"And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." 
– Matthew 6:12
A blog on forgiveness? No thanks. Not interested. It’s about as bad as a post on gratitude, right? Don’t let me lose you yet. Read on, love.
This morning, I encountered God. I had a very real, personal, palpable encounter with my Maker. Now, this isn’t new for me—thank you, God. But I was surprised to be in a room full of hundreds of people with lights, loud music, and commotion when—bam—God’s Spirit filled my being with truth. 
And it stung a bit. It stung so much that I had to sit down, even though I was in the front row and everyone was standing. The truth hurts, so they say. 
This was the truth: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
Here’s the backstory: I was taken advantage of by someone I trusted—a person I thought was ethical, respectful, and had integrity. This individual willfully, knowingly, and continually chose to step on me in order to better herself. This person stole my money, time, and connections to better her position in the world.
I got burned.
After the shock wore off, anger took up residence. I wanted to prosecute to the highest degree. I wanted to make the situation right. I wanted justice. Redemption. Wearing anger like this feels heavy—painful even. It’s kinda like someone threw actual shit at me, and it hit me square in the chest.
I have been taught what to do with resentment. So, I’ve been doing it for six straight months. I get on my knees daily and pray for this human being. 
Pray for the person who persecutes you.
Every day I have prayed for the success of this person, for her well-being,  family, even her joy and freedom of emotional pain. I have daily ended my prayer with, You know my heart is not following suit with my words, so change that, too, Lord. 
Why do we pray for those who persecute us? For freedom.
Being resentful with a person hurts me—not them. I’m the one smelling of and wearing shit—not them. The person who launched the crap my way isn’t thinking about how she hurt me. She isn’t making it right with an apology nor actions. 
Holding emotional space—pain—for what has happened is simply hurting me. Holding onto the shit doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t unwrong her actions. It doesn’t mitigate the hurt. It doesn’t give me my money back. It doesn’t help with sleep. It doesn’t keep it alive in her heart and mind; it only keeps the fire alive in me, which continues to burn like hell. Plus, the smell is just awful! Right? It doesn’t do anything positive at all.
I woke up super early this morning and prayed for this woman. It was still dark outside when I whispered blessings toward her, meaning what I said through tears. 
Then, to my surprise, a couple hours later, after six months of faithful prayer, in a dark church with special-effects lighting, music and chatter, the Holy Spirit came upon me with a knowing presence only He can bring. 
“ we forgive our debtors.
My awesome pastor Brian Carlucci read the Lord’s Prayer over us this morning, saying, “I pray that God will give you a word or a phrase from this prayer, telling you what He wants to speak to you.” He read the “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” part and...boom. Then he read it again over us and said, “I pray for God to give you an emotion to go with your phrase.” Sadness overwhelmed me. He read one last time and this time said, “Now I pray that God would give you an action to go along with the phrase.”
Oh, no.
Not an action, Lord.
I wanted to run out of the room. I knew what the action would be. Somehow, I sat still.
Outward forgiveness.
Forgiveness in action.

I needed to put my months of praying for this person into action in order to be free of my hurt and resentment.
Damn. It.
I trusted, though, that this was for my good. This was for my well-being, for my good. I wanted to be free. I wanted to be free of the heavy and sharp pain I had worn for months. And so, I chose to act in faith. I chose to act out in faith.
What I know is when God speaks to me in a whisper, I can trust His voice will bring me good. Isaiah 55:11 says, "God’s word always produces fruit. It shall accomplish all God wants it to and prosper everywhere God sends it."
I will not doubt what God tells me in the dark when I am in the light of day.
I knew what to do. I immediately left church and headed to the top of my favorite mountain; it’s just my thing. I brought with me two lovers of God—my girls. I shared my story with them on that mountain. I shared my hurt and what the Lord had spoken to me. I asked for their accountability so I could follow through with the action of forgiveness. 
Then I took a big-ass ROCK off that mountain. I chose one that symbolized my heavy heart. I brought it home with me to remind me to follow through.
This morning, I wrote and sent a letter of forgiveness to this person. I wished her well in her future endeavors. I relinquished her of all her debts to me financially and emotionally. 
I am doing this to honor God. I am doing it because I trust God’s word to be true. I am doing this to be free of my own pain. 

And guess what? Just like that, I am.
Thank you, God.


Guest blog written by Dr. Elizabeth Deweese

Dr. Deweese will co-lead the emotional workshops with founder Nonie Rand on our Women's Wellness Retreat this January 2017 in Puerto Vallarta Mexico.

I'm sitting in the dark in a large auditorium filled with a few thousand women and a handful of men.  On stage one woman is interviewing another woman.  I'm leaning forward, elbows on my knees, in anticipation of the wisdom I hope to catch.  And then I hear it: "I don't like to use the word weakness..." It echoed in my brain: I.don' I actually heard a record scratch.  My mind starts spinning.  Did she seriously just say that? Did I hear it wrong? Please tell me I heard it wrong. I look to a friend sitting next to me and she confirms it.  I heard correctly. I cringe. I feel frustrated and sad. I think, "You just communicated that weakness is not okay. UGH!"


As a woman, I have spent years trying to undo lies around weakness. At a very young age I absorbed spoken and unspoken messages that weakness is bad.  Weakness is shameful. Weakness is weak.  Weakness is failure. Big Girls don't cry and Strong Women don't sweat. And for goodness sake, Sweetie, never let your weakness show!  I spent many years hiding, pretending, lying, faking it and trying to convince myself and anyone else that I was "strong".  But I wasn't. And I'm not. Because strong meant impenetrable and stuck in my head and masculine. That kind of strong kept me stunted.  That kind of strong kept me lonely. 


Hiding behind a facade of strength did not produce growth.  I got smarter and had a voracious appetite for knowledge. Hell, I even got a Ph.D., but I wasn't any closer to my deepest desire: to be seen and known and loved regardless. I wasn't growing because growth requires risk and risk assumes the possibility of weakness being exposed.  It was only when I got sick and tired of being sick of tired that I tried something different.  I got back into therapy, I went on spiritual retreats, I went on mindfulness retreats, I went to trainings, I kept in close contact with my dearest friend, and I accepted an invitation into a small group of women who wanted to grow. All I had to do was show up. 


On my journey I uncovered an ancient truth: True strength is found in weakness.  Weakness births strength. Don't believe it? Guess what happened every single time I exposed my weakness with women and men who had earned the right to hear my story. I was seen. Held. Known. Loved. Celebrated. Witnessed. My hard, defended exterior started fading. I didn't need that armor anymore. I was healing old wounds and gaining new truths.  


Rejecting our weakness or trying to maneuver around our weakness doesn't work.  It doesn't get us closer to ourselves and to wholeness.  Naming weakness, exposing weakness, brings empowerment, health, and wholeness. 


I want to be a woman who embraces the word weakness. I want to be a woman who isn't afraid to talk about weaknesses. I still resist exposing weakness sometimes.  It's still hard for me.  But I love living a life that is more whole and connected and integrated.  And by the way, I now cry. And sweat. 


"My strength and my weakness are twins in the same womb." - Marge Piercy


2 Corinthians 12:9 & 10b - "My strength is made perfect in weakness. For when I am weak, then I am strong."


"Believe in yourself, our strength grows out of our weakness." - Ralph Waldo Emerson


Curb Appeal

Focusing on your curb appeal may have a “bad rap,” but check out this perspective tonight to find new gratitude. Turn on the lights of your home, especially any lamps you may have. It doesn’t matter if you're in an apartment, a duplex, or a crazy beautiful mansion. Turn the light on, then go outside.

Walk around your home and look through any available windows from a distance. Doesn’t it cast a new “light” on your perspective? I dare you to walk to the neighbors yard, sit down on their front stoop, and check out your curb appeal. In the warm glow of the lights, you will find gratitude for what matters most: the loved ones nestled in the house, a roof over your head, the walls that protect you from the elements, food in your fridge, a place to lay your head and find rest. Looking at your life from the outside in, cast in this warm glow, shines in gratitude and hope that was a stone’s throw away.

Do this exercise a few nights in a row and see — just see — if your perspective doesn’t change during daylight hours.

I discovered this practice when I got to move into my dream home on a small piece of country. I was blown away to get to live in this “Nonie house”- it was just so me- I had to walk the property at dusk each night and praise God for this dream come true! Life happens. Things change. 

When we lost that "Nonie home,” we added insult to injury by moving to my least favorite place, the noisy, busy city! I felt I would never again feel the joy I had in that country house. 

Gratitude is a practice. It is cultivated like a crop.

I choose gratitude, even in the hard times.

I walked across the alley of our new city home, stood by the rat infested/ stinky dumpster and practiced my curb-appeal exercise nightly. I was astonished to discover that the outside-looking-in perspective still brought incredible gratitude. 

I found joy seeing my precious children laughing as they play cards. The pile of dirty dishes by the sink, the filthy shoes near the door,  even the mess of toys and baskets of laundry look like gratitude from outside the window pane. We have so much to be thankful for, even in the mess of life. 

Go and find some curb appeal tonight. You may find you’re grateful for way more than you expected.

Written by Nonie Rand