The Freedom of Forgiveness Part 1
I don’t know what hurt, anger, wounds, or resentment you carry around. I don’t know if they are issues you have worked through or problems you’ve not even fully acknowledged. I don’t know if they are buried deep inside or if they lay heavy on the surface. But I know there is a good chance you’ve got some.
If you have dealt with your wounds, wonderful! I’m not looking to bring them back to life. Instead I am interested in all of the kinds of stuff that hangs around when we hang on to the hurt. The stuff Paul says we should get rid of in Ephesians 4:31–all the bitterness, rage, and anger, all the things that make us scream and curse those around us, all the smoldering resentment. I want us to get real about all the unresolved issues from past hurt that is presently hurting you.
Research repeatedly shows that holding onto resentment and holding back forgiveness hurts you—mentally, emotionally, and even physically. Holding onto resentment and grudges leads to increased sadness and severe depression. Those who withhold forgiveness and are chronically angry stay in a fight-or-flight mode, which can have effects on blood pressure, heart rate, and sleep.
The reverse is also true. Forgiveness is good for you. Researchers found that forgiveness leads to decreased stress, tension, anxiety, anger, depression and fatigue. It contributes to better sleep and reduced pain. It lowers blood pressure and the risk of heart attack. It improves cholesterol.
Forgiveness is not always easy by any means. It takes time, work, prayer, and staying grounded in the story of Christ’s life-changing mercy to us. But here’s some good news. As is so often the case, the forgiveness that is good for the soul is good for the whole.