The Time for Giving, and the Time for Forgiving

It is Christmas, the time for giving, and the time for forgiving.

…as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

Forgiveness is an absolute necessity. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.”  Scary, isn’t it? That we would dare to live even one day without fully forgiving, knowing that as we do (or do not) forgive, God will forgive us. Lack of forgiveness is harmful to the one who needs to forgive, for the one(s) who need to be forgiven, and to the unity of the community.

Think about how lack of forgiveness is harmful to your health. Even if your negative feelings are justified, they are harmful to you. Do not waste your time and energy storing hatred, anger, or ill feelings against someone who caused pain or disappointment to you or to someone you care about. We don’t have the power to change the past. BUT we do have control of how we experience the past NOW. You do have this powerful choice:  you can continue to respond in the habitual way of blame and anger or you can focus on forgiving with the powerful help of Jesus.

Well documented research states unforgiveness and anger can cause heart disease, heart attacks, heart rhythm irregularities and many other life-threatening diseases. A person who fails to recognize and deal with his anger is like someone who each day takes a small dose of poison. Jesus says, “In your anger, do not sin.”  Chronic anger can cause many disorders including high blood sugar, high blood pressure, reduced immune system functioning and disorders; you are constantly in a subclinical mode of “fight”.

The Mayo Clinic newsletter  (11/11/14) states:  The benefits of forgiveness are: 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 and higher self- esteem.

Once you have made the decision to forgive and you are ready in your heart to forgive, the healing process related to forgiving begins. You will notice your orientation toward the person who hurt you will begin to change, even your facial expressions, posture, and body image will change. Your blood pressure and heart function are likely to improve. Bottom line: forgiveness heals both the person who is forgiven and the person who forgives.

Forgiveness has healing power. Although forgiveness can be challenging, it is one of the most healing experiences we can have.  It liberates us from the bitterness of hate, from the dark energy that robs us of peace, of the joy of life. Forgiveness frees us from the chains that bind us and gives us the freedom to live life fully. FORGIVENESS IS A DIVINE GIFT MADE AVAILABLE THROUGH THE POWER OF JESUS CHRIST IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. FORGIVENESS IS A NECESSARY PART OF YOUR BECOMING A HIGHLY HEALTHY PERSON.

Marilyn Fleming, RN, MSN

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