Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been writing about a 35 year old woman who had a very important choice to make.
As a girl, she’d been badly abused by her father. For all of her adult life, she’d been trapped in an emotional prison, which was ultimately causing pain in both her body and her relationships.
After a meeting we had together, the woman did choose to forgive her father and consequently both of them felt an immediate freedom. In this article I’m explaining why forgiving someone promotes health in our souls, bodies and relationships.
When we choose to forgive the offender, and release them from our own desire to punish them (and let the law and ultimately God, make the proper judgment), then we free ourselves from the weight of anger, judgmentalism and desire to get even.
If we choose not to forgive the offending person, we lock him up in an emotional prison; but at the same time we lock ourselves up in an adjoining cell. We are both bound up in an emotional prison as long as the grudge continues. Even if we live thousands of miles apart, do not speak to each other, or if one party dies, the bars on the cell remain locked for the person who does not choose to forgive. Mental, physical and spiritual turmoil are intrinsically wrapped up in the emotional consequences of our choice.
Now say the person who has perpetrated the offense wants to be free from his prison. He has the ability to ask for forgiveness. (Whether the offended person chooses to talk, read his letter or respond in anger is their choice.) When the offender sincerely asks forgiveness, his emotional prison door swings open. He is free to walk out and live in freedom! (Although he may be in a physical prison for his crime, he is emotionally, mentally and spiritually free.) If the offended person responds positively to the guilty party’s sincere request for forgiveness, he also will be set free.On the other side, if the offended party chooses at anytime to forgive the guilty person, then both of them are set free. The offender who has been locked up in an emotional prison for some time and then their door swings open because the other person has forgiven them, still has to make the choice of whether to walk out of the unlocked prison, or remain inside.
Happily, in the case of my young friend who was horribly abused by her evil father, she did, after 20 years choose to forgive him. When that happened, she experienced immediate release from the consequences of her lingering desires to get even. Headaches, depression, stomach problems and anger were relieved when she forgave her dad.
By the time the woman in my office had got to this part of her amazing story, her eyes were moist. “I really don’t understand it Pastor Barry, but this forgiveness thing really works!”
Today they are still a ways off from reconciliation and a restored father/daughter relationship, but they are moving closer with every month that passes. Forgiveness is very powerful!
Barry Buzza is the author of 12 books including The Red Thread, Life Center, Life Journey and Life Purpose. He is a veteran Canadian pastor and a regular columnist with his local paper. http://www.barrybuzza.com/books.html.