A lack of forgiveness can put major stress on our bodies as we hold onto emotional energy of anger, bitterness, resentment, etc. surrounding the “ugly offense” committed against us. This emotional energy affects our body, mind and spirit. Our Doctors are beginning to understand the connection. If you check the websites for many of the major hospitals you will find a wealth of information about forgiveness.
I was introduced to the healing power of forgiveness when I took a class called Redemptive Healing at my church. We used Jan McCray’s book, “Your Redemptive Healing” as our guide. The chapter on forgiveness was huge in helping me to heal and move forward from two marriages to alcoholics.
I went on to teach Redemptive Healing and have done so for the last 10 years. It has been amazing to watch what happens when people let go of the negative emotions and energy attached to non forgiveness and move beyond the event embracing the joy of moving forward with their life.
After 10 years of working with Jan’s book I no longer know which words are hers and which are mine. She’s given me complete permission to use her book for this blog. I take complete credit for anything that is said in error.
The act of forgiveness is a conscious decision. Often people don’t forgive the offender for a variety of reasons:
• They are waiting until it feels like it’s time to pardon the offender.
• They are waiting for the offender to ask to be forgiven.
• They are waiting until the offender has earned the right to be forgiven.
• They are getting satisfaction from refusing to forgive. This can make us feel powerful, like we’re in charge, or even that we are protecting ourselves.
None of these reasons have any benefit for us or our health. We are slowly breaking down our body, mind and spirit by holding on to all this negativity. We need to forgive in order to start the healing process by moving forward from this offense.
Forgiving is not condoning. Please believe I’m not suggesting you go there.
Forgiving and forgetting are 2 entirely different things. Often people assume that forgiving will erase the memory of the event. Instead it opens up the memory and releases the toxic energy of it so that healing can take place.
Forgiveness is a personal decision. There is no need to share your act of forgiveness with the other person, especially if they are no longer in your life. If you have a need to verbalize your act of forgiveness, write a letter to them but don’t mail it. Destroy it. In her book Jan suggests we express the hurt, pain, anger, and betrayal we have felt. Include the fact that you are choosing to forgive and why you are doing so. This exercise can help free the pain from your subconscious and help release you from the handcuff that has tied you to the offender and the act that harmed you.
If you feel a strong need for reconciliation with the other person realize that sharing forgiveness is always a risk and it may not go the way you expect. Check your motive before you act. We sometimes want to share our forgiveness with the offender to make them feel guilty or to make ourselves look righteous. That’s not what forgiveness is about. It’s easy to fool ourselves……be certain your intentions are coming from a good place, not a place of causing pain or harm.
I recommend you test your forgiveness. If, after forgiving the one who wounded you, can you sincerely pray for them? If so, you have begun your healing journey. Congratulations! If not, if your anger and hatred are still too strong to be able to wish them well, it may be likely you have been unable to completely forgive them and let them go. Work at it until you get there. Withholding forgiveness can cause sleepless nights, unsettled thoughts, depression, and stress-related diseases.
Holding on to resentment and hate never changes the one who harmed us – it instead works at destroying us. Stop this process and choose to work toward forgiving NOW. Stop the bitterness that has been growing and festering inside of you since the event took place. Choose instead to heal your mind, your body and your spirit.
When I forgive someone I express my forgiveness out loud in prayer. If prayer is not your thing, however you choose to express forgiveness will work as long as you have a sincere intent to forgive, to release yourself from the person and the event, and to move forward with your life.
The following are the steps that have worked for me:
• I forgive __________ for __________. (I list everything that comes to mind.)
• I release __________ from the judgment I have held against him/her and I release myself from the reciprocal judgment. (The energy of my judgment toward them opens a door for their judgment energy to come back to me. I use this phrase to eliminate any negative energy coming toward me from them.)
• Lord I ask you to please forgive me for the bitterness, anger, hate, resentment and judgment I have held for __________.
• I do not want to hold onto guilt or feeling unworthy for my thoughts and/or actions about this. I forgive myself for __________.
• I pray that __________ may have a life of peace and joy. Amen.
I have found that when I get to the end of the prayer and sincerely pray for the other person it’s almost as if I can feel the release happening emotionally and physically. It’s also been very powerful to have chosen to forgive someone in MY time rather than waiting for them.
I would like to suggest that if walking through the act of forgiveness is feeling a bit intimidating or overwhelming, especially if the “ugly” offense has incredibly strong emotions and memories tied to it, please consider working it through with a counselor or someone you trust. It has been very comforting to me to be surrounded by the people in my group at Church as we work through this together – each of us on our own journey but all of us there to support each other. Perhaps there is someone who would want to work on their forgiveness concerns while you work on yours.
As always, if you have any questions about this, please feel free to reach out to me by using the “Contact” tab on my website. I would also love to hear about your forgiveness journey.
I pray God blesses you and gives you peace.
(If you would like a copy of Jan McCray’s Book “Your Redemptive Healing”, please contact me for her information.)