March 1st — 11th Email
Hard-heartedness is another form of bondage. Carrying around a steady stream of resentment and anger is a spiritual prison cell. That is part of the reason that Jesus commanded us as his followers to practice forgiveness – that we might step forth from the prison cell.
It is a worthy intention for Lent to become less hard-hearted.
Sometimes we “take” offence more than we were “given” offence. In such cases, we need to recognize the harm caused to ourselves and others by our pride and humble ourselves.
But sometimes the harm that has been done to us by others is very real and it is no easy thing for us to forgive and soften our hearts.
A place to start would be to simply try to be aware during the season of Lent of every time our heart tightens. The wound to our spirit usually registers as tension or rigidity in our body. At such moments, it can be helpful to take several deep breaths and then as we slowly exhale express the intention in our minds that we are releasing the tension in our bodies with our breaths.
In the normal course of our lives when the feeling of having been hurt by another arises try and pay attention to the hard-hearted thoughts that can follow close at hand. Often these come in the form of fantasies of revenge. When we become aware of such thoughts, take the several deep breaths and try as difficult as it may be to pray for the person you feel wronged by.
It’s not easy, and it requires perseverance but it is precisely what Jesus commanded us to do. It is the pathway of deliverance from the prison cell of a hardened heart.