In Matthew 5: 14/16 it says, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain can not be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father." Those verses were so meaningful to me. I feel that what happened to me can no longer be hidden. It has to be shared with others, such as yourself. I pray that my testimony in this book will enlighten you, and help bring you closer to Jesus and set you free from the of anger, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, revenge and unforgiveness.
In 1987, at age 53, I was fairly happy with my life. I had a great wife, and three children, two of whom were grown with families of their own and one that was soon to enter high school. For 25 years, I had a career in sales. I felt secure in my job and truly enjoyed it. My sales territory consisted of all of Louisiana and part of Mississippi. Although it was a large territory and required a lot of time and energy, I didnít mind. Over the years, I had built a great relationship with my customers so that whenever I called on them it was like visiting old friends. They trusted me and knew that when they bought something from me, I came with it. They knew I would be there to service them or help in any way possible. It was a pleasure getting up and facing the world every morning because I felt good about the job I did. I was also looking forward to retirement in a few years and finally spending that special time with my wife, doing the things we always dreamed of. Life seemed good.
Then, slowly, the threads that held my world together began to unravel. I was informed by my boss that there would be a reorganization of employees. The large, profitable sales territory that I had built up since I started with the company, was going to be divided with a younger employee. They reduced my sales territory drastically which meant basically starting from scratch. As a good portion of my salary came from commissions, I was horrified. This not only meant quite a bit less money coming in but I was back to knocking on doors and cold calling on new clients. I felt angry, hurt and betrayed. Here I was, close to retiring, at a point in my life where I felt I would be able to reap the rewards of all my hard work and it was being taken away from me. I felt I didnít deserve this but yet it was happening to me. I began to take it personally and felt that they were trying to make it hard for me. I was also worried that any day I might be laid off because of the reorganization. I grudgingly accepted the new task but each day I became more resentful and bitter. With the resentment, came anger - anger with my boss, the company and even with my coworkers. Soon the anger began to reach out even further, even to some of my clients. Then there came a point when that anger turned into hatred. All my life, I tried to do the right thing. I respected other people and tried to help them whenever they needed it and this is the treatment I got in return! What I didnít realize then is that anger and hatred has a snowball effect. It keeps growing and extending to all areas of your life until finally it takes over completely. It consumed me and soon every little molehill in my life became an insurmountable mountain.
I became less tolerant with people. If a car pulled out in front of me in traffic, I just wanted to hit him. I even considered buying an old truck and putting an old railroad bumper on it and if someone pulled out in front of me, I could really let them have it. I also had a neighbor, at that time, who decided to start collecting junk, which was fine until he started using my fence to lean it all on. Trying to talk to him was useless and it ended up in a shouting match, at which point I told him exactly what I thought of him. I tried to forget about it but I couldnít. Every time I came home my eyes went straight to the fence to see what new junk he had collected and my anger would start all over again. But each time my anger would grow greater because I felt I didnít deserve to be treated that way. I would never treat someone else that way. I had always respected other peopleís property but no one respected mine. You see, the snowball just kept growing.
I tried to go on vacation, just to get away from it all, but it followed me. I went scuba diving but even 20 feet under the water, I was still reliving all of the anger I had experienced. I couldnít escape from it. It was totally possessing me!
My life continued on this way for over a year when something strange happened. I was calling on a client one morning and as I pulled up in front of his office, I began to cry. I didnít know why I was crying so I left. I stopped at a restaurant to try to get my composure. I went to the rest room and washed my face. When I came out, I ordered a cup of coffee and after sitting there for a while, I began to feel better. I decided to go back to my clientís office but as soon as I drove up, I began to cry again. I couldnít understand what was happening and I couldnít control it. I just had to leave. I cried the entire thirty miles back home, uncontrollably, like a child with a broken heart. I kept looking out of the window to see if anyone was looking at me. I felt foolish but I couldnít stop. When I got home, my wife asked, "Whatís wrong?" "I donít know", I told her, "I just feel depressed." She suggested that I go to bed to get some rest, so I did.
From then on, it was downhill. I spent about three weeks in that bedroom, I didnít want to come out. All I wanted to do was to close the blinds and just sleep. It seemed as if there was a fast forward tape constantly playing in my mind, and I couldnít slow it down. I kept thinking, "What if I lose my job? What if I say something about how I feel and they fire me? After all these years, what am I going to do? I donít have anything to fall back on or anywhere else to go. What if my neighbor stacks more junk on the fence? Itís already beginning to bow under the weight. What if he comes into my yard and wants to start trouble?" My mind was filled with "what if's " and I kept thinking how unfair it all was. It just wasnít right. These thoughts and all of the anger and hurt kept playing over and over in my mind until it overwhelmed me. The only time I got any relief from these thoughts was when I was asleep. I didnít have to deal with anything or anybody. Sleep was a form of escape so thatís all I wanted to do. Things had gotten so bad that I even considered taking my own life because I felt I just couldnít handle it anymore.
My family tried to help me and comfort me but all I wanted was to be left alone. I felt as if I was the only one in the world that felt that way. How could I explain to anyone how strong the anger and resentment was that I felt? I was sure no one would understand. My eldest son would come and ask me to go take a walk with him. I wanted to, but I didnít want to leave the security of my bedroom. Friends and family would try to help by telling me that I shouldnít feel that way, I had a good job, a great family. I knew these things already but it didnít matter. It only made me feel worse. I just couldnít change the way I felt.
One afternoon, my wife came into the bedroom and said, "Honey, Iíve fixed you something to eat. Why donít you come in the kitchen and eat and maybe we could talk a little?" I told her, "Look, why donít you just get the hell out of here? Just let me alone, will you?" She closed the door and went out into the hallway. I could hear her begin to cry, pitifully. I got up, filled with anger, and went out there. "What the hell are you crying for?", I yelled. I felt like I was the one who was hurting, what reason did she have to cry? She just looked up at me and said, "I love you so much and I just donít know what to do to help you." It made me realize that there was something wrong with me but I didnít know what it was. Because I had no control over my feelings, I was frightened. I thought I was losing my mind. When my wife said that to me, it struck something inside of me and I told her, "I need to get some help. This isnít me. I just donít know whatís wrong with me."
My wife took me to the psychiatric hospital so that I could check in and maybe get the help I needed. But I wasnít sure this was the right step. I went inside and looked around. Some people were sitting there, staring off into space, some were talking to themselves, some were huddled in the corners and I thought, "Wait a minute, I donít belong here!" I turned to my wife and said, "Look, I think Iím just going to leave. I donít think this place is for me. I donít belong here!" She said, "Well, if you want to leave, get your suitcase and weíll go." But I realized I needed some kind of help, so I said, "No, Iíll stay." But when she left and walked out that door, I think that was one of the most frightening moments of my life!
The doctors put me through a whole series of tests and the diagnosis was that I had a chemical imbalance and that was causing the depression. It was such a relief to find out that there was something physically wrong with me which caused the way I felt. I was started on some medications but they caused some bad side effects. The doctors then decided to put me on a different medication which they said was much slower acting. It would take about thirty days to get into my system well enough to have any effect. It would probably be a number of months before I would even wake up in the morning and not feel severely depressed. I was informed that I would have to remain on the medication for the rest of my life or else I would go right back into that severe depression.
My first two weeks there, I was not allowed to be alone. I had told them how depressed I had been and that I had even considered taking my own life. So they felt that they really needed to watch me. I wasnít allowed to go outside in the courtyard alone and anytime I went anywhere, someone was with me. I was in the hospital for about two and a half weeks, when they gave me a two hour pass. My wife came to pick me up and said, "Why donít we go home? Iíve fixed a dinner for you and the kids are there. I thought that you might like to see them." But I said no. I knew I couldnít go home then because the minute I turned the corner and saw the neighbors yard, it would just be too much. I couldnít go back to that bedroom where I had stayed for so long feeling depressed and thinking of ways to end my life. I just couldnít go back into that environment. I said, "Letís just stay here." I was beginning to feel somewhat protected in the environment of the hospital. I didnít have to worry about anybody because I wasnít allowed visitors. But I also knew that it wasnít going to last. I knew I was using up my savings and I was probably going to lose my job and my home. And I didnít know how long my family would be able to put up with me. To say I was afraid would be an extreme understatement.
We sat together for a little while and then I asked her to take me over to church. Let me tell you, church was the last place I wanted to go. I couldnít believe those words came out of my mouth. You see, I resented God - big time. My thoughts were, "If youíre such a good God, then why is all this happening to me? Iíve always tried to do the right thing, treat other people with respect. I donít deserve all the things that has happened to me. If you were any kind of loving God, you wouldnít let these bad things happen." But that night, we went to St. Margaret Mary Church anyway. The Church was closed but the chapel was open because of Perpetual Adoration. It was 8 oíclock at night and we were the only ones in the chapel. That seemed strange, because there was always someone there. We went to the front of the chapel and knelt down in the front pew. I tried to pray. I tried to say the Lordís Prayer and even all the prayers I had learned as a child, but I couldnít. I just couldnít pray. I felt like such a hypocrite because I didnít want to be there. I couldnít let go of all the hurt and anger I was feeling. I would have left except when I looked over at my wife, she was kneeling down praying intensely. I didnít want to disturb her, so I sat down in the pew and just stared at the Holy Eucharist. I sat there staring at the Eucharist for a long time and as I stared, it was as if this fast forward tape, filled with all these negative thoughts, that had been playing over and over in my mind, began to slow down. I thought, "Well, Iíll just go back to work and do the best I can. And if they fire me, well theyíll just fire me. Iíll find something else. But what am I going to do, I donít know anything else? But, itís O.K..., Iíll find something else." And then I began to think of other things I could do. I closed my eyes and I thought, "Iím going to say a prayer for my boss, about what he did to me." But when I thought that, it was as if someone reached down into my stomach and twisted my intestines. "You fool, youíre going to forgive him after all the rotten things he did to you?" But I thought, "No, Iím still going to say a prayer for him and his wife. And as I sat there, with my eyes closed, I saw a dark circle, and around that circle I began placing these people whom I was praying for in a clockwise motion in my mind. I thought, "Iím going to say a prayer for my neighbor and his wife". And again, I experienced that physical feeling of pain. It was as if my stomach was knotting up inside of me. I was literally fighting an internal battle. But I thought, "Iím still going to pray for them. And Iím going to say a prayer for that person whoíd been spreading lies about me. Even though some people believed those lies and it hurt me, Iím going to pray for them. And Iím going to pray for this person and for that person. And as I continued putting these people within that circle in my mind, there was a rush of more and more people that I needed to pray for. But through all of this, I still had that terrible twisted feeling in the pit of my stomach. I thought, "Itís so hard. I donít know if I can let go of this." Suddenly, out of the center of the dark circle in my mind, came a thought, a thought so powerful and strong, I knew it didnít come from me. It said, "Do it for me." At that instant, all of the anger, hatred, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, revenge and depression were gone. Totally gone! Never, in my entire life, had I experienced the peace that I felt at that moment. I started crying and went outside the church. My wife followed me and asked what happened. I told her about my experience and she asked me, "Louie, what did you do?" "I didnít do anything. I donít understand it. Itís like it was all taken away - totally taken away. It was like it was lifted from me. I just canít explain how I feel now. None of it is there. Iím not depressed. I feel absolutely wonderful!"
I went back to the hospital and asked the nurse, "Whatís the chances of my going home tomorrow? Iím O.K." and I told her what happened. She told me that I would have to speak to the psychiatrist about that. The next day the psychiatrist came in and I said, "Look Doc, I want to get out of here. Iím O.K. now." and I proceeded to tell him what happened. Needless to say, I think they thought that Iíd totally lost it now. He said, "I just canít let you go like that. When you signed in here, you gave us the right to hold you, even against your will, for at least 72 hours, until we can be sure youíre not a danger to yourself or others. We would have to run more tests on you before we could even consider letting you go." "Doc," I said, "Do what you have to do but I want out of here because thereís nothing wrong with me." They ran the tests and miraculously the chemicals were all back in balance. Since that night in the chapel, Iíve never taken any medications for depression and Iíve never again experienced any symptoms of the illness.
I knew then that God wanted me to do something to help other people, but I didnít know what it was. I remember reading Matthew 9: 37/38 Jesus said, " The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few." I felt that was meant for me.
From that moment on, I began a new journey. I knew then that I wanted to help people. I didnít know exactly how but I knew that was going to be my vocation. I felt convinced God was calling me to do a particular kind of work. It was only after I removed the wall of anger and hurt that I had built up that I was open to all the good that was flowing into my life. I became more aware of how God was working in my life each day, even in simple and profound ways. I quit my job and tried starting my own business but that wasnít the path that God had chosen for me. The business failed but my faith didnít. I was without a job, income and hospitalization when my wife came to me and told me that she had been bleeding internally. I told her to go to the doctor but she protested, saying we couldnít afford it without hospitalization. Against her wishes, she went to the doctor and when she came out she was crying. I asked her what was wrong and she said, "I donít know for sure. When he pushed in on my abdomen, I could feel something in there. What scared me most was the look on his face when he pushed on my abdomen. He thinks I have a tumor in my colon thatís causing the bleeding. He wants me to come back in a couple of days for more tests."
Later that night, even though we were watching television, I kept thinking of Deana. Suddenly the thought came into my mind, "Pray with her." It was the same powerful thought that I experienced in the chapel the night I was healed. Iíd learned to recognize it now because it didnít come from me. My reaction was more like, "Do what?" I felt awkward asking Deana that, not that she would have thought anything about it, but it wasnít quite my style. I sat there for three hours until the thought became so strong, I couldnít sit there any more. Finally, I said, "Deana, can I pray with you?" She said, "Iíd like that." We went into the bedroom and as she lay down on the bed, I placed my hand over her abdomen. I began to feel heat coming from my hand but when I moved my hand further over on her abdomen I couldnít feel anything. I only felt it over one area and I couldnít understand why I felt it at all. I thought, "This is crazy. Iím supposed to be praying with her and Iím worried about feeling this heat." The thought came again and this time it was almost like a command, "Do it!" Deana had been laying there with her eyes closed and I placed my hand back over the spot where I felt the heat. I said, "Jesus, you know where I am. I donít have a job or any hospitalization. I donít know what to do but I remember somewhere in the Bible that you said, whatever you ask for in prayer and believe that you have, it will be given to you. So, Iím asking you now that whatever it is in her abdomen that is causing her to bleed, remove it." I then had the strangest feeling. For a split second, it was if my hand went into her abdomen. I didnít say anything about this to my wife and we finished praying and I went to bed. The next day, Deana came up to me and said, "Since I have to go for the test tomorrow would you pray with me again?" I told her I would and as she lay there, I placed my hand over her abdomen but I couldnít feel anything. Even though I moved my hand around, I couldnít feel that heat sensation again. I tried to analyze it in my mind. Why couldnít I feel anything? Maybe she had a fever last night and that was what I felt. And then the thought came again and it said, "You asked and itís been given you." I canít describe how I felt. It was as if rays of heat were coming from my face and I said, "Deana, itís gone!" I just knew it to be a fact. She said, "I know. I felt something!" The next day, after her test the doctor came up to me and said, "Louis, sheís fine. I donít understand it. I know what I felt but I went all the way into her colon, as far as I could go, but sheís clean as a whistle." There were no signs of bleeding and to this day, she has not had another problem.
More and more, I began to experience miracles. A friend called me and said that his friend had come down from Canada to attend a convention in Atlanta, Georgia. The person she was supposed to go with became ill and he thought perhaps I could drive her there. I agreed and we set out. It was a convention of the National Association of Clergy Hypnotherapists and to attend you had to be a clinical hypnotherapist and an ordained minister. Our plan was to take her to the convention and we would do a little sight seeing until it was time to pick her up. God had other plans. When we arrived, they invited Deana and I to sit in on the convention. There were many different denominations attending. There were Baptist ministers, Methodist ministers and even Catholic priests and Bishops. It was there we met Dr. Art Winkler and his wife Dr. Pam Winkler. I had been asked to share my story and afterwards, I was approached by the Winklers and they suggested I study hypnotherapy. So I went to school, studied hypnotherapy and received my degree. I began to notice how God put certain people in my path to help me on this new journey, a journey that brought me to where I am today. And all of the trials that I experienced were merely stepping stones, lessons I needed to learn, to help me get on the right path.
When my life was filled with those negative thoughts and emotions, I was blind to all the light, goodness and love that was around me. It took me reaching the bottom of the pit before I could finally look up. I didnít realize it back then, but I now know, that night in the chapel, in my own crude way, I was forgiving ó forgiving all those who had hurt me. And through forgiveness came freedom and true peace. It wasnít easy. I literally struggled with myself. There was a part of me that didnít want to let it go ó a part of me that wanted justice or revenge because I didnít deserve what they did to me. But there was another part of me that was tired of hurting ó tired of having this weight pressing down on me and overshadowing every part of my life. It would have been much easier to hold on to those negative feelings. That knot in my stomach told me that I shouldnít do it because I was right and they were wrong. It wasnít until I made the choice to pray for those who hurt me that I was open enough to allow God to come into my life and heal me in such a profound way.
Never again will I allow those things to control my life because I know now that the choice is mine. What I want you to understand is that the choice is yours. Our free will, the power to choose, is the most powerful thing we have. It is so powerful that even God Himself will not interfere with it.
Most things in our lives are not life and death situations. But with our imagination, we blow them out of proportion. Many times we create our own mountains, our own demons. When we hear about Jesus casting out demons, many of us picture a devil with horns and fiery eyes. But the demon could be unresolved anger, resentment, bitterness, revenge, hatred or negative thinking and these demons can totally possess us, if we allow them to. We have the choice whether or not to give them any power in our lives. There is nothing in this world that has any power except the power that we choose to give it. I now realize that I suffered from more than a chemical imbalance. I suffered from an imbalance in my inner trinity, my mind, body and spirit. I didnít just suffer from it, I had caused it! I had let my mind run the same negative course over and over for so long that I became one dimensional. I couldnít see my way around my problems because I viewed them from only one perception. Only through forgiveness was my spirit set free. And only when my spirit was truly free did I experience joy, a joy unlike anything I had ever known. My life is filled with peace because I know the choice is mine. I have the power to control the situations in my life by choosing how I react to them. Unfortunately, depression is becoming more common. It is running through the world like wildfire, even affecting teenagers and young children, and the suicide rate is climbing. Depression is like a mental cancer. It takes away ones' own identity and causes people to take their own lives. It possesses, consumes and destroys. Depression is a serious illness but it can be treated successfully. It is one of the few illnesses in which the patient recovers stronger and healthier, than before they developed the illness. Depression comes from a false perception of being deprived of something that you want, but you feel you donít have. Change the perception and you will heal the depression. I lived in that lonely darkness of depression and it consumed my life. I feel this is why God healed me, so that I can help bring His light into the dark hearts of depression.
In my hypnotherapy practice I work with the Holy Spirit every day. I do everything that I know how to do for that person and then I place my hand over that person's forehead and silently say a prayer for them. I ask Jesus to touch them and heal them in whatever way they need to be healed. It may be a physical healing. It may be an emotional healing. Or it may be a spiritual healing.
At the time the person is in my office, my wife Deana is in the other room praying for that person. I know what Jesus meant when He said, "Where two or more are gathered in my name, I will be there with you." We see true miracles happening. We see things happening that have no logical or medical explanation, but they happen. I see Jesus healing today, the same as He did two thousand years ago.
Iím going to give you a key. I want you to use this key. This key will unlock any lock and it will open any door. Forgiveness is the key. Forgiveness is the key to happiness and peace. It's a key to meaning ó in a world that make no sense!
I can assure you, if you use this key, it will unlock any chains that bind you! And will set you free from all anger, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, depression and revenge. It will give you peace of mind, and a healthy body and will set your spirit free. Forgiveness is not a feeling, itís an act of the will, the free will that God gave us. The good feelings will come later, they are the byproducts of the act of the will.
If you can remember in Matthew 26: 39 Jesus said, "Father if it is possible, let this cup pass from me." There was an inner battle going on within Him. In Matthew 26: 42 " He prayed again, saying, "Father if it is not possible that this cup pass without me drinking it, Your will be done." He turned it all over to God the Father. He ended the battle.
I realize now, that night in the chapel, before the Blessed Sacrament, I was willing to forgive, to forgive all those who had hurt me and to forgive myself. I didnít like the person that I had become and I didnít want to feel that way anymore. So in my own crude way, I was forgiving. Through forgiveness, I was open to Jesus and His healing grace and it was then, that He touched me and set me free. He gave me peace of mind, He healed my body, (putting the chemicals back in balance) but most of all He set my spirit free.
In Matthew 22: 35/40 And one of them, (a scholar of the law) asked Jesus a question, to test him. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" And Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as you love yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."
I can imagine the scholar saying, "NO, I only want to know what is the first and most important commandment." But Jesus, almost in the same breath, said, "The second most important commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself." That seems to fly right over our heads. Did we not understand what Jesus meant? If we loved our neighbor as we love ourselves, our neighbors would be in a terrible shape. Jesus was saying, love yourself. You were created in the image and likeness of God. You are a child of God. Jesus said the kingdom of God is within you.
Sometimes itís easier for us to forgive others than to forgive ourselves. We hold onto guilt or anger and literally become our own worst enemy.
Why hold on to all that anger? Why not do what Jesus did, as he hung on the cross? He said, "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do." Can you imagine all of the physical and emotional pain He was experiencing at that time? And yet, even with all the pain, He was willing to forgive. Who are we to hold on to anger and unforgiveness, when Jesus Himself was willing to forgive? Jesus did not deserve all the things that were happening to Him, yet He was willing to forgive. The resurrection came through forgiveness. And the same is true with you. Through forgiveness you can be resurrected to a new life, a new meaning, a new purpose.
Forgiveness will set you free from all the mistakes of the past, from all guilt. It will set you free from anger, resentment, bitterness, jealously and revenge.
Like the old phrase says, "Try it youíll like it."
In Matthew 18: 21/22 Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven."
Forgiveness is ongoing and necessary when someone says something to you that hurts, when someone does something to you that wasnít right and you didnít deserve it, when you are following that little old lady in your car and she is doing twenty miles an hour, in a forty mile zone, when that person pulls out in front of you and has the audacity to give you the finger or when you do everything to help someone and they abuse you. Think about it. What forgiveness is needed in your life? The choice is yours. Be willing to forgive. Its controlled your way of life long enough.
I remember reading somewhere that the holiest place on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love.
When you forgive, you are truly on Holy Ground.
By reading this booklet, I pray your heart and mind will be opened to the awesome, healing power of God.
For more help in dealing with forgiveness, check out Dr. Bauerís meditation tape, The Passion.
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