THE NEED TO FORGIVE

Tuesday, 3rd Week of Lent

            Holding on to a grudge has a psychological effect similar to the physical effect we experience when we scratch a mosquito bite. Both ‘scratchings’ provide temporary relief, but in the long run they risk infecting us rather than healing us. (Nil Guillemette) As Albert Haase puts it, “It takes a lot of emotional and psychological energy to keep a wound open, to keep a grudge alive.” “And the more I work to keep it alive, the more emotionally drained I become as the grudge saps me of my strength.” “The longer I allow the wound to fester, or the longer I keep picking its scab, the more bitterness, anger, and self-pity poison my blood and eat my heart.”

            Resentment and unforgiveness can keep us prisoners of the past, alienate our family and friends, remind us and everyone around us of our status as a victim, and block our potential for healing and growth. These effects of resentment explain why Jesus, insists so much on the need to forgive. Those who forgive are really acting in their own best interest. There is one question we should always remember to ask: Who will benefit more from forgiveness? The offended or the offender?

            We may think that forgiveness is associated with weakness, when actually the reverse is true. Forgiveness is not giving in and letting the other person win. But whether the offender deserves forgiveness or not, we certainly deserve to free ourselves from the burden of carrying around the anger and resentment that can ruin our life and our health. The remedy for the resentment that drains our energy and spoils our well-being is not to get even. The remedy is to forgive and move on.

            We forgive when we are able to release all our hurts from our minds and hearts. Psychotherapist Robin Casarjian sees forgiveness as “a relationship with life that frees the forgiver from the psychological bondage of chronic fear, hostility, and anger.” While Dr. Fred Luskin says, “Forgiveness is the feeling of peace that emerges as you take hurt less personally, take responsibility for how you feel, and become a hero instead of a victim in the story you tell.”

            Lent calls us to be more forgiving: to forgive “not seven times but seventy-seven times.” So, decide to forgive, and experience the healing power of forgiveness.

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