Learning Treasures of Hope

Because one of my core values is life-long learning, I am always reading and scouting out new resources. As a writer, I yearn to pen unique words or phrases that leave my readers with their own a-ha moments, something to think about all day, some treasure that leaves a taste of hope in their lives.

Recently, I added three new treasures to my learning bank, so I wanted to share them with you.Grace quote

Treasure 1: In her new book, “Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace” Anne Lamott writes, “They say we are punished not for the sin but by the sin.”

Even when we know we are forgiven, natural consequences still attach like magnets to iron.

If you hammer a nail into wood and then take the nail out, a hole marks the spot where the nail was hammered. It doesn’t matter how many times you are forgiven for hammering that nail, it will still leave a mark.

I think we need to worry less about how God will punish us and more about how we can cause our own defeat by the wrong choices we make.

Treasure 2: Gerald May wrote, “Grace threatens all our normalities.”

Now isn’t that the grandest truth?

Just when we feel the most soul-grunge because we’ve committed one of the seven deadly sins and actually enjoyed it, God comes along and says, “Oh by the way, you’re forgiven.”

When we sin again because we’re stupid and can’t seem to learn from our mistakes, we go to God in penitence and cry, “I did it again. I’m so sorry.”

And God says, “You did what again?”

His grace breaks down all the normal ways we deal with repentance and retribution. Grace transcends omniscience, so God chooses to forget and says, “It’s okay, kiddo. I love you. My Son already took care of this.”

I don’t think I’ll truly understand grace until I graduate to heaven.

Treasure 3: Recently, the Samaritan Woman taught me an important truth. Even though I’ve read her story hundreds of times in John chapter four and loved how Jesus went out of his way to dialog with her, something really struck me this time.

Jesus treated her with respect in spite of the fact that she lived a rather nontraditional life. Her past included a handful of men that she married or lived with, probably because she had to survive.

But Jesus did not judge her. He appreciated her authenticity and answered her challenging questions. He revealed his true mission as the Messiah to this woman who wasn’t even allowed to draw water with the other “good” people in town.

Then what did she do? She ran back into the village and evangelized the same people who had rejected her. She brought them to the source of grace and showed everyone that she had more character than those who followed the laws of culture and religion.

Through her courageous behavior, the Samaritan Woman showed transparent forgiveness.

You see, when we meet Jesus and talk face to face with the man who saves us from our grungey selves, it doesn’t really matter how others treat us.

We just want them to meet him, too.

©2015 RJ Thesman – author of the Reverend G books – http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Hope Finds the Right Apology

Maybe the reason we’re stuck within this national tragedy is because we haven’t yet found the right apology.

In their book, “The Five Languages of Apology,” Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas explore the differences between various apologies. Sometimes “I’m sorry” just isn’t enough because each of us comes to forgiveness via a different perspective.5 languages of apology

Express Regret is the type of apology we usually hear – when someone has done something wrong and says, “I’m sorry.” But often, that just isn’t enough.

A prime example was my three-year-old sister. We were fighting one day and although I was the older sibling, she whacked me over the head. My mother forced her to apologize, but all my sister could muster was, “I’m torry, tupid.” Not exactly a genuine apology.

Sometimes expressing regret is just too simple and carries with it no remorse for the wrong done. Therefore, it means nothing.

Accept Responsibility: This type of apology admits “I was wrong” and genuinely accepts all responsibility for the failure. No excuses given. No “but this is why I did it.” Just a simple admittance of guilt.

Make Restitution: Restitution shows a strong effort to make amends and right the wrong. It asks the question, “How can I make this right? What can I do to pay you back or to help you somehow forgive me?”

This is the type of apology Prison Fellowship works to initiate. Those who are incarcerated for their crimes work to pay back those they have wronged. As much as possible, they make a valiant effort to right the wrong.

Genuinely Repent: My toddler sister could not genuinely repent, because she wasn’t truly sorry. If given a chance, she would have thwacked me again. When a person repents, they desire to modify their behavior. They make a dedicated plan for change and take action steps toward that change.

This is not an immediate fix. It takes time and concentrated endeavors. It often involves trial and error to finally get it right – to break a stronghold, to change an addictive behavior, to make laws that are fair to everyone.

Request Forgiveness: This deeper type of apology goes beyond the easy “I’m sorry” as it asks for forgiveness and names the specific wrong that has been done. For example: “Please forgive me for dishonoring our friendship and betraying your confidence.” This is a combination of “I’m sorry” plus accepting responsibility and the accompanying consequences.

Most of us respond to at least one and maybe two apology languages. The tricky part is figuring out which one to initiate when we have committed a wrong.

The best way to do that is to be honest with each other and express the truth. Tell each other what we need to hear and the changes we need to see in order to truly forgive.

Using the right apology, even on a national level, seems like a step in the right direction.

©2014 RJ Thesman – author of the Reverend G books – http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh