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The Golden Reward of Forgiveness

What makes people feel as if their energy and time reserves are running on empty? Feeling tired and rushed for time may suggest a need to look at how much resentment and how many grudges are being carried around each day. Resentment and grudges about things in the past disrupt lives and overpower the ability to function.

Missed opportunities, fractured relationships, family disagreements, neighborhood feuds, and unattained goals can create a burden of grudges and resentment. Ebenezer Scrooge, in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, describes this burden of resentment as a chain forged by his life. In Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential, Caroline Myss talks about changing the leaden weight of painful memories into the gold of understanding.

Life naturally provides experiences that can lead to grudges and resentment. Sometimes the pain or senselessness of the experience makes it difficult to forgive. In other situations, the desire to forgive is there but the capacity to forgive is elusive. For many it is harder to forgive than to hold on to a grudge. It is unfortunate that this Hebrew proverb is so true; “Change takes but an instant, the resistance to change can take a lifetime”.

In spite of the challenge of complete forgiveness, there is little question how critical it is for spiritual, emotional, and physical health. Holding grudges and harboring resentment can lead to isolation from family, friends, and neighbors. The smoldering anger triggered by grudges and resentment can contribute to digestive disturbances, increased blood pressure, and reduced ability to manage blood glucose. Unresolved resentment can also disrupt sleep patterns.

To be able to reap the benefits that come from forgiveness, it is necessary to:

  • Believe that you are worthy of forgiveness.

  • Stop re-living and re-counting the cause of the grudge or resentment.

  • Make a personal commitment to forgive completely with no strings attached.

  • Be patient with your self as you develop the maturity required to forgive.

The sincere belief that you are worthy of forgiveness expands your ability to forgive others. Many find the foundation for this sense of worthiness in their spiritual belief system.

Re-living and re-counting the details of the situation that is the source of the resentment keeps it alive. Letting go of past insults or betrayal is a process that begins with the decision to move toward forgiveness.

Another important part of the forgiveness process is accepting the fact that forgiving another does not assure they will in turn forgive. The journey to full forgiveness takes different amounts of time for different individuals. People from whom you expect forgiveness may need more time than you. It is counter productive to expect forgiveness in exchange for forgiveness. This keeps you from experiencing all the rewards of forgiveness.

Today is the day to begin the journey to discard grudges and resentment from you life. The ability to forgive is one of the gifts of maturity and produces health benefits and a sense of peace more valuable than gold.


- Janet Benavente

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