workplace or our relationships.

To face the need for change the client must have freed up energy, and must pay attention to habits and practices needing transformation.

Mary Beth O’Neill says, “Coaches are colleagues to leaders at exactly those times when they may flinch-or fight back, or dig in, or any number of responses.

Coaches bring their unique relationship to the leader as a tool of growth.

The client is the subject and the object of the coaching conversation.

The coach brings skills including the courage to enter into powerful conversations. The coach endures the discomfort of the anxiety the client may feel at the topic in hand, while at the same time empathizing with the client, staying connected to her for the purpose of hearing her fully.

Coaches enable clients to move forward in their performance as a result of the transformation of their hearts.

A new heart generates a new behavior.

As the scriptures say, “the good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good ” (Luke 6:45 ESV).

The power of coaching lies in the heart posture of the Christian coach that is genuinely for the client.

Coaches should also ensure they have the necessary skills to help the client bring about new learning, reflection, realization and insight. Therein lies the power of coaching.

Seeing Gold Mines (The Possibilities in Coaching)

When we do not know what to make of circumstances beyond our control… “many of us are sitting on personal gold mines that a coach can enable us to reclaim for the fulfillment of our calling and destiny”(Joseph Umidi).

Transformation takes place through adversity. The boss we are clashing with, the person we cannot get through to, the colleague who brings out the worst in us- these are relationships that can serve to open our eyes to better ways of relating.

A Christian coach will know how this scripture applies:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV).

The skilled coach, using listening skills, can create moments of connection for the client. The coach uses powerful questions to create conversations where epiphanies may occur.

Coaches ask questions such as:

  • If you had to state a purpose for your life, what would that be?
  • What options do you have for changing things?
  • What bothers you?
  • And what else? Tell me more.

This causes reflection the client might not normally pause to do, and may lead to the awakening of a hunger or a dream long forgotten and then the epiphany moment.

Transformation is something the client must do.

The coach does not rescue the client by taking on the client’s burden; rather the coach strengthens the leadership of the client by encouraging the leader to develop new skills and behaviors.

The Apostle Paul said: “But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load” (Gal 6:4-5 ESV).

Christian coaching follows the biblical pattern of leadership of each one taking full responsibility for his life and leadership.

As a coach can help you get to a goal quicker, so a coach can also draw out of you what is in your heart.

There is great benefit in Christian leaders receiving coaching for continued personal transformation.

Join the conversation on the power of coaching by sharing this with your friends and leaving a comment on the blog.

 

 

Coaching For Transformation

www.alisonward.me
www.alisonward.me

My daughter returned from a trip to a country store with a loaf of artisanal Italian bread baked with thyme and sundried tomatoes. Spread thickly with yellow farm butter it was a feast all on its own.

A well-known coach calls questions the bread and butter tools of a coach, so a coach asking questions is like baking artisanal bread and spreading it thick with farm butter to present to the client in an appetizing manner.

Coaching Christian Women

Stressed, overcommitted, over responsible, and out of control of their time and resources, women in the church are in great need of discipleship coaching.

I see these women regularly trying to balance the finances, balance their lifestyle, balance their work-life, balance their home and family and still have some ‘me’ time all with some discipleship or spiritual transformation thrown in there somewhere too.

A woman benefits from coaching for spiritual transformation, and if she will take the time to enter this accountability relationship, she will discover growth.

I only have to look at Proverbs 31 to see a woman who has balanced her time, her strength and her abilities and is successfully growing from the inside out. King Lemuel says of her, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Prov 31:30, ESV).

In coaching women in the church we need to ask powerful questions, questions that provoke enquiry, make them think deeply about their lives, their motives, their desires, their future, and their spirituality.

Questions in the Scriptures

What is the most powerful question you have ever been asked?

Did it make you stop in your tracks and think more deeply?

What if you had never been asked that question?

God asks deep, penetrating questions because he wants us to think. God’s first question in the Bible to Adam, is, “Where are you?” (Gen 3:9, ESV), which made it impossible for Adam to ignore his sin or continue to hide it.

He had to expose his condition and thus make the move to restoration of relationship with God.

Job begs God for answers and God asks him questions, in fact, the longest list of questions in the Bible is in Job 38 and 39, provoking enquiry about what Job’s belief system is and bringing Job back to the responsibility for his own life.

Wise Coaches

As coaches we believe our clients have the answers to their own lives. These answers may be buried so deep inside; it takes more than a spade to dig down through the layers of soil to find the treasure.

Powerful questions can be like drilling for oil.

As you go down, you will eventually hit the precious stuff!

“You can tell a man is clever by his answers. You can tell a man is wise by his questions” (Naguib Mahfouz).

Wisdom for a coach is refraining from advice giving and moving to powerful, probing questions that provoke enquiry on the part of the client and curiosity on the part of the coach.

I spoke about artisanal bread, because this is baked on a small scale and needs an artisan, a craftsperson to lovingly hand form and bake each loaf. Just so, there is an art to forming questions that make people think, make them stop in their tracks and think deeply.

This is what coaching is all about.

Contact me at hello@alisonward.me for a free half hour session.