Forgive to Live

"The relation that exists between the mind and the body is very intimate. When one is affected, the other sympathizes. The condition of the mind affects the health to a far greater degree than many realize. Many of the diseases from which we suffer are the result of mental depression. Grief, anxiety, discontent, remorse, guilt, distrust, all tend to break down the life forces and to invite decay and death." Ministry of Healing pg. 97

Before we can become healthy and experience true wellness we must give and attain forgiveness in our lives. What is forgiveness and how does the lack of it effect our bodies?

Our HEALTH class hosted a powerful "Forgive to Live" 3-part seminar presented by Don Mackintosh. What is forgiveness? The audience shared a range of definitions: 1.) an imperative step to healing and letting go which then brings about change and becomes less toxic, potentially dissolving bitterness completely. 2.) Releasing others from the consequences we'd like to give them.

Life isn't fair and this is why we need forgiveness. Anger, resentment, bitterness, blame, critical and cynical attitudes are just a few offsprings of an unforgiving spirit. There are serious health consequences to these emotions. Look at this list of goodies that prolonged anger causes: Increased cortisol, increased adrenaline, raised heart rate, intensified breathing rate, higher blood pressure, increase in blood glucose levels, more fat in the blood, frequent headaches, insomnia, high anxiety, depression, eczema, heart attacks, digestion problems, stroke, skin issues, and lack of purpose in life...just to name a few. The lack of forgiveness torments us with diseases.

When you do not forgive someone who has wronged you it is like handcuffing yourself to that person and dragging them with you wherever you go. Whereas the benefits of forgiveness are: healthier relationships, greater spiritual and psychological well-being, lower blood pressure, lower risk of substance abuse, less anxiety, stress, and hostility, better sleep, purpose in life restored...and so much more! It makes sense, the greater reduction in your anger, the greater reduction in your blood pressure!

If you're unforgiving, you might pay the price repeatedly by bringing anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience. Your life might become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can't enjoy the present. You might become depressed or anxious. You might feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you're at odds with your spiritual beliefs. You might lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others.

The Bible provides us with many characteristics of forgiveness:

Resisting revenge - Romans 12:19

Not returning evil for evil - 1 Thess. 5:15

Bless those who curse you - Luke 6:28

Grieving at their calamities - Proverbs 24:17

Praying for them - Matthew 5:44

Seeking reconciliation - Romans 12:18

Coming to their aid - Exodus 23:4

Forgiving from the heart - Matthew 18:35

God's Word also shares what forgiveness is not:

It is not the absence of anger - Psalms 109

It is not the absence of consequences - Hebrews 8:12, 12:6, 10

If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14, 15, NRSV.

Those are serious words with serious consequences. Who do you need to forgive today for your own well-being? Let your mind and body heal by letting the bitterness and anger go. Uncuff yourself and choose the freedom in forgiveness.