Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:13)
As we move further into Advent, we are called to make new beginnings. One of those new beginnings is to lighten the load in our soul. Gustavo Razzetti writes a challenging article, “Forgiving Is Hard, but Not Forgiving Hurts More.” In this article, Razzetti points out, “Science shows that forgiving is good for your health.” Too often, we feel as if forgiveness is a way to let the perpetrator off the hook. No, forgiveness is the way to let their bad actions off the hook within our soul, and once unhooked by forgiveness, our soul becomes instantly lighter.
Paul Boese states, “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” We forgive, not for the benefit of the other person nearly as much as we do for ourselves. The necessity for forgiveness is again found in science. Razzetti found, “From 1998 to 2005 the number of empirical studies on the topic [of forgiveness] have increased from 58 to 950.” This shows that even within the scientific community, forgiveness is central to a meaningful life.
These scientific studies confirm that “Holding a serious grudge raises our blood pressure and increases our chances of a heart attack. Unforgiveness intensifies mental problems, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorders.” Even the scientific community has proven that forgiveness is an activity for oneself, not primarily for the other person.
Today, pray for God to dive directly into our souls and clean out the anger, resentment, and bitterness. Ask God to help us forgive those who have hurt us deeply. With God’s assistance, forgiveness will be a reality. By remembering that doing so, doesn’t let the other person off the hook, but lightens our load, gives us permission to forgive without feeling weak. Say that prayer today and start walking with a lighter bounce in your step.