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Love Covers a Multitude of Sins
I may forgive you eventually, but I'll never forget what you said!
I would rather be eaten alive by this inadequacy than to forgive you! Maybe if you thought to apologize I would think about it, but you have no idea that what you did upset me to the highest degree imaginable which, in itself, is unforgivable! Every time I think about what you did, I get even angrier than the time before it. I like to think of myself as a forgiving person, but this is one thing I don't think I can ever, ever forgive.
Does this sound familiar? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we let something that someone else did or said bother us to the point of getting agitated? The one thing we forget to realize is that me not forgiving you has absolutely no effect on you whatsoever. You can say what you said and do what you did and not think about it in the next ten minutes. But the fact that you said it and it affected ME in such a way, means every time I see your face or hear your voice, it's the first thing I think of.
They say love covers a multitude of sins. Love is the greatest of the fruitages of the spirit. If you have a love for someone, TRUE love, then you tend to look over certain transgressions. However, when you have "superficial love" for someone, you know, like a 4th cousin or an in-law or someone who, if you never saw them again, wouldn't really ruin your life too much, holding a grudge is so much easier to pull off.
To forgive or not?
When we choose to forgive someone who has upset us, we try and let go of any need for bringing up the fact that they have wronged us. Not bringing up past wrongs is the right and commendable thing to do, however, our willingness to forgive doesn't mean that we condone the wrong word or deed nor does it minimize the hurt that it caused us. Rather, we simply decide to let go of the bitter feelings, even though we may have an absolute right to be upset.
When we keep anger and resentment bottled up inside and not think twice about forgiving, we end up hurting ourselves. In what way? Being overly or extremely negative can rob us of the joy and happiness we need in our lives and make us miserable, bitter individuals. When this kind of negativity becomes the norm in our lives, we lose sleep, we cultivate anger and sadness, and it could even lead to depression.
On the other hand, there are many wonderful benefits of forgiveness. When we freely forgive others, we keep the peace, which, in turn, saves our relationships, and we let go of that animosity that robs us of our joy. Plus, you need to keep in mind, we are all imperfect and it's best to extend a forgiving heart and spirit because one day, you may need to be forgiven as well.
I want to forgive, but how can I bring myself to do the right thing when it hurts so badly?
Why can't I forgive you? You either said or did something that I find completely unforgivable! Are you power hungry? Are you keeping track of all the wrongdoings you've ever experienced to use against me at a later time during another disagreement? Have you wounded me in the past to the point where "I won't get mad, I'll just get even!" ? Maybe if I forgive you this time, will you think I'll forgive you in the future and you'll just hurt me again somehow?
These scenarios are all a part of our everyday lives. Someone at some time will inevitably rub us the wrong way, and it's up to us to decide if their wrongdoing is worth our joy and happiness. I can tell you this, the answer to that question is ALWAYS no. When you harbor resentment and anger and bitterness and disgust for something someone has said to you, all it's doing is ruining your day, over and over and over again. You have better things to do than to keep this kind of negativity lingering in your head and your heart.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but ya know what? You really upset me!
I really really want to be the better person and let your selfishness/ignorance/rudeness/stupidity, etc, roll off my back like it never happened, but HOW? I'm really offended and I don't even know the first step to take in order to forgive you.
We can begin with understanding. Do we know what it means to forgive? Forgiving means letting go of the idea or the notion that what this person did or said is going to ruin my day/week/month/year or worse, LIFE. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting what happened, nor does it mean that what you did wasn't that big of a deal. Sometimes it means that you just need to let go of the account for your own sanity.
Understanding the consequences of not forgiving can help. Some experts say that holding on to resentment can put you at greater risk for a wide range of physical and emotional problems, including depression and high blood pressure, not to mention the damage it does to your relationship. Whether it's your spouse, your best friend, a distant relative, a co-worker, or anybody else, is this person worth your heartache when it affects your health? Likewise, is this person worth rekindling your relationship?
Understanding the benefits of forgiving can help you to ease into that transition and help you restore the joy and happiness that was lacking otherwise. A spirit of forgiveness allows you and the person who committed the wrongdoing to give each other the benefit of the doubt rather than to keep score of the wrongdoings.
Being forgiving when you accept a person for who he or she is, flaws and all, might not be easy, but it's the best course to take. Being reasonable is the wise action because asking yourself if the situation is really that important, is an apology necessary right this second, or can I overlook what just happened and move on will give you that answer of whether or not you should forgive.
A good suggestion would be to discuss the matter with the offender. Without going off the deep end, explain to the person what offended you and why it caused such a painful response. Maybe they honestly didn't mean to come across the way you received it, maybe they were in a bad frame of mind from something that was done or said to them, or maybe they really were trying to get under your skin. Don't speculate, though, because it will only conjure up ill feelings for you. You'll never find out what the case really was until you ask.
Scriptural backing for forgiveness
Some will say, a tried and true method is the Bible. This Bible has sound, scriptural counsel for all kinds of issues. You can use any Bible, Old and New Testaments, and find the counsel you need. In all of my research, I like to use The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures because it is an accurate, easy-to-read translation of the Bible. It has been published in whole or in part in over 120 languages, so there's really no excuse not to use it!
Did you know that willingness to forgive is a Christian requirement? Here are just some of the many scriptures relating to forgiveness that you may find very helpful:
- "Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely." Colossians 3:13
- “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; whereas if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14,15
- "Above all things, have an intense love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8
- "Put away from yourselves every kind of malicious bitterness, anger, wrath, screaming, and abusive speech, as well as everything injurious. But become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another just as God also by Christ freely forgave you." Ephesians 4:31,32
- "Now if anyone has caused sadness, he has saddened, not me, but all of you to an extent not to be too harsh in what I say. This rebuke given by the majority is sufficient for such a man; now you should instead kindly forgive and comfort him so that he may not be overwhelmed by excessive sadness. I, therefore, exhort you to confirm your love for him." 2 Corinthians 2:5-8
- "Accordingly, as God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, humility, mildness, and patience. Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely even if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Just as Jehovah freely forgave you, you must also do the same. But besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union." Colossians 3:12-14
So as you can see, there are many counsel points regarding forgiveness and how well it goes for us when we heed this counsel. There are, of course, many many others, but these are just a few to get you started.
How do you respond to an offensive word or action?
Further research from well-known clinics and hospitals
The Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Harvard Health have done extensive research on the benefits and repercussions of being angry, staying angry, harboring resentment and holding grudges. These facets we may take part in on a daily basis really are affecting our health, and depending on our attitude and outlook, our health is either flourishing or suffering.
What are the benefits of forgiving someone?
Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for happiness, health and peace. Forgiveness can lead to:
- Healthier relationships.
- Greater spiritual and psychological well-being.
- Less anxiety, stress, and hostility.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Fewer symptoms of depression.
- Stronger immune system.
- Improved heart health.
- Higher self-esteem.
What are the effects of holding a grudge?
If you're unforgiving, you might:
- Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience
- Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can't enjoy the present
- Become depressed or anxious
- Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you're at odds with your spiritual beliefs
- Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others
To read and understand more about forgiveness, you can click on this link from the Mayo Clinic: