A: I think your question is best answered with a pastoral perspective. I asked a Baptist minister friend to give his feedback. Here it is.
“Forgiveness from God, which should then result in forgiveness toward others, is at the very center of the Christian life and Christian experience.
God actively seeks to forgive His human creation — that is why He sent Jesus to die on our behalf and to take upon Himself the judgment that each one of us deserves. (Romans 5:8)
But God is perfect, and we are not…so for us, showing true forgiveness toward others — and also toward ourselves — is something that we find to be extremely difficult.
At the conclusion of what we refer to as The Model Prayer, or The Lord’s Prayer, in Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus speaks very plainly about forgiveness, ‘For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.’ ‘But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.’ (New King James Bible)
Being forgiving and being judgmental are opposites. The way to get rid of those negative and critical thoughts is to practice ongoing forgiveness, toward others — and toward yourself.”
As to my advice, I recommend that you consider counseling. A therapist can teach you step-by-step ways to redirect your thought patterns. Right now, your head is so crowded with detritus that there’s no room for gratitude — and therefore, joy. But there can be.
Another suggestion: Devote more time each day to prayer and meditation. When you catch yourself dwelling on the negative, stop and hand it over to God. Empty your mind, and just listen to the quiet.
You’ll be encouraged and liberated by what you’ll hear. Sustain this daily practice even if it takes a good while before you can attain stillness. It rarely happens right away, but the payoff is worth it.
Q: I read your utterly ridiculous rant against using cell phones and computer tablets. In case you have not noticed, technology has brought a world to our fingertips, and there’s nothing wrong with it. I don’t know why you are so against something that has moved society forward. What do you have to say to that?
A: Clearly, technology has brought countless benefits. But I was addressing the effects of our chronic overuse of it. I’ll break it down for you.
As TV Icon Mister Rogers said, “Deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex.” Our society has become increasingly shallow and complicated. Excessive interaction with technology is a major reason.
The important things in life are deep and simple, but the dominant culture is not. We are lacking in elemental things. That’s why it makes us giddy when we get our hands in the dirt; brush a horse; inhale the aroma of a magnolia blossom; plunk our feet in a stream; listen to birdsong; or gather around a fire. These kinds of experiences bring us back to ourselves and fill us back up. Too much time with technology depletes us.
Q: Why are you so against cell phones? You’ve covered this subject several times already in your columns, in case you didn’t think anyone would notice. I assume you’re trying to be some sort of anti-cell phone guru or something.
A: First of all, thank you for reading and noticing recurrent themes. Secondly, assumptions are like glutei maximi: Everyone has them, and both produce the same “output.” If you’re unsure of what that means, feel free to Google it on your iPhone.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lauretta Hannon, a resident of Powder Springs, is the bestselling author of The Cracker Queen — A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life and a keynote speaker. Southern Living has named her “the funniest woman in Georgia.” See more at thecrackerqueen.com.