August 20, 2013
Forgiveness and Why It’s Important
You may have heard the saying “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you,” or “To err is human; to forgive is divine.” Both sayings are absolutely true. When you forgive someone, you are freeing yourself from the pain, hurt, stress, anguish and all of the other negative emotions attached to unforgiveness and giving yourself a chance to heal and find peace. Forgiving yourself and forgiving others is an important key to happiness and to God’s blessings. When you hold a grudge against someone, you are not punishing them, you are only hurting yourself. Once you come to that realization, you can forgive whoever has hurt you or whoever you hold a grudge against and know you’re not saying “I’m okay with what he/she did,” but are saying, “I refuse to let what they did to me hurt me and steal my peace anymore.” When you forgive, you lift a huge weight off of you and are free and feel peace and love instead.
It is a bit trickier when you need to forgive yourself, but that is as important as forgiving others. When you are angry with yourself, you are punishing yourself and blocking God’s blessings for you. You need to understand that you are human and are bound to make mistakes but that what is important is to learn from the mistakes and that starts when you open your heart and forgive yourself and let yourself receive God’s forgiveness He had already given to you and His love and love of yourself.
You should have your heart and mind open to forgiveness regardless of whether or not you believe in God, because whether or not you believe in his existence, unforgiveness causes physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health problems. People who hold grudges and harbor unforgiveness tend to feel body aches and pains all over, have low energy and are always tired, have trouble concentrating, and are miserable most of the time. Why would anybody want to live that way? As soon as you understand the two concepts mentioned earlier: First, that when you forgive someone you are not condoning their actions or saying it was okay and second, that the person suffering as long as you refuse to forgive is you and not the other person, then you will find it easier to forgive.
Another thing to understand about forgiveness is that by forgiving you are merely letting go of the anger, bitterness, pain, hurt, resentment, and all other negativity attached to unforgiveness and that this does not require you letting the person back into your life if they did something really horrible to you. But if the offense was minor, such as the other person using the washing machine or oven (or other appliance) when you were going to use it, then overreacting and being rude and holding a grudge is a waste of your time and energy. The reason why you have low energy when you are holding a grudge is because it takes all of your energy to stay angry with the other person. So whether someone is guilty of a minor offense or a major offense (or one in between), it is important to forgive the offender for your own health and peace of mind and heart. You do not even have to let the other person know you have forgiven them, particularly if it was a major offense. Just simply let go of all of the anger, pain, hurt, resentment, and bitterness; let go of whatever it is the other person did to you. If it was not a major offense (and sometimes even if it was, depending on how much the person means to you), once you have realized that then you may want to let the other person know they are forgiven, especially if they were (or are) a close friend, family member, or someone you love in any way.
Are you holding a grudge against anyone or harboring unforgiveness towards others? Are you condemning yourself and refusing to forgive yourself for something you have done to God or to someone else (or to both God and someone else)? If it is something you did against God, he tells us in 1 John 1:9, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” All of Psalm 32 also talks about forgiveness and it would be worth reading, whether or not you have ever read it before. God forgives you the moment you confess your sin so you should forgive yourself too. For sins others have done to you, Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:14-15, “If you forgive those who have sinned against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” It probably won’t happen overnight, but you can learn to forgive completely and frequently so that every time someone commits a sin against you, then you can forgive them and whenever you do something wrong and have confessed (to God or to the person(s) you sinned against) your sin, you can forgive yourself. Try it today, it is very freeing! When you forgive yourself and others, you will be unloading a huge burden and you will feel joy, peace, and love and you will feel wonderful.