I have learned three keys to staying young and free for as long as I live. They are not rocket science, however they are hard to truly understand.
First, keep forgiving. The only person that unforgiveness hurts is you. Sure, it’s difficult to let go of resentment towards someone who has hurt you, however unforgiveness causes stress and unhappiness that eventually creeps into relationships with other people. When you chose to forgive, you find freedom. If you have bitterness in your heart, then here’s what to do:
- Assume responsibility for your unforgiving spirit. The other person is responsible for your pain, but you are responsible for harboring bitterness.
- Confess honestly. It’s ok to admit you’re bitter. It’s ok to want justice. But an unforgiving spirit will return unless you can let go of your anger.
- Pray for the perpetrator. Ask God to release you from the prison of bitterness. This is the best way to break the hold it has on you.
- Express gratitude that you have, indeed, forgiven. Such an attitude of gratitude helps to resist the temptation to rehash the past.
Second, keep learning. Treat every opportunity to forgive as an opportunity to learn and grow. In fact, there is no growth without tension. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is a natural law so use it to your advantage. Learning is the perpetual process of planting seeds that will germinate and bear fruit. Never stop planting seeds. The day you stop planting is the day you stop learning.
Lastly, keep laboring. Even when you choose to retire from your career, you should never stop working. This is why I’m a big fan of treating a career as a ministry, which means serving others in God’s name. This is why I’m a life coach. Whatever your age, look for opportunities to serve others. Understand your purpose, seek clarity for your calling, identify a big dream and transform your career into a ministry. You’ll stay young at heart for all of your days.
If you can truly understand these concepts, then you’ll have a new lease on life. You’ll understand that freedom is an opportunity to serve one another through love. This is what it means to be a neighbor. This kind of love means surrendering our selfish motives, but that doesn’t mean we lose freedom. In fact, the opposite is true. We’re liberated to do exactly what God has called us to do.
Keep forgiving. Keep learning. Keep laboring.