If you are ever going to be healthy, you will need to learn to forgive.
Holding on to wrongs done to you will eat away at your soul, and eventually your body and mind.
We have heard about forgiveness from preachers, and well we should. But I believe we need to hear more about forgiveness from doctors. We are finding increasing evidence that unforgiveness may lead to high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, anxiety/insomnia, pain syndromes, and perhaps immune system disorders and some cancers.
Have you ever met an older person who is bitter and unhappy, with a shriveled-up body and soul? Don’t let that happen to you!
Yes, we live in a messed up world. Stuff happens. Evil happens. And some of it happens to you and me. It’s not fair. It’s not right. It’s wrong!
Now, how long are you going to let that reality control you?
Growing up in a very dysfunctional family, I was faced with the choice of how I would deal with the baggage I was left with. I learned – sometimes the hard way – what forgiveness means and what it does not mean. I am certain I would not have the life I do now if I had not learned HOW to forgive.
Forgiveness is NOT:
- Saying “That’s OK.” What happened was wrong, whether it was done to me or by me, and whether or not I had any control in the situation. The very fact that it was so wrong makes forgiveness necessary.
- Allowing myself to be hurt again. I can forgive and still protect myself (and others I care about) from further harm, if necessary. Forgiving does not mean putting myself in someone else’s control who is likely to hurt me again.
- Assuming the relationship will be fixed. The relationship with the one who hurt me MAY be healed, but I can forgive whether or not that happens.
- A feeling. Taking forgiving actions will usually lead to forgiving feelings. But if I wait for the feelings, I will never take the actions!
Certain misunderstandings about forgiveness have made the idea much harder for some. That doesn’t mean it’s easy! It may be one of the hardest things you will ever need to do. But it really IS true that the only way to be free from the power of the wrong done to you is to forgive.
SO, What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is choosing to let it go. It’s really just that simple. And that hard.
Here are some things that are true about forgiveness. And each involves an action step.
- Is a decision. The feelings may follow quickly, or they may take forever to catch up. The first step is to decide to forgive.
- Is a process. You may need to decide over and over again. Step two is to just keep walking. It may take a long time, and that’s OK as long as you keep choosing to forgive.
- I need it too! Sometimes the hardest one to forgive is oneself. And my actions may have harmed others along the way. Forgiving myself is the only way forward. Remember, God has forgiven you!
- Help is available. For Christians, forgiveness is also a command. Jesus said we must forgive. And God’s power at work in our soul makes forgiveness possible. Ask Him: He will help.
Forgiveness MAY result in the healing of relationships, or it may not. But it ALWAYS results in my own healing. It truly does set my soul free.
We have medical evidence now that choosing to walk through a process of forgiveness makes significant positive changes in several body systems, including coronary arteries, stress hormones, and more. Your body really will know the difference.
Forgiveness puts an end to the control the painful or evil event or person had over my mind and heart. And it’s the only way to do so.
Forgiveness may be difficult. But it IS possible. And it IS worth it!
Your turn: Have you struggled to forgive? What were things you found helpful as you learned forgiveness? I’d love to hear from you!