After a painful experience, such as childhood abuse or sexual betrayal, the topic of forgiveness is not one that easily comes to mind. And if you do think about forgiving someone who has deeply hurt you, you are most likely to weigh the cost of forgiveness. You may be asking yourself: “How can I get to forgiveness?” or “Do I even want to forgive?” You may even be wondering: “Can I handle this process?” and “Why should I even try?”
No matter where you are starting from, forgiveness is one of the core issues in the healing and recovery process. Here are three reasons why you owe it to yourself to keep an open mind toward the notion of forgiveness.
1) Forgiveness is Biblical
As a Christian, you need to be open to working toward forgiveness. This may be hard to swallow, yet you cannot ignore the fact that God has commanded you to forgive. These are only a few of the scriptures that clearly show God’s desire for you to forgive.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
2) Forgiveness Benefits Your Health
There is a high correlation between forgiveness and both emotional and physical health. Living in unforgiveness is like living in a chronic state of stress. And living in a long-term state of stress has a devastating impact on your health, which includes physical symptoms such as muscle tension, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, and cardiovascular concerns. Those who live out forgiveness have better immune systems, lower blood pressure, and fewer episodes of depression.
Emotional health is also directly impacted by unforgiveness. The long-term outcomes of a lack of forgiveness include increased levels of depression, paranoia, and low self-esteem. On the other hand, those who forgive are happier, more hopeful, and have higher self-esteem. Forgiveness allows for a healthier sense of self, stronger friendships, and longer marriages.
3) Forgiveness Sets You Free
When you live in unforgiveness you will tend to relive a situation and cause self-inflicted re-injury. You will not be able to fully relate to others as you will lack trust and vulnerability within relationships, and this robs you of intimacy.
Choosing to forgive makes all the difference in the world. Forgiveness breaks the shackles that hold you prisoner and releases you from hurt, resentment, and bitterness. It allows you the freedom to not be controlled by the past, but to move ahead in life and become the person God intended you to be.
What if I Need to Forgive?
If you have not yet reached the point at which you are able to forgive, that is okay. But you owe it to yourself to be working toward it. The greatest example of forgiveness was afforded to us through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. Jesus Christ is also our greatest source of comfort as we more toward an attitude of forgiveness towards those who have harmed us. He is the source of power and strength that you will need in order to forgive.
Christian Counseling to Reach a Place of Forgiveness
A Christian counselor can help you to explore your own story, grieve your losses, and ultimately make peace with your pain. With God’s grace, you will find yourself ready to forgive. I would be honored to walk alongside you on that journey.
“Brick Wall, ttronzlien-5925.jpg,” courtesy of ttronslien, morguefile.com; “Brick Wall, ttronzlien-5925.jpg,” courtesy of ttronslien, morguefile.com