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by Matthew Kelly
Everybody Needs to Forgive Somebody
by Father Mike Schmitz
Is God calling you to live more generously? I have never asked this question and heard no as the answer. Every time I ponder this question, God challenges me to a greater level of generosity—not because he wants me to give all my time, talent, and treasure away to others, but because he wants me to live a free and happy life. The happiest people I know are the most generous people I know, and they seem free from the things of this world in a way that is to be admired.
We are all invited to that happiness, and generosity is the path that leads us there. But the problem is, life gets in the way. The demands on our time, energy, and finances are enormous.
If we are to grow in generosity, it needs to be an intentional effort. We are not going to just stumble upon greater generosity. We can all do something to be a little more generous. Here are 7 simple ways you can become a more generous person.
Every time you give to someone, challenge yourself to be a little more generous. If you’re about to write a check for $20, make it $25. If you’re going to donate a coat, give away a scarf, too. If you want to buy a homeless person a cup of coffee, add a sandwich.
We cannot do everything, but that doesn’t mean we should do nothing. Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do. And what we can do, all of us, is look for small ways to be generous with the people around us whom we encounter every day.
Generosity is about much more than giving away money or material goods. Being generous is not just something that we do; it becomes a part of who we are. By intentionally practicing regular acts of giving and sharing, you will indeed become a more generous person—and be happier for it. May God bless us all with an eagerness to live generously.
Forgiveness is the most powerful word in the English language.
— From “Everybody Needs to Forgive Somebody” by Dr. Allen Hunt
The Weight Was Not Only Holding Me Back, It Was Breaking My Back
Locked out. I was just ten years old, away at baseball camp for the first time in my life. I was the youngest participant in the camp at Clemson University, and on my own for the first time in my short life. So when I found myself locked out of my room, I had no idea what to do. My roommate was gone, not that he would have done much. When he found out about my predicament later, he did not care to help provide a solution.
So there I stood in the hallway, a ten-year-old boy wrapped in a towel, trying to return from the shower. Alone, outside the dorm room containing all my worldly possessions, including my prized baseball glove, cleats, and hat, all of which I needed quickly in order to join the other boys on the field.
As a ten-year-old, a state away from Mom and Dad for the first time, I was unnerved by the situation. Humiliated and embarrassed, I frantically went door-to-door in the hall trying to find someone who could help me as I stood hopelessly on the other side of a door that could lead me to where I wanted to be. After much searching, I located a coach who could at least give me clothes and gear to use that day until we found a solution, even if he could not provide a key.
The situation ultimately worked out, but the staff learned from my predicament that little boys are likely to lose keys. When we returned to camp the next summer, all keys were handed out on lanyards so that each boy could wear his key around his neck. That way, every camper held the key and would not find himself locked away from his most valuable belongings or from his dorm room home. I loved that lanyard! It was liberating to know you carried the key with you at all times.
As you will soon discover, Millie made an awful mistake and desperately wanted to come home. But she did not have the key. Peter desperately needed a new path forward out of his prison of failures. But to access that path, he needed a key, something that he did not realize he could possess.
We grow comfortable in the prison cell of our own wounds, mistakes, or failures. But the right key unlocks the closed door. As the key turns the catch or bolt to unlock, it opens the way to a new path.
Perhaps inspired by Psalm 90, I like to call God “home.” That is an old Jewish name for God. Home. After all, he is our dwelling place. He is our home. You and I were made by him and for him. Home.
You will only really ever feel at home when you are in and with him. Most of us are looking to go home. When we are honest, way down deep, we know we are not exactly where we need to be. We feel a little out of place in this world. We know God has more in store and in mind for us, but we do not know how to get there. We think about it. We pray about it. We may even work at it, but we often fail to make any progress toward the home that God has created for us.
That is because we fail to realize that we carry the key. That key is forgiveness. And through faith in Jesus Christ, we are carrying that key with us all the time. Too often, our spiritual lives are blocked and our relationship with God impeded by the weight of our past failures, mistakes, and disappointments, or by the pain we have endured at the hands of others or even caused others. And somehow we are not able to let go of that weight and pain in order to move forward. We are locked in a prison cell of our past and the wounds we have accumulated.
Forgiveness is hard. Perhaps that is why it is underrated. You and I find forgiveness hard because we are stubborn. Rather than stepping out to healing, we often prefer to sit and feed off our wounds because they are familiar and comfortable. It is easier to do nothing. Maybe we struggle with forgiveness because we are lazy or because we are afraid. But understand this: Forgiveness will transform you and your relationships once you release its power into your life. You will find a new and higher level of living and of relationships. Forgiveness is the most powerful word in the English language.
I know because I come from a long line of grudge holders. In my family, we have a remarkable ability to remember every wrong ever done to us, when it was done, and by whom. We keep an internal list of all the wrongs, a spiritual scorecard to be carried around in our minds at all times. And we occasionally like to trot out that list and chew on it a little longer, as if that will satisfy our souls or make us feel more right.
Grudge holding is not one of our most attractive traits. For years, I carried around with me all the people who had hurt me or disappointed me, like a wheelbarrow full of grudges, resentments, and wrongs to be righted. In fact, I know a man who carries a duffel bag filled with notebooks that contain all the wrongs ever done to him. He has each wrong carefully detailed and organized so he can remember them all and share them with anyone who asks. He carries this duffel bag with him everywhere he goes, even when he leaves work and goes to lunch. Those wrongs and those hurts are always with him. Grudge holding gets heavy.
Like this man’s duffel bag, my wheelbarrow of grudges went with me everywhere I went, as if I were some kind of supernatural scorekeeper who could track all the wrongs done to me and remember them in case they were needed at a moment’s notice. Hours were spent punishing people in my mind, as if that were somehow producing good fruit. Over time, as that list got longer and longer (meanwhile, by the way, I failed ever to notice the harm and hurt I had caused others because I was too preoccupied with the harm done to me), the weight became too great, so great that it was no longer able to be carried. I needed a full-time job just to keep up with all the hurts I was feeling and remembering. The weight was not only holding me back; it was breaking my back.
That is when I was forced to find the key. A key to let me out of the prison cell of past hurt and wrongs so that I could live in the present and move toward the future. I discovered that the key is forgiveness.
Once found, forgiveness frees. It liberates you from feverishly keeping score and remembering wrongs. It propels you into a new, higher way of living. A life of grace. A life of second chances. A life of seeing the possibilities for people and yourself rather than being debilitated in the swampy muck of what has been. A life in which perfectionism is replaced with joy. A life in which you do not have to carry other people’s wrongs or be trapped in the prison of your own.
In the years since, I have become a student of forgiveness, discovering and focusing on people who surpass me in this key that helps us unlock our way home, the key that opens the path to becoming the-best-version-of-yourself.
Thus, this little book of forgiveness shares twelve real stories of forgiveness from twelve people who have inspired me and who I hope will inspire you. At times, I have changed their names or circumstances to preserve their identities. These twelve real-life examples reveal how God forgives you, how you can learn to forgive someone else, and how you can learn to forgive yourself. My goal is to not only inspire you to forgiveness, but also teach you how to experience its power in your own life. My prayer is that these stories will do just that for you. Because everybody needs to forgive somebody.
At the end of each chapter, you will find two questions for discussion to help you grow in and experience forgiveness. You will also find a recommended simple step to take after reading each chapter to help you grow one step toward becoming the-best-version-of-yourself. Forgiveness provides the key to your journey home.
While Fr. Bob is away on pilgrimage, we’ll feature inspiring videos and articles that share the genius of Catholicism.
Recently I made a fairly large contribution to Dynamic Catholic and pledged my support for another four years with this same amount. The inspiration came straight from the Holy Spirit.
I have been praying to the Holy Spirit for about seven years now, asking, “Holy Spirit, please tell me who you want us to give our money to.” I have learned to be patient in waiting for a response from our Lord, and have also strained to listen in silence. Year after year went by . . . and nothing.
In January I received a letter from Dynamic Catholic thanking us for our small monthly donation to The Ambassador’s Club and stating all the wonderful things Dynamic Catholic is doing to build up our faith through books, programs, speaking engagements, online inspirations, etc.
As I was reading the note (simple black and white letters on a page), it immediately became apparent to me how Dynamic Catholic was prayerfully using the gifts of the Holy Spirit and thus receiving the fruits of the Holy Spirit [“by their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:16)]. Millions, yes millions, of people have been touched by Dynamic Catholic’s work.
And then, the Holy Spirit spoke in my heart and said, “This is who I want you to give your money to.”
I knew immediately this was the answer to the prayer I had been praying for years! Within minutes I wrote a letter offering our contribution to this organization.
Beginning with the book Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly, I was hooked, and I knew there was something powerful going on at Dynamic Catholic. Here’s the thing: If you even pledge $10 a month to become an Ambassador to support Dynamic Catholic’s work, you will receive free books (to keep or share), free programs, offers for free online inspirations during Lent and Advent, spiritual support and prayers, and much more. Are they keeping the money they receive from every donation? No, they are turning it around and offering it back to God for his work on earth. I have seen with my own eyes the “multiplication of the loaves and fishes” here. We give in love to the Lord and he blesses these gifts tenfold, abundantly. This is what is happening with Dynamic Catholic. By an affirmation from the Holy Spirit, I know that they are real, truthful, powerful, and loyal to the teachings of our faith in the Church that Jesus instituted on earth. What a blessing!
God does answer prayers in his own time. Sometimes we have to wait patiently and attentively so as not to jump ahead of the inspiration from the Holy Spirit, for when it comes, it is pure, direct, and life-giving.
May God continue to bless Dynamic Catholic abundantly as they spread the beautiful message of the Good News.
Want to share your story? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Making time for each other isn’t that difficult if you think about how to anchor the time around already established routines at home.
Life is short, and the holidays fly by. Don’t waste this time texting your friends about how crazy your family is making you (even if it’s true). Do your best to be present to them, seek to understand and to love.
Waking up early is a war. It is a battle against the self. You are your enemy. And there is only one way to win the war: Discipline.
When you choose to be the-best-version-of-yourself, when you exercise virtue and strength of character, you impact the world more than you will ever know.