March 2022 Character Core

Forgiving someone is not something that is easy to do nor does it come naturally to most of us. It is letting go of past hurts and past wrongs that may have been committed against us by friends, a spouse, or another family member.

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Forgiveness is something that is very important, not just because it is something we should do, but because it affects our health. John Hopkins Medicine states, “Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression and stress.”

One of the most powerful stories of forgiveness comes from Corrie Ten Boom. She and her family hid Jews during the Holocaust until they were caught and sent to Ravensbruck. Her sister died there, but Corrie lived. One day she was speaking at a church in Munich when she saw a man who had been a guard at Ravensbruck. He came up to her and asked her for forgiveness. This is what she wrote in her book The Hiding Place:

“Since the end of the war I had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality.

Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.

And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion–I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.

‘Jesus, help me!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’

And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’”

This incredible story is a good reminder to all of us about the power of forgiveness and the healing that it brings to us, both emotionally and physically.

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