This past weekend, I had the awesome opportunity to connect with a group of people who all shared a similar goal in life – they wanted to serve and build up others through their love for God.
Through talking about the different struggles we faced, we all agreed that living positively was sometimes very difficult. With so much negativity and personal struggles zapping our energy, being that a of encouragement and love could sometimes be…tiring.
As we continued to discuss different ways we could be more motivated to serve others, the topic of forgiveness came up.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but seeing the word “forgiveness”, makes me automatically think of work. It’s something that requires a HUGE amount of strength, courage and faith. On days when I’m struggling, it can even almost take on a negative connotation in my mind.
Has this happened to anyone else? I know with me, forgiveness is something that I definitely struggle with. Especially if it’s someone who hurt me deeply. It’s easy to hang on to hurt feelings and let bitterness fester – sometimes even unconsciously.
The more I thought about it and discussed it this past weekend, though, the more I realized how incredibly powerful forgiveness is. No matter what your beliefs are, it has the ability to affect your health for the good…or bad.
Learning how to forgive and forget is far from easy. However, it does hold numerous benefits – both for your mental and physical health. Keep reading for my thoughts on why.
How to Forgive and Forget – from a Christian Viewpoint
Before going any further, I want anyone reading to know that even though I’m writing this article from a Christian’s viewpoint, you don’t have to be religious to be able to forgive someone.
Is it tough? Duh. Forgiveness is tough for everyone – no matter what you believe.
But is it doable? Absolutely.
Learning how to forgive and forget takes humility, courage and TONS of work. However, many people forget that it actually improves their health in the process.
Four Ways Forgiveness Improves Physical Health
1. It Improves Your Mental Health
Forgiving someone who’s hurt or wronged you is proven to lower stress levels. By letting go of resentment, your brain is snapped out of that chronic angry mindset. It allows your hormones to balance out by reducing the continuous surge of cortisol and adrenaline that’s so detrimental to your happiness.
Are you battling depression? Try forgiving whoever did you wrong. I know it may seem counter-intuitive, but the science behind it is too conclusive to ignore.
2. It Lowers Blood Pressure
Learning how to forgive and forget is also proven to lower blood pressure. This may not come as a shock to you, however getting angry and upset naturally raises your blood pressure. When you hold a grudge – especially over long periods of time – it can lead to chronic high blood pressure.
Practicing forgiveness on a day-to-day basis helps ensure that your heart health remains solid. Because no one wants to be stressed AND unhealthy, right?
3. It Improves Personal Happiness
Forgiveness and happiness go hand in hand in Christianity. The whole concept revolves around Christ’s love for us. The fact that he died for all of humanity so we could have forgiveness frees us from all the burdens weighing us down in life.
By forgiving us of all the mistakes we make, God tells us to do the same thing for other people. By doing this, we’re given freedom from the consequences of holding onto that grudge: bitterness, unhappiness, anger, and chaos.
Even if you don’t agree with my viewpoint, simply knowing that forgiveness gives you peace of mind is hugely beneficial. By letting go of your anger, it takes an enormous load off your shoulder.
4. It Saves Relationships
Another benefit of forgiveness is its power to mend broken relationships. This could be a relationship with a friend, a spouse or a family member. No matter who it is, though, forgiveness has the power to bring you closer to that person.
In struggling marriages, this is often the saving factor. You see, overtime it can be very easy to allow your partner’s actions to hurt you. Even if they aren’t doing something to specifically tear you down, it can oftentimes seem like they are. If these hurt feelings are allowed to fester, it can turn into bitterness and anger very quickly.
This is where communication and forgiveness can save your relationship. By talking about what hurts you and seeing the good in that other person’s heart, you have the potential to turn things around for the better.
Even though each situation is different, trying to express more grace and forgiveness toward your girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse holds numerous benefits. It may not be immediate, but extending more grace toward them may cause them to treat you better.
Almost always, it fosters a greater love toward each other.
How to Forgive When It Seems Impossible
One thing that’s made me think much deeper about this lately is the question – HOW? How is it possible to truly forgive someone when you’ve been hurt deeply?
For me, it’s easy to say “I forgive you”. However deep down, the real struggle is truly letting go of what that person did.
If you have 21 minutes to spare, this video of Sammy Rangel is truly inspiring. Even if you don’t have time to watch it now, bookmark it so you can watch it later. His life was nothing but hardship after hardship, however it’s amazing how he learned how to forgive.
What about Forgetting?
What’s probably even harder than forgiving is learning how to forget. I say this from personal experience, because this has seemed impossible all my life.
You may be wondering, is it really possible to forget someone’s hurtful actions against you?
As human beings, this is a tough subject. Period. Even though I’ve never been able to fully forget some of the particularly mean things people have said or done to me in the past, I’ve realized something.
If you can’t forget what someone did to you, pray for them instead
For me, the very act of praying for good things to happen to that person changes my mindset. Over time, it starts to change my viewpoint of them and what they did to me.
Does it completely wipe that slate clean? No. But does it help me come to peace with what that person did? Absolutely.
You see, praying for people who have hurt you is a common topic in the Bible. I know it seems bizarre to extend kindness toward your enemy, but this is ultimately what will bring you the most peace and happiness.
What some verses that discuss this topic? Click here.
For those who have been hurt deeply, just remember that forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean completely forgetting what that person did. Instead, it means YOU not holding anything against them, regardless of how they continue to treat you.
For some good insight into what forgiveness is (and isn’t), check out 9 Myths About Forgiveness that Fool the Best Christians
How to Forgive and Forget – Conclusion
Overall, the main point I want to make is that forgiveness is powerful. It not only saves relationships but changes lives also. No one is perfect, however learning how to let go of anger and hatred is an invaluable trait that will transform your life.
I’m constantly working on this. Even though I’ll never be perfect at it, I was truly thankful to have spent time with encouraging people this past weekend. They showed me that you don’t have to be perfect (or act perfect) to live a meaningful life for God.
If more people were willing to forgive and forget, how much different would our lives be? Please feel free to respectfully share any thoughts on this topic below. I’d love to hear your viewpoints on this!