According to the dictionary forgiveness is the process in which we cease to feel resentment or anger for an offense that we perceive to have been committed against us. For the purposes of this article I will focus on forgiveness where no monetary compensation is at issue. In other words, I want to look at the relationships between people where forgiveness will bring healing to the people involved.
For many, forgiving the person who has hurt us may be difficult because they are unable or unwilling to offer an apology for their actions. However, even if this is the case your health and well-being could well be tied to finding it within your heart to forgive the person who has offended you.
To be able to forgive your fellow man you must realize that forgiveness is a conscious choice, a physical act involving the will. This means that even if the person who has hurt you has died you can and must, for your own good, consciously choose to forgive that person.
For me, the hardest person to forgive was my mother. Her neglect, abuse, and ultimate abandonment caused me so much pain and loss of self worth that I thought of her as the devil personified. Along with that deep seated, near hatred, came a self-loathing and physical disease . In fact I became so ill that I believed that I would die if I did not face the anger that was literally eating me alive.
Fortunately, God showed me how the bitterness that I was harboring was hurting me. I made a conscious decision to forgive her and get on with my life. At that point my health began to improve.
One way that I worked on finding forgiveness in my heart was to find out about my mother’s life before she became my mother. In other words, see what it would have been like to walk a mile in her shoes. What I discovered was that she, too, had suffered much hurt and harbored a lot of bitterness that she was unable to shed. As a result of her failure to forgive her parents and my father she nearly succeeded in passing on her anger and hate to the next generation. Fortunately, for me, God woke me up in time to spare my own children the agony that I faced growing up. That doesn’t mean that I was the perfect parent but it does mean that I loved my children and they knew it. It also meant that while my mother escaped into alcohol I avoided it like the plague.
While the above is my personal experience with forgiveness even science is beginning to question religious concepts of forgiveness through research in psychology, sociology, and medicine. In the religious realm you may find that some philosophies emphasize God’s forgiveness to sinful man while others emphasize the need for humans to forgive one another.
It must be acknowledged, however, that forgiveness does not come easy for most of us. Our natural instinct is one of self preservation. If you are one of the millions who believe that the Bible is sacred you will find that even here, in Colossians 3:13, we are admonished to “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you many have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (NIV) This goes hand in hand with loving your neighbor as yourself no matter what color, what ethnic group or nationality that he may have originated from. Remember, once the melanin and carotene is removed from the skin we are all the same.
So, now that you realize forgiveness is critical to your obedience to God and to your physical wellbeing how do you go about actively forgiving those who have hurt you?
It is interesting to note, that while the scientific fields of psychology, sociology, and medicine are researching the value of forgiveness as it relates to a person’s healthl, I don’t believe it is anything that we can do without placing our trust in God to do the work in us. I believe that God honors our commitment to obey Him and our desire to please Him. With that in mind I think that He will complete the work of helping us obtain total forgiveness in our hearts. My belief that this is so comes from another scripture in the Bible: Philippians 1:6 where it states “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (NLT)
So be it the government, politics, credit card companies, your neighbor or your family it comes down to the necessity to let anger and bitterness go from your life. One great lady, Corrie Ten Boom, a Christian woman who survived a Nazi concentration camp stated: “Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free, and to realize that the prisoner was you.”
So, if you desire to experience better health, be happy, and be able to share the good things in life with others you must choose to forgive those who have hurt you and let go of your anger and resentment along with your thoughts of revenge. I hope that this short article will make a difference in your life. Have a wonderful day full of forgiveness from others for the wrongs that they may perceive you have done to them.