Choosing by author Jeannie Bruenning

You know those times that it feels as if a dark heavy cloud has fallen around you and nothing makes sense? Good seems to be losing ground and all the crazies are finding ways to infiltrate every open crevasse? It’s like a thick fog has fallen and clouded everyone’s vision.

I know those times. Unfortunately, I know them well. It’s was during one of those dark times I yell out to God, what do I do now?

I was quickly reminded of an Old Testament Bible story where the Israelite army was at war in a valley and Moses watched from a hilltop. In the story, the Israelite army grew stronger when Moses’s hands were raised and when they weren’t, they began to lose the battle.

I heard this story many times as a kid. And even as a kid there was something odd about it. First of all, why was Moses sitting on a hilltop when his army was in a battle? Secondly, what’s so important about raising his hands? Recently I began to ask, what was he doing?

 I had always assumed Moses was pleading with God. Bagging for God to make it right, to fix it, to force someone to change. But when people are pleading they usually aren’t on their knees with hands raised. Pleaders stand with fists flailing in the air, or face down, spread-eagle pounding the ground.

Being on your knees with hands raised is typically done when you are in awe of the beauty of the world. It is the position of someone who is overcome with so much lovethat you can’t help but embrace it with open arms. When all one can do is look to the sky, overflowing with gratitude and thankfulness. It is a pose of surrender.

Is that what Moses was doing?

In the midst of a battle, he, the leader of the army (and nation) was filled with gratitude.

When I began writing what I thought was this light-hearted little blog, I felt I couldn’t help but be grateful for everything in my life. I had figured it out! I was the queen of gratitude. It only took one text message; a disappointing and unthinkable response and that thick dark fog fell. I wasn’t grateful. I wasn’t even going to pretend. I was disappointed. I was angry. I was heart-broken, and my raised hands turned into fists. How? God, why don’t you do something? Is that really who you are? Why is this OK? Why don’t you fix this? I was far from grateful and nowhere near thankful.

That fog hung around for a few days. Happy songs would pop into my head and I’d quickly turn them off. Thoughts that I could change my attitude would knock at the door but I wasn’t home. How can I be happy when others are suffering? Why should I carry the joyful banner when others are hurting?

Everything in our life is a choice. We choose to be happy or we choose to be angry. We choose to listen or ignore. We choose to love or to hate. It’s all us. It’s all within our power.

In the story of Moses we are told that Moses grew tired and couldn’t physically keep his arms raised, this is when his friends came along, help up his arms and supported him.

Maybe that’s the reason we need to always choose love, happiness, joy, gratefulness and forgiveness. Maybe those who are currently fighting the battles in the valley of life need our quiet support. Maybe our gratefulness offers them strength in ways we can’t see. Like a super power, we have the ability to burn through the heavy fog and bring clarity and strength from a distance.

Feeling or Fact

I heard him say, “I just can’t forgive myself. I feel so guilty…”

I’ve heard others say this very thing but on that day his words hit me in an odd way. What would cause someone to not accept forgiveness? Why would anyone want to hold on to the past that badly?

“I feel guilty…” I played it over and over. Then it dawned on me, maybe guilt isn’t an emotion. Maybe it’s just a simple fact.

There are two reason why we feel guilty. The first is that we are super sensitive, insecure, and feel like everything that goes wrong in the world, in our lives, and in the lives the people around us must be our fault. We have caused all the evil, bad luck, and devastation in the world and are resigned to carrying the guilt and responsibility until the day we die. To those I simply ask, “How’s that working for you?”

The second reason we feel guilty is that we are. We did something – that cause something – thus we are guilty. In this case, guilt isn’t an emotion, it’s a fact. We are guilty!

This should not be alarming to anyone since we are all guilty of something. Even God says we are all guilty. So why do we pretend we aren’t? Why do we prefer making this fact into a feeling and carry it through life with us?

Once we flip the switch from feeling guilty to admitting that our guilt as a fact, we are free to accept forgiveness. Whether that’s God’s forgiveness, the forgiveness of another, or forgiving ourselves. It can only be accepted when we admit we were wrong.

Guilt is a fact, not a feeling.

I’m quite sure a jury never came to the conclusion that the defendant felt guilty.


Check out my new project: Living Unstuck; finding your joy!