Friday, October 14, 2011
The dictionary definitions of the word forgive is:
verb (used with object)
1. to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.
2. to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).
3. to grant pardon to (a person).
4. to cease to feel resentment against: to forgive one's enemies.
5. to cancel an indebtedness or liability of: to forgive the interest owed on a loan.
There are many reasons why people choose to forgive or not forgive, but what I want to do today is to shed light on the physical and emotional reasons why it is important to forgive.
Anger triggers the body to act in the “fight or flight” response. Your adrenal glands go into high gear, your stomach tightens, and often you hold your body muscles tighter. Your stress level increases. When these habits linger, you can wind up with tension in your muscles, headaches, digestive issues, rapid heartbeat, irregular heartbeat, and high blood pressure. You may find it hard to focus, think clearly, and rest. It drains you of energy and joy.
In an article by Dr. Katherine Piderman of the Mayo Clinic, she says, “forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you may always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, positive parts of your life…It doesn’t mean you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.
I have heard an explanation that “acid destroys the container in which it is held.” I look at unforgiveness that way – in the end, who does it hurt the most? You. It brings no rest, no satisfaction, no peace.
With that being said, what I’d like to suggest today is that you exercise forgiveness. I know it can be horrifically difficult and painful. Just try. Take a deep breath, and let it go as much as is possible for you today. Some forgiveness is a process – it’s not just a simple shrug of the shoulders and a quick, “Okay, I’m done!” It’s a daily forgiveness, releasing it over and over, little by little, until one day you realize you have nothing more left to release. Give yourself permission to liberate that which has held you captive for so long. Free yourself. Open those fists wide so that you hands will be open to accept all the blessings and joy life can hold.
It’s a process. Take the first step – start the journey today.