Last week we heard about anger and what kinds are healthy and those that are unhealthy. To recap, healthy anger is:
- A response when you are threatened or opposed
- A protective emotion
- Powerful energy that can be used for positive outcomes
- Fuel for effective action
But if you remember, I said that although anger was a valid emotion, but we shouldn’t wallow in it.
Anger has to be acknowledged and released before we can move on to forgiveness. Forgiveness has to be fully embraced before we can let go of resentments and be emotionally whole and free.
Forgiveness is God’s antidote for bitterness, resentment and anger. Forgiveness also is a key to solving problems in communication, arguing, back-biting, sniping at each other. Forgiveness is a essential to overcome hurt feelings, guilt and depression.
People tend to be like pressure cookers. As hurt feelings are stuffed inside, the pressure inside builds up. If the resentment and anger are not released the pressure will continue to increase until there is one big explosion!
We are instructed by Jesus to forgive the source of our hurt so that we can move on with our lives.
True forgiveness is something that only your body can do.
Surprised by that?
Here’s the deal. Anger and resentments are held in the body as well as the mind. Your mind can decide to forgive long before your body is ready. Literally, your body has a mind of its own.
Can you think of any time the your head and mouth said you forgave someone, but there was that knot in your stomach that didn’t seem to go away?
Here are some things to understand about your forgiveness:
- Forgiveness is not just a decision that you can make in your mind
- Your body is capable of holding onto anger long after your mind thinks it has forgiven
- You won’t be able to forgive until you have acknowledged the full depths of your anger
Forgiveness is for you, it allows you to be more loving and joyful. You need to forgive because it is good for you. While you are still angry, you are still connected to the person that hurt you; they have their
hooks in you and can continue to hurt you. And wallowing in the anger can actually make you physically ill.
I know when I am angry with someone, I feel terrible and usually am jumpy and have an upset stomach. It isn’t until I really let go of that anger that I begin to feel like myself again.
You will know that you have forgiven if you don’t feel that knot in your stomach when you encounter the person who hurt you. When you can say,
- “I accept you for who you are, with all of your warts. I no longer need you to change. I forgive you for myself, so that I can be free. I forgive you so that I can let go of resentments and feel love and joy in my heart, mind and body.”
Here are some other things to remember about forgiveness:
- Forgiveness does not absolve the wrongdoer
- Withholding forgiveness does not hold the wrongdoer accountable
- Forgiving doesn’t mean you have decided that what the wrongdoer did is okay
- You don’t have to wait for the wrongdoer to change for you to forgive
So we all need to forgive for ourselves. . . for our health . . and for our happiness
Let us pray:
Dear Lord, help me to clear my heart and mind by forgiving those who have harmed me. Let me see them, not for what they have done to me, but as the same child of God that I am. Help me to forgive them as you have always forgiven me. Help me restore a sense of peace and love to my heart. I ask this for the sake of your love. Amen.
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH, 20 February 2011