Lose weight, exercise more, spend less, make a difference in the world… The typical New Year’s resolutions list for most of us. But to make a real difference to your health, happiness and contribution to society, try adding “Forgive others”, for not only does unforgiveness damage relationships between individuals and inevitably wider family or social groups, science shows that it can also damage our health.
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies” said Nelson Mandela in The Long Walk to Freedom. Scientists are finding this to be true as studies show damaging levels of cortisol are released when individuals think about people they have not forgiven.
God, the designer of our incredible bodies, warns us that our thoughts affect our health, for example in Proverbs 17:22 it says “a joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” God also tells us to forgive because it is necessary for restoration of relationships between people, and between God and ourselves. Jesus said “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” Matthew 6:14. We are all sinners! We all make mistakes and hurt people. “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” C.S Lewis.
Forgiveness means to let go of the hurt and bitterness, and keep doing so when those feelings return. True forgiveness is not just an internal feeling but a decision to actively work to restore relationships. Jesus said to love our enemies and when our “enemies” are within our families and community groups the benefits of doing so are far reaching.
So in 2016 resolve to forgive - for health, happiness, and an improved society. “Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace.” 2 Corinthians 13:11.
Larisa Hockey – Mangapapa Church
Published in the Gisborne Herald on Saturday 9 January.
Larisa, is fascinated by the links between our spiritual state, our mind and our health and is particularly interested in the work of Dr Carolyn Leaf in helping us rewire our brains to overcome toxic thoughts.