Continued from Forgiveness And Health
The word "give" is in the middle of the word "forGIVEness" and at the center of the concept. The person being forgiven does not have to deserve it or even ask for it...they don't even have to know. It's a gift! If you have a debt forgiven, it means you no longer have to pay. When we forgive someone, we are freely relieving them of any debt they owe us as a result of the harm they caused. For this reason, forgiveness doesn't deny they caused us harm, but it relieves us of the need to get them back in some way. This kind of gift benefits the giver far more than the recipient.
Often, the reason we find it hard to forgive others is our own need for forgiveness. Strange as it may seem, we've all hurt and abused others. We may not have done so on purpose, or in the same ways we've been hurt, but we've all been the villain for someone. Sometimes, the one I hurt the most is me. I'm also finding that I'm the one who is holding the most resentment toward me. Can you relate? So, if we haven't been forgiven and haven't forgiven ourselves, how do we muster the ability to forgive others? Forgiveness is a lot like love in this respect...loving someone doesn't reduce the total amount of love, it increases it. In fact, loving someone else increases the love we feel...hmmm. Whether we believe in God or not, many of us have heard of the Lord's Prayer. By praying, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," Jesus seems to be teaching that forgiveness for ourselves and our forgiveness of others are linked. We can't have one without the other. In this respect, forgiveness is definitely a two-way gift.
Just because it's a gift, doesn't mean forgiving others will be easy. For me, in many cases, it's been the hardest thing to do. There are people who hurt me over a decade ago I'm still in the process of forgiving. Oh, I decided long ago that I forgive them, but, even now an occasional resentment wells up in me over what they did. Others, who took equally long for me to complete the process, now have no resentment linked to their memories. In many cases, it's been replaced with compassion and pity. We often think forgiveness is impossible because it isn't immediate. We try to forgive and then, with the next memory, we feel the pain and resentment all over again. Forgiveness isn't a pill that temporarily masks the pain, but, over time, it will eliminate that pain. The deeper the hurt we experience, the harder it is and the longer it takes to eliminate the pain and resentment. This doesn't mean we haven't forgiven...just that the process isn't complete. Genuine forgiveness isn't shown by the lack of resentment, but by the willingness to stay in the process and see it to completion.
Sadly, it seems many of us never get to the great release and joy that the process of forgiveness brings. Ask them about their past and it's a series of villains and offences. There always seems to be someone blocking their every attempt at happiness. This isn't to say these hurts weren't real. There is no way any of us gets out of life without being hurt, deeply. It rains on us all! That we were hurt isn't the real tragedy...it's when we let that hurt fester and swell until it overwhelms our experience of life. This is where the condition of forgiveness as a way of life is most powerful.
When we make forgiveness a way of life, no one can make us live in powerlessness, nursing emotional wounds until they're the focus of our lives. We have a newfound power over our lives, taken by choice form those who would make us victims. The negative emotions are replaced by productivity and confidence, building our immune systems and insulating us from stress, anxieties and depression. No one is promising a life of forgiveness is easy...just easier than the alternative...and far healthier.
If you're looking to improve your health, you probably want a healthy life...including mind, body and spirit. You can renew your mind and spirit with God's help. He can heal the stuff your diet doesn't control. If you want His help, go to Healing From God.
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