Forgiveness: An antidote for healing the body, mind, soul and spirit

It is impossible to live in this world without getting hurt, offended and rejected or to do our share of the hurting

Matthew 6:14–16 tells us, “If you forgive others when they hurt you, God will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their faults, God will not forgive you.”

It is impossible to live in this world without getting hurt, offended and rejected or to do our share of the hurting.

Despite the regularity of this cycle, most of us struggle to forgive others and ourselves.

Evidence-based research suggests that feelings of anger, hurt and emotional pain release toxic chemicals inside our bodies that damage organs and our ability to think creatively. This contributes to a variety of diseases, including heart attacks, cancer, ulcers, migraines and high blood pressure. In light of these terrible outcomes, forgiveness is one of the most important steps a person must take on the path to healing.

The word “forgive” means to wipe the slate clean, to pardon, to cancel a debt. Generally, we avoid forgiveness for two reasons: We do not want to let “them” off the hook and we think we are protecting ourselves by holding on to the hurt and pain. Be assured, the offender’s actions have consequences and are theirs to own. Likewise, there are consequences for the offended one when we choose to hold on to the offense.

On the other hand, the emotions of love, peace, patience and kindness produce a physical response that releases endorphins, which heal the body. Forgiveness takes an act of the will that sometimes does not come easily. It is intentional and voluntary. The offended person must actively and willingly commit to a change of feelings and attitudes in regard to the offense. Forgiveness is a way of letting go of the negative energy around the incident.

When you are free from the crippling power of unforgiveness, you will gain energy, breathe easier and receive mental, physical, spiritual and emotional healing. It is important to remember that forgiveness is not granted because a person deserves to be forgiven. Instead, it is an act of love, mercy and grace that brings healing to the giver and to the offender.

– The Rev. Yvonne D. McCoy, M.Div., retired chaplain, Norton Women’s and Children’s Hospital


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