By, Toni Smothers
We are prideful people who tend to strike back at whoever, or whatever wrongs us - There is this immediate, primeval reaction that wells up within, compelling an angry desire to retaliate. If the opportunity to vent those hurt feelings doesn't readily present itself, we often internalize, stroke and nurture the anger. Feeding our grudges, enlarging them as we go, while a weird comfort evolves. It insipidly steals our sense of joy and hope as they are swallowed up by the ever expanding snowball of our perceived injustice. That indignation constantly drains our mental and physical health. It is even more difficult to reconcile this vindictive thinking with the law of love that a Christian is accountable to - Not to mention, showing any semblance of walking with Christ as our example.
Resentment, lack of forgiveness, righteous pride, are all totally detrimental to your well-being - And they are a definite decision. Whether you are aware of it, or not, you do choose these harmful reactions. So, it follows that you are just as capable of disowning your anger. There is scientific data confirming the power in trading resentment for forgiveness: “The Law of Forgiveness,” written by Connie Domino, discusses that evidence. Her book offers some very convincing ideas that draw on the benefits in releasing the hold that the lack of forgiveness can have on a person. There is positive energy in reconciliation.
Psychologist, Everett L. Worthington, Jr. Ph.D., began his study of forgiveness during the 1980s. In 1995, his mother was murdered. From that tragedy, coupled with his studies, Dr. Worthington experienced forgiveness in his own heart. Having learned and grown from that struggle with grief, he began speaking and writing about forgiveness. He was intent on sharing with others the healing that forgiveness facilitates.
Those suffering from loss of loved ones due to war, often cling to their desire for revenge. Even though those reactions are understandable, they only serve to make their victims bitter and miserably unhappy. The director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project, Dr. Fred Luskin, worked with people who dealt with the death of their loved ones killed in the war in Northern Ireland. Those who managed to embrace forgiveness over the alternative of overwhelming vindictiveness, were freed to live more hopeful lives.
Besides regaining the love God wants for us in our lives, there are real, obvious, physical benefits realized from releasing the desire for vengeance. Lowered blood pressure and heart rate, as well as the return of normal digestion, are only some of the rewards achieved when anger and resentment are dispelled. The effects of lessened stress are also well known. Emotional and physical well-being is a persuasive enticement when compared to the internal disharmony created by nurturing bitter wounds. Other studies from the Universities of Wisconsin and Tennessee concur that improved health can be attributed to the ability to forgive.
Additionally, Katherine Piderman, PhD., staff chaplain at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., advises those she councils that forgiveness can lead them down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. The single best remedy to overcome anger is the unparalleled power of forgiveness. That is not to say that forgiveness takes away a perpetrator’s accountability for his behavior. And it doesn’t mean that you are saying that what was done is somehow permissible. Forgiveness aims at restoring balance to your life. It is much more for you than for the person who invoked your hostility.
"Not to forgive is to be imprisoned by the past, by old grievances that do not permit life to proceed with new business. Not to forgive is to yield oneself to anther's control... to be locked into a sequence of act and response, of outrage and revenge, tit for tat, escalating always. The present is endlessly overwhelmed and devoured by the past. Forgiveness frees the forgiver. It extracts the forgiver from someone else's nightmare." - Lance Morrow
Let go of your victim status and refuse to define your life by your wounds. Get outside help if you need to, but realize that there is a whole world out there full of joy and fulfillment. There is more than enough to go around. Choose forgiveness and give yourself a break.