Reading Dr. Wayne Dyer's book, Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling, has been a joyfully challenging experience for me. Joyful in that it opens new doors and encourages me to hope and grow. Challenging for the very same reasons. Personal growth and development is exhilarating, but also ponderous at times, demanding at still others. Basically, it's not for the faint hearted or easily frightened. What I love best about Dr. Dyer's work, and particularly this book, is that it acknowledges all of our human frailties and frustrations and still gently guides us to make changes in our lives that are graceful, transforming and powerful. What Dr. Dyer does is withdraw the need to use judgment as a weapon against ourselves and each other in even its most minimal forms. Spending time considering a portion of of Inspiration dealing with changing our awareness of our own personal history really made me focus on how much appreciating ourselves connects to our ability to choose forgiveness and love throughout our lives.

According to Dr. Dyer, reevaluating our personal history means accepting that the past is done, and we can choose to continue to blame ourselves and feel ashamed for it or be grateful for all that it has taught us about ourselves. Without each of our experiences we would not be who we are today. Who we are, each of us, is created in God's image, and that is pretty wonderful He has also said that true nobility is not about being better than someone else, its about being better than we used to be. Approaching ourselves kindly and gently allows for us to become better at being now, rather than better at shaming ourselves for what has been. Valuing all that has brought us to this moment in time welcomes us to a new level of gratitude for life as a whole and those who share life with us. If we can learn to be grateful for who and what we are, as well as who and what each person around us is, we have a better chance at being kind, gentle, loving and forgiving as a matter of course instead of only when we can no longer bear the burden that being unkind, harsh, hateful and unforgiving becomes. Becoming more like God, reflecting more of God's image as a continually developing routine lightens that burden. Perhaps that is why Jesus referred to his burden and yoke as being light.

Clearly, forgiveness is something we struggle with in our culture. We here in the United States are raised on the twin formulas that power and control are the goals to strive for. Whoever has the most of both is declared the winner, the best, the one to beat. Forgiveness doesn't enter into the mix. Forgiveness is weak, foolish, naive, or so we would be led to believe. It is interesting, then, to look at what power forgiveness itself holds for both the giver and the receiver. The Oxford Dictionary defines forgiveness as ceasing to be angry or resentful toward another. To make a conscious choice not to hold onto those kinds of feelings or direct them at another human being exhibits great courage and humble strength. It is much easier to keep old emotional wounds open than extend or accept forgiveness and allow relationships to begin healing.

But what is most wonderful about forgiveness is that it is always open to us to choose and we can keep practicing it. Forgiveness and the opportunity to extend or receive it are not once and done deals. We can always keep trying to get it right, keep offering it and receiving it when it is offered to us, and in so doing become better and better at it. When asked how many times we should forgive each other, Jesus said seventy times seven was the standard. While some take this literally, I hear Jesus' voice saying we can forgive ourselves and each other as often as necessary and as often as possible. Through practicing forgiveness we become better than we were, and we are able to more fully embody loving God, each other and ourselves.

Author's Bio: 

The Rev. Cory L. Kemp, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay with a double major in Communication and the Arts and Social Change and Development and a minor in Women's Studies, was ordained into the ministry of the Moravian Church in North America after completing her Master of Divinity degree studies through Moravian Theological Seminary. Over twenty-five years of experience in individual and community ministries gives Rev. Kemp an informed perception about faith, its implications and struggles in everyday life. Rev. Kemp focuses her work on helping people understand their faith and how faith can become transformational in their lives. Bring authentic, meaningful faith into your daily life by visiting