“DURING MY CHILDHOOD, I HEARD A LOT OF INSULTS AND SCREAMING,” said a woman named Patricia. “I did not learn to forgive. Even as an adult, I would dwell on an offense for days, losing sleep.” Yes, a life filled with anger and resentment is neither a happy one nor a healthy one. Indeed, studies show that unforgiving people may . . .
Let anger or bitterness sour relationships, leading to isolation and loneliness
Become easily offended, anxious, or even severely depressed
Become so focused on a wrong that they cannot enjoy life
Feel that they are at odds with their spiritual values
Experience increased stress and a higher risk of ill health, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and pain disorders, such as arthritis and headaches *
WHAT IS FORGIVENESS? Forgiveness means pardoning an offender and letting go of anger, resentment, and thoughts of revenge. It does not mean condoning a wrong, minimizing it, or pretending that it did not happen. Rather, forgiveness is a well-thought-out personal choice that reflects a loving commitment to peace and to building or maintaining a good relationship with the other person.
Forgiveness also reflects understanding. A forgiving person understands that we all err, or sin, in word and deed. (Romans 3:23) Reflecting such insight, the Bible says: “Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely even if anyone has a cause for complaint against another.”—Colossians 3:13.
It stands to reason, then, that forgiveness is an important facet of love, which is “a perfect bond of union.” (Colossians 3:14) Indeed, according to the Mayo Clinic website, forgiveness leads to . . .
Healthier relationships, including feelings of empathy, understanding, and compassion for the offender
Improved mental and spiritual well-being
Less anxiety, stress, and hostility
Fewer symptoms of depression
FORGIVE YOURSELF. Self-forgiveness can be “the most difficult to achieve,” yet “the most important to health”—mental and physical—according to the journal Disability & Rehabilitation. What can help you to forgive yourself?
Do not expect perfection from yourself, but realistically accept that you—like all of us—will make mistakes.—Ecclesiastes 7:20
Learn from your errors so that you will be less likely to repeat them
Be patient with yourself; some personality flaws and bad habits may not go away overnight.—Ephesians 4:23, 24
Associate with friends who are encouraging, positive, and kind but who will also be honest with you.—Proverbs 13:20
If you hurt someone, take responsibility for it and be quick to apologize. When you make peace, you will gain inner peace.—Matthew 5:23, 24
BIBLE PRINCIPLES REALLY WORK!
After studying the Bible, Patricia, quoted at the outset, learned to forgive. “I feel liberated from the anger that poisoned my life,” she wrote. “I no longer suffer, and I don’t make others suffer. Bible principles confirm that God loves us and wants the best for us.”
A man named Ron said: “I could not control the thoughts and actions of others. But I could control my own. If I wanted peace, I had to let go of resentment. I began to view peace and resentment as north and south. I could not be in both places at the same time. I now have a good conscience.”
^ par. 8 Sources: Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins Medicine websites and the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.
THE WATCHTOWER—STUDY EDITION
To forgive a hurtful act by your spouse, must you minimize it or even pretend that it never occurred?