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  7. The Power That Heals

"Forgiveness is the
Power That Heals"

(Includes excerpts from "Forgiveness, the Power That Heals" by Dick Innes)                                      Reading time: 10 min 50 sec

Some years ago, during a visit to Yellowstone Park, one writer observed that the only animal that the grizzly bear would share his food with was a skunk.

It wasn't that the grizzly wanted to share his food but rather that he chose to do so. With one swing of his powerful paw, he could have crushed the skunk, but he knew the high cost of getting even. Clever bear! Undoubtedly he learned the hard way. Strange that we humans often aren't as bright.

Sometimes we carry grudges for years, often repressing them from conscious memory, and end up hurting ourselves more than the ones we would like to get even with.

We fail to see how damaging an unforgiving spirit is.
Physicians and counsellors alike attest to the damage done by failing to forgive. Counsellors see the roots of bitterness reflected in depression, anxiety, and destroyed relationships.

Some medical doctors estimate that most illnesses they treat are related to emotional problems such as resentment, which is a lack of forgiveness.

I read one report of an astonished patient who was told by his doctor: "If you don't cut out your resentments, I may have to cut out a part of your intestinal tract."
Fortunately, the man took the doctor's advice.

He had been nursing a bitter grudge against a former business partner. He went to see this man, resolved their differences, and forgave him. When he returned to the doctor, his physical condition had cleared up.

Not to forgive is to be imprisoned by the past.
That advice isn't new, of course. The greatest physician who ever lived, Jesus Christ, pointed out 2,000 years ago the importance of forgiveness.

When he encouraged us to "forgive seventy-seven times," he was thinking of our emotional and physical well-being as much as our spiritual.

In his book, None of These Diseases, Dr S. I. McMillen reported that a forgiving spirit could save us from "ulcerative colitis, toxic goitres, high blood pressure, and scores of other diseases", including ulcers, asthma, arthritis, neuro-dermatitis, and heart ailments—all possible effects of resentment.

Free From the Past

The psychological case for forgiveness is overwhelmingly persuasive. Not forgiving is to be imprisoned by the past and old grievances that do not permit life to proceed with new business.

"Not to forgive is to yield oneself to another's control. If one does not forgive, then one is controlled by the other's initiatives and locked into a sequence of acts and responses, outrage and revenge, tit for tat, escalating continually.

The present is endlessly overwhelmed and devoured by the past." But to forgive is to be free from the past.

Jesus Christ pointed out another disturbing truth about an unforgiving spirit when he said, "If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."

I believe Christ meant that an unforgiving spirit on my part is a sure sign that I haven't truly shown remorse to God for all my failures nor experienced His forgiveness fully.

Furthermore, an unforgiving attitude is destructive to personal relationships. It goes without saying that many close relationships, especially marriage relationships, are destroyed not so much by what has been done but by what hasn't been done—forgiving one another.

Wherever I fail to forgive another, a wall of resentment builds between us, and eventually, we become estranged. But once I forgive, feelings of love can be restored if appropriate.

I say "if that is appropriate" because there are times, such as in cases of abuse or a lack of repentance, when forgiveness should not lead to restoration of the relationship.

Resentments

However, forgiveness needs to be genuine and not just a religious or sentimental act because it is "the right thing to do." If our forgiveness isn't genuine, resentment will poke its ugly head out at the most unexpected times—like when a couple gets into an argument and starts dragging up past events that they still resent.

Obviously, those things haven't been forgiven. Forgiveness may not forget the past, but it can bury it.
Forgiveness can be very difficult if we have been hurt deeply, but how do we forgive someone when he doesn't even feel he has wronged us?

According to one author, Susan Jacoby, we can't. She feels that "real forgiveness cannot take place without an acknowledgement of wrongdoing on the part of the person who is chiefly responsible for causing pain."
If this is so, some of us will carry grudges for a long, long time.

True, a person acknowledging his wrongdoing makes forgiveness easier, but when he doesn't, which is often the case, forgiveness becomes a choice. We can choose to forgive or not to forgive.

We need to realize, however, that forgiveness is essential, perhaps not so much for the wrong that has happened to us but because of our resentment toward the one who has wronged us.

Lack of forgiveness is caused by this resentment—a mixture of hurt and anger. Therefore, to forgive genuinely, one must face and deal with his hurt and anger.

To resolve our hurt and anger, we need to be totally honest and admit exactly how we feel. Then we need to get these feelings off our chest-not by lashing out and hurting the other person, but by "speaking the truth in love "4 or by writing out our feelings until they are completely dissipated.

To forgive another, however, is not to ignore justice. Violent/hurtful people should be referred to the Law. Likely they are holding onto hurts they need help with. Where we want others to forgive us, if we are genuine, we will want to do all in our power to make a just restitution.

When God forgives us, he does so based on his justice and love. His justice required a just sentence and confirmed death as the penalty or price of man's sin.

But His love paid that price when he gave his Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place as the just retribution for our sins and wrongs. Therefore, God can freely forgive us and not in any way violate his divine justice.

The important thing is that we respond to God's love and forgiveness by acknowledging our sins and wrongdoing and accepting his free pardon. And then, in appreciation to God for his forgiveness of us, let us freely forgive others as we have been so freely forgiven. Forgiveness frees and heals the forgiver. Have you been freed?

For further help, read "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian" at: http://tinyurl.com/real-christian 1. Time, Jan. 9, 1984. 2. Matthew 6:14-15, (NIV). 3. McCall's, 1983. 4. Ephesians 4:15. 5. Colossians 3:12-13.
Go to

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/forgiveness/MH00131 for a guide to forgiving.

We live in a very troubled, hurting and hurtful world …. So ….
Matt 6:14 -15 For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and wilful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and wilful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.

Letting Go

Letting go of grudges and bitterness
Based on the findings and evaluation by Mayo Clinic Staff, Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.

Forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting or excusing the harm done to you or making up with the person who caused the harm. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life. (You will also need to forgive yourself for "silly things" you do or have done.)

When someone you care about hurts you, rather than hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge, embrace forgiveness and move forward.
By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy.

Forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being as forgiveness "cuts the spiritual tie" between you and the hurtful actions or words of another.

Maybe there has been criticism by a parent as you were growing up, a colleague sabotaged a project, or your partner had an affair. Or perhaps you've had a traumatic experience, such as being physically or emotionally abused by someone close to you.

These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger and bitterness — even vengeance …but if you don't practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly.

What is forgiveness?

Forgiveness means different things to different people. Generally, however, it involves a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge ….. so share this report with family, friends, and others … all can benefit.

The act that hurt or offended you might always be with you, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help free you from the control of the person who harmed you. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.

What are the benefits of forgiving someone (Including yourself)? Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for improved health and peace of mind. Forgiveness is the power that heals and can lead to:

  • Healthier relationships (stop domestic violence)
  • Improved self-esteem (build self-confidence, and overcome negativity)
  • Greater spiritual and psychological well-being.
  • Improved mental health (reduce stress, self-focus)
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Fewer symptoms of depression (3 million + suffer in Aust./8 a day die)
  • Lower blood pressure (very prevalent in Aust.)
  • Improved heart health (Many sufferers in Aust.)
  • A stronger immune system (against Covid-19, viruses, colds, flu, etc.)
  • Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse (as self-esteem etc., improve)

Why is it so easy to hold a grudge?
Being hurt by someone, particularly someone you love and trust, can cause anger, sadness and confusion. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root.

If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might be swallowed up by bitterness or a sense of injustice.

Some people are naturally more forgiving than others. But even if you're a grudge holder, anyone can learn to be more forgiving

What are the effects of holding a grudge?
If you're unforgiving, you might:
Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience
Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can't enjoy the present
Become depressed or anxious
Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose or that you're at odds with your spiritual beliefs.
Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others

How do I reach a state of forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a commitment to a personalized process of change. To move from suffering to forgiveness, you need to:

The Value of Forgiveness

Recognize the value of forgiveness and how it can improve your life
Identify what needs healing, who needs forgiveness, and for what …BVM – have a pad and pen ready, look up and ask, "Who, including myself, do I need to forgive?"

Consider joining a support group or seeing a counsellor.
Acknowledge your emotions and the harm done to you and how they affect your behaviour, and understand that forgiveness will overcome that.

Choose to forgive the person who offended you.
Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life.

As you let go of grudges, you'll no longer define your life by how you've been hurt. You might even find compassion and understanding.

What happens if I can't forgive someone?
Forgiveness can be challenging, especially if the person who's hurt you doesn't admit wrong. If you find it difficult to forgive:

Practice empathy. Try seeing the situation from the other person's point of view.
Ask yourself why he or she would behave in such a way. You may have reacted similarly if you faced the same situation. (Usually, they have others they need to forgive.)
Reflect on times you've hurt others and on those who've forgiven you.

Write in a journal, pray or use guided meditation — or talk with a person you've found to be wise and compassionate, such as a spiritual leader, a mental health provider, or an impartial loved one or friend.

Be aware that forgiveness is a process, and even small hurts may need to be revisited and forgiven over and over again, plus ongoing in our hurting and hurtful world.

Does forgiveness guarantee reconciliation?
Forgiveness can lead to reconciliation if the hurtful event involves someone whose relationship you otherwise value; this isn't always the case, however, so share this report with them.

Reconciliation might be impossible if the offender has died or is unwilling to communicate with you. In other cases, reconciliation might not be appropriate. Still, forgiveness is possible — even if reconciliation isn't.

What if the person I'm forgiving doesn't change?
Getting another person to change his or her actions, behaviour, or words isn't the point of forgiveness.

Think of forgiveness more about how it can change your life — by bringing you peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing. Forgiveness can take away the power the other person continues to wield in your life.

What if I'm the one who needs forgiveness?
The first step is to honestly assess and acknowledge the wrongs you've done and how they have affected others. Avoid judging yourself too harshly – forgive yourself and enjoy a better future.

If you're genuinely sorry for something you've said or done, consider admitting it to those you've harmed. Speak of your sincere sorrow or regret and ask for forgiveness — without making excuses.

Remember, however, you can't force someone to forgive you. Others need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Whatever happens, commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect.

Unforgiveness is like having a sore foot whenever you wear shoes; then you discover a pebble in your shoe and throw it away … pebble is gone, and the pain stops.

Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness - Mayo Clinic www.mayoclinic.org › forgiveness › art-20047

Forgiveness is defined as letting go of past grudges or lingering anger against a person or persons (including yourself). When you are mad at someone but accept his apology and are no longer angry, this is an example of forgiveness. Forgiving or being forgiven. ... 

The Power that Heals

The weak can never forgive.
Forgiveness is the power that heals. To forgive quickly in this hurting world will mean a far happier and more contented life.

On a daily basis, study what leads us to grow spiritually and improve our behaviour and focus on other positive parts of your life. Consider broadening your view of the world.

Forgiveness doesn't mean that you deny the other person's responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn't minimize or justify the wrong, or they don't mention his or her sorrow. You can forgive the person without excusing the act.

Reflect on the facts of the situation, how you've reacted, and how this combination has affected your life, health and well-being.

If you have yet to reach a state of forgiveness, it will mean being tense and stressful when you are near the person who hurt you, or you can choose to attend or avoid specific functions and gatherings.

Respect yourself and do what seems best. If you decide to attend, don't be surprised by a certain amount of awkwardness and perhaps even more intense feelings.

Do your best to keep an open heart and mind. Forgiving quickly after being wronged, you will eliminate these stressful situations.



http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/forgiveness/MH00131

I learnt about forgiveness and applied it in early 1992, over 31 years ago, and have not had even a headache or a cold, nor do I need spectacles (I am 78 years young)

To learn what an amazing body we have, go on the web to The Seal of God in creation – E.R. Finck.

Prepared by Brian, McMichan

Queensland, Australia.


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