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Posts Categorized: Threads of Life

The Cost of Resentment: Becoming a Victim

woman looking resentful with man in background

When we have suffered injustices, especially in our personal relationships, it is hard to let go and forgive. We struggle with our desire to get retribution or justice versus letting go. Retribution or payback seems so necessary.

Therapists often hear about egregious events that people have endured. Some started early in their childhood. Unprocessed, they keep injecting themselves into our lives and color our attempts at happiness.

In this article, I share one more story from a therapy session that might help you understand the cost of hanging onto resentment.

7 ways to Make Forgiveness a Gift, Rather Than an Obligation

7 ways we can make forgiveness a gift rather than an obligation

Jesus said, “Forgive seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22). We take it as a moral imperative.

But it isn’t just Jesus who tells us how important forgiveness is; science confirms it as well. In fact, not to forgive is putting a slow death sentence on ourselves,as the theologian Frederick Buechner so aptly describes.

Most of us deal with the sins and transgressions of others in the moment. We get mad, pull away, and then make up and go on. When we are the transgressors, we do the same. With minor goofs and slip-ups, we feel bad in the moment, apologize, and then continue with life.

The Unwanted Package: An Allegory

young woman carrying heavy bag and walking on path

Once upon a time, a package was delivered to a young woman. When she opened it, her eyes blazed, and she became very angry.

Although infuriated over receiving this parcel, she nonetheless took it with her wherever she went. Soon other packages arrived, and she had to get a larger bag to put them in so she could continue to carry them with her.

Every morning, she dutifully picked up her bag, which was growing heavier and heavier. She took it with her on the bus to work and when she met with the girls for coffee or a glass of wine.

It went with her to family gatherings and remained on her back as she fixed meals and adjusted her load to make the beds and do the laundry.

The Last of Human Freedoms: The Ability to Choose Our Attitude

feet wearing red shoes with arrows pointing different directions

“What alone is ‘the last of human freedoms’ – is the ability to ‘choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.” -Victor Frankl

Victor Frankl was a psychiatrist and a Jew who lived during the Nazi regime in Germany. He, along with his entire family, was sent to Nazi concentration camps. He ended up in Auschwitz, one of the most dreaded WWII camps.

Except for his sister and himself, his entire family perished in one of those sites. Every possession was taken from them, and the Jews who weren’t shot or sent to the gas chamber endured years of unspeakable horror.

Words to Encourage When Life Dumps Its Worst on You

knight in armor in front of castle

Psalm 18 begins: “I love you, God – you make me strong. God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight. My God – the high crag where I run for dear life, hiding behind the boulders, safe in the granite hideout.” (The Message)

When everything around us seems to be crashing and we think nothing else could possibly happen, it invariably does.

Problems have a domino effect. One problem creates another and so on. At such times, we reach out to friends for help and support and turn to God for encouragement and hope.

“Mind the Gap”: Overcoming Obstacles and Distorted Beliefs

In London’s underground stations you hear a mechanized voice say, “Mind the Gap,” as you prepare to board a tube train.

That “gap” between platform and train is usually quite small and as a tourist, after the novelty wears off, you take for granted the need to watch your step and the recording simply becomes one of those endearing facets of the London experience.

Neil Gaiman, in his book, Neverwhere, artfully creates a more sinister reason for “minding the gap” in his fantasy story about London above ground and the London below.

Seagulls on the Wind: How Contemplation Can Expand and Reframe Our Circumstances

seagulls flying above the ocean

My thoughts and feelings ebb and flow like the tides of the ocean. I close my eyes and pictures from the past flood my mind.

Seagulls wheel and soar above the ocean waves. On the sandy beaches below, patterns and ridges are being shaped and molded by incoming tides. Sea grasses dance in the wind at the ocean’s edge, weaving shadows of beauty and grace on endless sand. The sun’s kisses on the tips of waves turn them into sparkling diamonds that dazzle the eye.

Laughter is a Lifestyle: 5 Ways to Make Humor Part of Your Life

Laughter is a Lifestyle: 5 Ways to Make Humor Part of Your Life | focuswithmarlene.com

As soap is to the body, so laughter is to the soul.

— Jewish Proverb

Laughter is not a once-in-a while event – it is a lifestyle – a way to look at life.

Laughter allows you to see the good in the midst of our troubles. It helps you move through difficult times. It allows you to focus on things to be thankful for.

Laughter and humor take the edge off any crisis or adversity you are facing. It allows you to see a bigger picture.

Humor: My Teachable Moment

Humor: My Teachable Moment | focuswithmarlene.com

At any moment in time, things can happen that will disrupt our day. But we can learn valuable insights during such times. Disruptions can become profound teachable moments. Such an event occurred to me.

I was washing clothes, preparing for our family to leave the following day on a camping trip. The water flow going into my washing machine was exceedingly slow. I had been improvising by attaching a hose from my laundry tub faucet to my washing machine to fill it.

When the phone rang in our office, I didn’t bother to shut off the faucet, thinking I would only be a minute.

Olympic Gold: The Heart of a Champion

Olympic Gold: The Heart of a Champion | focuswithmarlene.com

As I listened to commentators reveal background stories about athletes competing in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC, I was reminded of how many major setbacks and obstacles these men and women overcame in order to compete for an Olympic gold medal.

After spending most of their lives developing and perfecting their skill, major injuries or other overwhelming tragedies could require them to start all over again. And then, after all their hard work, their dream for gold might be replaced by a bronze or silver, or even more heartbreaking, to not even make it into the finals, oftentimes measured by a thousandth of a second or a fraction of a point.