But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15
But don’t we have to ask God for forgiveness first and THEN God forgives us? Why should we forgive people who do not ask for forgiveness?
Has it ever happened to you that you get over something someone does to you, but at the mention of their name your mumble something under your breath? Or roll your eyes when you see their picture? Or suck your teeth when you think of them?
It just so happens that I did not know I had and still have some unforgiveness in my heart. I am trying to be like Jesus, who while being on the cross asked the father to forgive the people who rejected and crucified him, because ‘they did not know what they were doing’.
The people who crucified Jesus did not know He was God in the flesh, neither that He was God over all the earth and the savior of the world. But there are people who hurt us knowingly: knowing that they are doing us wrong. We can try to end our relationship with these people, but most of the times the wounds remain. The scars that need to form, can only come from healing, and healing can only come through forgiveness.
It is never easy to forgive someone for doing you wrong. It never comes from a feeling, but it definitely comes because of a need. We need peace, we need to be pain free. And just as our bodies are prone to pain and infection, so is our heart condition. To end the physical pain and the bleeding of the open wounds, we need to stop picking at the scab. And we need to avoid messing with it because otherwise we may get an infection which will spread the pain and contaminate the surrounding area of the wound. If this is how our bodies are, imagine our hearts!
It has been studied that people who hold grudges lack peace in their lives and in their thinking habits. For people who are resentful, stress levels are higher, sickness and disease, muscle tension and other muscle problems tend to arise. That is amazing, how one decision can rid us of unnecessary suffering.
I have personally lived with enough bitterness to know that unforgiveness affects my physical health, and my emotional well being. When my stress levels are high my body reacts by tensing up. I usually work out and write to cope with my angers issues, because I am constantly finding myself in fight or flight mode, well more like fight! I have learned more recently that it is good to vent, that is to speak out on our feelings and the situation. It is also good to share your situation, because that way you can learn of other people’s state of suffering- and additionally psychologically we learn that suffering is part of life. Other things that have helped me, are reading self help books, blogs, watching TV shows speaking on the particular topic, and for quite some time I have been considering speaking to a health professional.
Recently as I read a Dale Carnegie book, I tried something he mentioned in the book which is to never say anything negative about anyone- but if you must write it out and toss the paper. If it fits you, try to write a letter to the offender, or vent out to God. I find that if I speak to others I end up gossiping and speaking badly of people, which God does not find pleasure in; so eventhough this is normal for most people I try to avoid this route. This does not help our heart issues.
I found this quote from a medical professional: “I tell my patients, take care of this bitterness now, or in five years it will haunt you in the form of chronic headaches, fatigue, arthritis, and backaches.”
My role model Maya Angelou, taught me something very valuable- and it is that when someone does us wrong it is because of them- not because of us. They do not know how to be different, and we should feel sorry for them instead of feeling angry. I try to apply this principle to my life, even though it can be very challenging for me. I believe very strongly in choices, and self control so I do not believe people make mistakes, because I believe people are intentional. This way of thinking justifies my anger- but when you stop to consider that maybe these people are just mentally challenged or have other heart issues, it becomes easier to manage.
Consequences ( extracted from http://iblp.org/questions/what-consequences-occur-when-i-dont-forgive-offender)
Resentment causes imbalance in the hormones from the various glands of the body, producing many physical symptoms and diseases.
Weakened immune system
The stress of bitterness weakens the immune system and heightens your susceptibility to physical ailments. Often doctors can trace physical disorders to a point in time when bitterness began to develop.
Refusal to forgive causes fatigue and loss of sleep. Soon your eyes and facial features reflect your inner distress.
It takes emotional energy to maintain a grudge. When your emotional energy is exhausted, you become depressed.
Hating someone produces stress hormones in your body. You become worn out and unable to cope with daily challenges.
God I simply ask for a renewed heart in all of us who find it a challenge to forgive others, when you forgive us you do not ask if we are intentional in our sin, you do not ask anything really. Help us to forgive our offenders in the same way that we are forgiven by you. May you heal our hearts from passing this on to our loved ones. Rid us of bitterness and mistrust, from keeping our guard up and even of hurting others in our present and future relationships, may we be made whole. Give us stronger minds and a more passive heart that we may love more than hurt, and forgive more than we demand. In the name of Jesus, I truly present our hearts to you Lord, Amen.