Word of the Day: Forgiveness

Definition: A decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge; can eventually lead up to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you (Mayo Foundation, 1998-2015).

Interestingly enough, this definition came from a foundation that specializes in Health Education. Needless to say, forgiving someone who has wronged you helps you in the long run. This is a touchy subject because many confuse forgiving with forgetting. It is actually possible to forgive and remember. However, your “remembrance” should not be accompanied by negative feelings. To forget, in this context, means to not hold any resentment toward someone. Your actions toward them should not be vengeful. To forget means you would treat them how you would before they offended you. Personally, I feel it is in these times when you get to know someone and more importantly, you get to know more about yourself. 

In relationships with people, it is inevitable that somewhere down the line they will offend each other. But it is interesting to see how they can break ties from offenses and actions that ruptured their relationships. Years can go by with no resolve; only years of built-up resentment and even aggression toward the topic if it is mentioned. It is alarming how often we as believers are guilty of this behavior. The Bible clearly informs us that we need to let it go, stating “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgive each other, just as God for Christ’s sake forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).

When we wrong one another, it is considered detestable and the “unthinkable sin.” I have witnessed preachers build sermons around this issue and even speak about the wrath of God as if it were their own. I find it ironic that we preach forgiveness and even present a lovely biblical reference, but when it comes to us, we are exempt. Not so! It is not easy to forgive. However, it is necessary. Mayo Clinic further explains that holding on to grudges and bitterness can be damaging to our health. Their claim is that forgiveness can lead to:

- Healthier relationships

- Greater spiritual and psychological well-being

- Less anxiety, stress and hostility

- Lower blood pressure

- Fewer symptoms of depression

- Stronger immune system

- Improved heart health

- Higher self-esteem

The lack of forgiveness is lethal. It can sever future relationships and weigh heavily on current ones. Unforgiveness destroys. Feelings such as confusion, regret and resentment are destructive. They plant themselves in the heart and mind, causing negative behavior. Ever wonder why so many people have trust issues? It’s one thing to be wise in how to deal with people, but it’s another to be so quick to end a relationship with so much potential, because of a misunderstanding. Unforgotten offenses and the feelings that surface as a result of it have been implanted within, therefore causing negative responses. 

Some confuse caution with a lack of trust. We put so much work and thought into how we will interact with one another to avoid experiencing mishaps we have had in the past. But do you know how liberating it is to let it go? Or, be able to discuss your issues with another person, apologize and move on together? Without breaking ties, you can maturely address the disagreement and not allow it to destroy the camaraderie between you. After all, if forgiveness is good for our health, why continue to self-destruct? While this will not be a “walk in the park”, let’s put the concept of forgiveness into practice. I endorse spiritual and physical health. 

Action: Connect with someone that you need to forgive and let them know. If you need to be forgiven, connect with the person that you have wronged and ask them to forgive you. If they are completely unavailable, write a letter and send it. If they have passed away, write a letter and let all your feelings out. Place it in an envelope and store it somewhere; or throw it away, whichever you are most comfortable with. 

Prayer: Father, I thank You for this lesson in forgiveness. Help me to understand the importance of forgiveness. Thank You for showing this to me daily. When those major offenses occur, please be with me and guide me through it, in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Affirmation: I forgive anyone who has hurt or disappointed me in any manner.