C. S. Lewis ventured, “Everyone says that forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive.”
When it comes to the act of forgiving the old saying is true: Some things are easier said than done. When you have been seriously hurt, what once seemed admirable becomes very difficult.
Why is there such emphasis placed on forgiving? Certainly, our culture’s roots in the New Testament and the Christian tradition have a lot to do with it. There are specific physical, mental and spiritual benefits that come with the conscious act of forgiving others.
Not forgiving and holding a grudge can lead to:
- increased blood pressure
- weakened immune system
- greater risk from depression, chronic back pain and even cancer
Even more likely, the resentment from not forgiving can make a person miserable. This simply makes life and their future all the more unbearable.
Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) wrote in Don Quixote de la Mancha, “Let us forget and forgive injuries.” Even Shakespeare in King Lear suggested, “Pray you now, forget and forgive.”
Don’t think it’s necessary to just “forgive and forget”. Don Quixote was not successful at “jousting at windmills” and neither will someone who just forgives and forgets.
Do this this for yourself. Forgive! Free yourself from revenge or retaliation. You don’t have to forget the wrong that has been done to you. You don’t have to be friends with the person that wronged you. It doesn’t mean you must become the victim and remain in a dangerous situation. This is something we do to heal ourselves, freeing us from the pain of bitterness and resentment.
Find someone you can confide in, someone who honors your trust. Speak with them. Just talking about it can help initiate the process. Forgiveness is a process. But, it begins with the decision to move forward. It will take time. Time well spent.