Monday, September 21, 2015

What I Learned This Summer, Part 4 (and Battle of the Band Results)

I've got results from Battle of the Bands. The song was "I'm On Fire" and the contenders were DuTonc and Crozet. This battle was different for me because Bryan submitted the music. Ergo, I didn't have any partiality one way or the other for these two versions. Many of you voted Crozet because it sounded more 80s and/or closer to the Springsteen original. I know that it was less jarring when you're used to hearing the Springsteen version than the techno/upbeat version by DuTonc. And many of you said that.

Here's the odd thing for me. On first listen, I preferred the Crozet version for all of the reasons you stated above. BUT, I had to listen to it several more times. In the listening, I began to appreciate DuTonc more and more. There cover is different. And good. And I really began to like it. In fact, I learned to like it so much that I now prefer it over Crozet (which I liked best after only one listen). So, my vote (to my own shock) goes to DuTonc.

In the end, it looked like this:

DuTonc: 8 (including my vote)
Crozet: 13

PART 4 of 4:

The person I hurt most was me, but...

Before I finish that sentence, I want to tell you one more thing I've been learning since last November. That is when I joined a Bible Study to read the entire Bible. (Right now we're in Romans.) If you've read the Bible front to back and found nothing disturbing in there, I'm going to suggest you read it again.

There are some tough stories in there. I could begin a list, but that would make this blog post really long. I've managed to parse out meaning for a great many of them (some still have me scratching my head), but maybe the point of it all is that being a good Jew (OT) and a good Christian (NT) are not easy. Even the gospels, which I thought I knew very well, raise some tough questions. I don't feel quite so bad about my lack of understanding given that the disciples had a difficult time with it as well. And they were right there.

One of the great joys, though, of reading the Bible is that there is quite literally a story in there to cover every aspect of the human experience. Good and bad. It covers the things we do well and things we fail miserably at. There are prayers of thanksgiving and prayers full of misery.

If you're not familiar with the story of the Prodigal Son, the long and short of it is this: The second son of a prosperous (Jewish) farmer asked his father for his inheritance so that he could go off on an adventure. I suspect that his adventure looked a lot like a year in Las Vegas where he didn't find a sin he didn't like. Anyway, the money was gone and his prospects were so bad that he went to work as a laborer for a (foreign) farmer slopping the pigs (abhorrent for a Jewish person) and eating worse than those pigs. It was so bad that the young man decided to go back to his father and beg for a job, because his father treated his laborers much better than he was being treated. Just hoping for a job, he returned home. His father responded by not only welcoming him back with open arms, but throwing a big party. The older brother, who never left in the first place, didn't like it one bit. His response was, "I never got a party." And the father told him that he need not be jealous because all that was his also belonged to the older brother. And that he should rejoice because his younger brother was lost, but now he's been found.

When I was in high school, that story disturbed me. As the eldest child, I read it from the perspective of the older brother. I never left. Where's my party?

As someone who ate one too many Pringles/Lays (one person, one choice), I NOW find great relief in this story. In fact, I referenced this story in my Testimony given at camp. However, at that time, I wouldn't allow myself the relief that came with it. I was still that Lesser Christian. Still the younger brother who, knowing his Father (and the richness of His kingdom) still chose to go another way. I remained stuck in the despair that the younger son felt knowing he'd blown it big time, even after coming home and getting the grand party. And, more importantly, the forgiveness of the Father.

There is very real irony in this dichotomy. In the coming back to Christ, my relationship with Him now is better than it ever was in my youth. Having hit rock bottom, I can fully appreciate the gift that Jesus gave with his death in a way that I couldn't before. Jesus tells many parables of things lost and found... and how the found thing means so much more after it was lost. I didn't really get any of those stories until I was the lost thing that was found.

Do you remember when I told you the testimony of the Gideon fellow and said that what we had in common was hitting rock bottom? The other thing we had in common was a need to forgive ourselves simply because Christ forgives us. That is another one of those things in the Bible that sounds simple, but sometimes isn't.

My friend, Stephen T. McCarthy, recommended the book Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus. I read it. One of the (many) things the author discusses is the notion of forgiveness by default. If you don't know what that is, you're blessed. The idea is that Christ died to save mankind (meaning everyone), but you just got lucky. In other words, he did it for everyone else, and you got it by default. I thought this was an idea that was just mine until I read this book, and then I realized way too many people feel this way. It's not the truth. The truth is that Jesus died for you. Specifically. There is no such thing as salvation by default.

There is a reason that in the book of Luke, there is the story about the criminals being crucified alongside Jesus. Murderers. One of them ridiculed him, but the other recognized that he was the Son of God. To that one Jesus said there is a place for you in my kingdom. That is how that pastor could tell the man who became a minister for the Gideons, "Yes," when he asked if there was forgiveness for murder. It's in the Bible. (Luke 23:39-43)

There is a reason for the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), because there will be people who know the richness of the Father's kingdom, but there will still be holes in their hearts that they believe the world can fill. They will have to hit rock bottom in that world before they understand that what they were seeking they had all along... and come home.

So, to go back to the start:

The person I hurt most was me, but God forgave me, so who am I to not forgive myself?

There are no Lesser Christians. There are Christians whose story differs from yours. But, that's good. God uses every life for His glory. Every. Life.

And that's what I learned this summer.

Do you have trouble forgiving yourself? Does knowing that Christ forgives you make it easier? Have you ever thought you were saved by default?

53 comments:

  1. Well, now. All I have to say to this is YES. And, Amen.

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  2. I love that you joined a Bible Study class. It sounds so inspiring and you've taken so much from it. Good, no great, for you! I read the Bible cover to cover back when I was a young teen and it scared me. Revelations was just terrifying to me. Now that I'm older I have a better understanding and am no longer scared.

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    1. Elsie, some of it is still beyond me. I read it and scratch my head. But, maybe that's the point. We're supposed to THINK.

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  3. Jesus died for each of us personally.
    What Liza said - Amen.

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  4. Neat results very interesting covers of the song. A lot of knowledge and insight in the bible.

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    1. I don't know about that, Mike. I'm just doing the best I can here...

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  5. AMEN!! Ironically we covered this yesterday in our church service. Not exactly the Prodigal son story but forgiving ourselves. Leaving our' Not good enough" attitude behind. We talked about how mean Saul was condemning others and being very ugly and then him accepting Jesus and he changed his name to Paul. Paul is a critical player and writer in the Bible. There are a few things that I struggle with fact that God would forgive me for. Its hard to forgive myself but I'm working on it.

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    1. I think self forgiveness has been the hardest part of the "getting well" process for me. It helps to know that God forgives. Ergo, what makes me such a big deal???

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  6. Funny isn't it? How hard it is to forgive ourselves at first?

    And then we "get it," and it turns out it's so darn easy!.

    I was raised and still identify myself as Catholic (even though I attend a non-denominational church), and get a lot of flack around the Catholic scarament of confession (where you go into a dark room, and confess to a priest as an intermediary.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghq-AOHQBR0

    The flack I get is that we do not need the intermediary according to the Bible. And it is usually in the tone that there is something sinister at work.

    Required? Perhaps not. Sinister? Absolutely not.

    Given that so many people seem to struggle with forgiveness, even if the Catholic practice is not a requirement, maybe the early church leaders were wise enough to see that people need help with forgiving, especially forgiving themselves.

    Larry

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    1. My mom and I have talked about confession several times, though not recently. We are not Catholic. It took me a while to comprehend how soothing to the soul it would be to KNOW you're forgiven. God's intermediary (which we absolutely don't need) tells us to do penance and we're forgiven. Like that. I loved the clip, btw.

      I think that Christians who can't forgive themselves go to therapy. Why? We need someone to say that it's over, stop beating yourself up, you'll make better choices in the future. Which all adds up to "you're forgiven."

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    2. It was someone I know spending years and a small fortune) in therapy (because she could not forgive her father) that led me to that conclusion (that the Church knew people would struggle).

      It would be much easier if we (people) just came with an instruction manual...but the Bible is not bad as a guide.

      I like your one statement best-about the Bible covering every aspect of the human experience.

      Many people these days are preoccupied with the world being so different that the Bible no longer applies.

      And the world is different.

      But people? Not so much..

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  7. I think we all have things we have difficulty forgiving ourselves for and envy and jealousy are in all of us at one time or another. You share so many important lessons with us.

    Susan Says

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    1. I just share what I know when I learn it. Forgiveness has been an issue on this here blog for a while now.

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  8. I'm the eldest, and I never got any party either!

    But seriously, I always thought of the Prodigal Son story really showing us how important forgiveness and acceptance is. Life is a journey. Sometimes, we learn things right away and directly. Other times, we have to make a ton of mistakes and experience hardship to learn.

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    1. Yes, that's what it's about... forgiveness. Life is a journey. We'll all do it differently, but in the end the Father is there with a party.

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  9. Sometimes as I listen to a particular recording more it will start to grow on me. This might have happened here as it did with you, but I'll stand by my preference for Crozet. Besides their name reminds me of a town in VA that I always used to pass as I traveled between East TN and Richmond. It's a beautiful part of the country.

    I'll agree that there are some very puzzling stories in the Bible, but I think the fact that it does cover the range of human experience allows for a lot of strangeness. As I read and study the Bible more, some of the things that used to disturb me either I become to understand better as I look at them from different perspectives or they continue to remain perplexing to me with an expectation that one day I will get it.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Yes, I think that it's all there for a reason. And I just hope I get it sooner or later.

      The range of human experience allows for a lot of strangeness. You said it!

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  10. I'm my own worst critic, but lately I've become better about that. In my youth I was raised to pursue perfection, but in more recent years I've begun to find the beauty in the imperfection that is this mortal life. While my personal spiritual philosophies might not line up with most mainstream Christianity, there's some real power in what you're talking about.

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    1. The beauty in the imperfection that is this mortal life... yeah, there is that:)

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  11. Reminds me of the debate I had this morning in prayer. The cause- "In this world, you will have difficulties. But fear not, for I have overcome the world." Just like the older son's promise, it's iron clad, but in the future. And sometimes you just wanna say, BUT I'M STILL STUCK HERE! So much crap tries to get in the way of calling the Promise to mind, and the worst is telling yourself that you deserve better now.

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    1. I keep reminding myself that this world will always be imperfect. That kinda helps when I feel stuck. Thank goodness this place is not my home...

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  12. Nothing and nobody is perfect. One could argue that perfection is a myth. I was raised by a perfectionist, became one myself and it drove me crazy most of my life. Finally, with the wisdom of age, I have relaxed and can accept imperfections, (for the most part). ☺
    As for the battle, I still like the Crozet version more.

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    1. I admit that I'm too hard on myself. I can't say that it's been a very helpful personality trait.

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  13. I don't normally spend a lot of time reading posts about a bible story, but for some reason, I felt compelled to read this from beginning to end and then again. I understand the prodigy son story in a way I never did, but it's more than that. I don't know where I am in life or what I believe and that frightens me. I grew up with one Jewish parent and one Episcopalian, but we weren't very religious. I learned both religions but we didn't really practice any religion. Now my kids are confused. I thought I was doing the right thing by exposing then to Christianity and Judaism, but like me they have more questions and seem to lack a feeling that we belong to any particular faith. I've been thinking about religion a lot lately and I just wish I felt that connection and unwavering faith that others like you do. I don't know how to get there . Thanks for listening to me babble.

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    1. I appreciate your questioning, Melissa. My nephew (the closest thing I have to a child) is being raised with Judaism and Christianity, and - in theory at least - he'll choose. I think it's great, but I'm not sure he'll be able to choose. Then again, there's an overlapping beauty to all the main religions of the world.

      Robin, in Judaism, this time of year, the High Holidays, forgiveness is a big theme. We work on forgiving ourselves, and forgiving those we've hurt. It's not an automatic. You don't get a free pass for hurting others. This feels right to me, and we're often extra critical of ourselves. That's something to work on too.

      Keep faith. Smiles.

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    2. Oops, sorry, I meant asking for forgiveness from those we've hurt. It's a pretty cool thing.

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    3. Melissa,

      First, I'm just really glad that you stopped and read and then reread this post.

      I'm going to try and address your comment the best I can. I think the fact that you are aware of this hole in your life where faith resides speaks to the fact that you're searching.

      In some ways I think you're lucky. I can almost hear a "ha!" from you in the background. But, let me try and explain. Judaism and Christianity are very close to one another. It is the only two religious faiths that can be found in the same book: The Holy Bible. The OT tells the story of God reaching out to the Jewish people and creating covenant with them. It also speaks to many rules and regulations that you had to follow to keep that covenant. The NT is a continuation of that story in which God sends his son, Jesus, to fulfill the promise of a Messiah in the OT (and make a new covenant through Him). Many Jews became Jewish Christians after Jesus died, because all of his disciples were Jewish.

      I think Judaism is a beautiful religion. I've told Robyn, who commented above, that many times. If I didn't absolutely believe Jesus was who He said He was, I'd consider converting. I like it that much. But, I do believe Jesus was the Messiah and He died for me, so that doesn't mean I could be just Jewish. I think it boils down to that same question for you: who do you think Jesus was? If you don't know, then I'd read the four gospels again AND the book I recommended. I linked to it on Amazon in the post. That is the best book I've read on who Jesus was (outside of The Bible).

      I think that will help you move in one direction or the other. The best we can do is follow our hearts.

      If you'd like to email me any questions, I'll do my best to answer them. You can reach me at rarichards68@gmail.com anytime.

      ~Robin

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    4. Robyn,

      Thank you for sharing that about The High Holidays. I think forgiveness is very important. I've asked for forgiveness a few times after hurting someone. When they grant it, it's a powerful thing for you and them. Because we don't ever get a free pass. Even when we don't ask. Withholding forgiveness only weighs down our hearts.

      Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

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    5. I think the best pithy explanation I've ever encountered is THIS:

      "The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed,
      and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed."


      No one can read both many times and not come away amazed at the connections, and the little details that tie both Testaments together. No human beings could have conceived of those things! Both Testaments were truly and indubitably inspired by our God.

      ~ D-FensDogG

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  14. GIRL WONDER ~
    GREAT BLOG BIT... AGAIN!
    I repeat: This Blog Bit Series Is My Favorite Thing You've Ever Posted!

    I will return later (hopefully before work later today) with a few last observations. (Particularly something about 'The Prodigal Son' story - a certain something that is one of my very, Very, VERY favorite remarks in the entire Holy Bible!!!)

    If I don't get back here tomorrow, I'll get back here SOON, nonetheless.

    At this moment, MELISSA SUGAR's comment is new, and you haven't seen it to respond yet. If I may, I'd just like to say to Melissa...

    MELISSA SUGAR ~
    In this great blog bit, my good friend ROBIN (the "Girl Wonder") recommended to her readers a book that I once recommended to her. I hear your angst and confusion. I second Robin's seconded recommendation:

    (Link:->) 'THE VERY BEST BOOK ABOUT JESUS CHRIST'* (Or, 'THE SECOND BEST BOOK ABOUT JESUS CHRIST')

    Lots of people recommend lots of things to others, until no one takes anyone too seriously.

    THIS is serious! I very, Very, VERY seriously recommend you read and at least think about what is in THAT book. Other than 'The Holy Bible' itself, there is no other book I love as much. THAT, my friend, is the INSIDE SCOOP on Who Jesus really was and what He was really doing.

    He was the ultimate Rebel, and Outlaw, and He pissed-off and Loved everyone! (Me, I mostly just piss-off people. Ha!)

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. Thank you for that comment to Melissa. I'm going to third your second of my recommendation. Can I do that?

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    2. It's yer blog... you can do ANYTHING.

      I'll be Bach... and Beethoven, too!

      ~ D-FensDogG

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    3. Good enough. I like your pithy take on the OT and NT cited above. I hope you're planning to come back with your other intended comments...

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  15. Replies
    1. I was on the losing end of this one, too.

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  16. I relate to the dad in that story. It's far too easy for me to open my arms and accept those I love who are hurting into my home/love/life. I have been chastised many times for it over the years, called naive, told "you'll never learn," etc. but as I get older, I can't help but think, I don't want to learn. That's who I am and if people I love take advantage, and they sometimes do, it's not acceptable, but I accept it. If that makes sense. And I do set boundaries, of course, but I still help wholly and without reservation or regret. I am at peace with it now, regardless of others' sometimes ill opinions.

    And I thought that BoB was a goodie. :)

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    1. It's not all that important that it make sense to me, though I think I get it. The important thing is that you feel okay with it, and it seems to me you do. You wouldn't do it differently. That's the key. Worrying about what other people think... big waste of time!

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  17. If I have to rely on my own goodness to get into Heaven, I am screwed. I thank God every day for His goodness, not mine.

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  18. >>... "I hope you're planning to come back with your other intended comments."

    Yes, I am.
    And look! Here I am!

    I just have an additional observation about The Prodigal Son story that I wanted to mention.

    I didn't seriously start reading The Bible until right after I had an inexplicable, totally unexpected Spiritual experience in which I believe Jesus baptized me with The Holy Spirit.

    Then I started reading and contemplating The Bible. I believe that right from the beginning I was being taught by The Holy Spirit, so I began understanding things that, left to my own intellectual capacity (or lack of it), I probably wouldn't have grasped.

    But even so, I don't think it was until probably the 3rd time I read The Prodigal Son story that a certain detail in it just JUMPED OUT AT ME. It became my favorite part of the story, one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible, and something that even today can make me choke up a little bit when I really think about it.

    Here's an excerpt from that story...

    But when he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”' So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

    Anyone with a lick of sense and two brain cells to rub together knows that WE ARE THE PRODIGAL SON. "We" collectively, as a result of the "fall" of mankind, and "we" individually because we are willful and neglect the Ways of God and the instructions of Jesus.

    Yet look at what it says in that story! "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him..."

    The Father is God, obviously. God the Father. And He doesn't wait for us to cross His property, reach His door, knock on it, and begin groveling and begging for His help. He just sees us coming, and while we are STILL "A LONG WAY OFF", He, Himself, rushes out to meet us! All He needs from us is for us to reconsider our ways and do an about-face. We just need to turn back to the Father, and even though we're still far from His place (Heaven), He takes it upon Himself to come get us and usher us back, rejoicing and celebrating our decision to do an about-face and make some effort to return from the prodigal life we'd poorly chosen earlier.

    That can really get to me emotionally. Because I KNOW I was still "a long way off" when Jesus came for me. In fact, I'm still a very long way off from living, loving and thinking like I should. And yet, The Father and The Son are here, helping me, encouraging me, and rooting for me.

    We just need to have the right mind-set to about-face and God generously, full of forgiveness, rushes out to bring us Home. I think I'm gonna cry again...

    ~ D-FensDogG

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    1. Yes. Yes. Yes.

      It chokes me up, too. I think it always will.

      Thank you for sharing this. I'd say more, but I need a tissue.

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    2. I hope you don't mind me saying, STMC, but that is the greatest part of the story. David Jeremiah added that since he SPLIT the property, he had nothing better to do than to wait on him all that time... as well as pointing out that running to meet the prodigal while wearing a robe (which he would have to undignifiedly lift up) was a sacrifice as well. Peace out.

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    3. GIRL WONDER ~
      Quit yer sobbing and get to work! [;-)]

      CW ~
      Yep, God bends over backwards to help bring us Home again. I've always felt close to that story because I've been more "prodigal" than many.

      ~ D-FensDogG

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  19. Feeling at peace with one's life is such a blessing. So happy you have achieved it. Most people live in a whirlwind of chaos and are still seeking. Peace always.

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    1. I think I'm gaining on it. Not sure I'm "there" yet. However, I'm better than I was. And that's something!

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  20. Such interesting results in this battle of the bands. I thought it could have gone either way.
    Great thoughts in your bible studies. Yes, it's true, bits can be difficult to understand, but as you say, the disciples were often confused and they had Jesus right there with them. I've been reading and studying the bible for years now, and no matter how many times I do, there is always something new to learn. I think as we get older, the more things in the bible seem to make sense. Keep reading!

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    1. There is always something new to learn. I think that may also be because we always filter everything through our current experience. Our experience changes, which means our understanding also changes.

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  21. I'm lousy at forgiving myself. Frankly, I don't allow it because I almost feel like if I do then I won't properly learn from it. So I lug my problems around with me. Yeah, I suck at this whole thing. I know.

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