Forgiveness has been a topic in my life that I have struggled with since childhood. Even at a young age, I could harbor grudges towards others for weeks, sometimes months, and I am ashamed to say this, but I have even held grudges for years on someone. I think my grudge-holding was due to the fact that I was so stubborn and hard-headed growing up, which is something that I still struggle with today. When I was about 8 or 9 years old, my younger cousin lied to her mom (my aunt), stating that I had told her what the "F" word was. Now, any of you who knew me as a kid can find this laughable because I was one of, if not the most sheltered and naive girl growing up and considered words like "idiot" and "stupid" bad words. I was scorned by my Aunt for something that I had nothing to do with and never received an apology for it. This caused me to harbor unpleasant feelings of resentment towards her for years.
A couple years ago, I got to thinking about that whole situation and how unhealthy it was for me to have held a grudge like that for so many years. Harboring those unpleasant feelings towards my Aunt hindered me from a lot of things. For starters, I have never really had a good relationship (or any kind of relationship) with not just my Aunt, but with my two cousins and Uncle. For a really long time, I blamed myself and that whole situation as to the reason why our families are not close and see each other only once a year, if we're lucky. I felt so imprisoned when I was holding that grudge on my Aunt and I inhibited my own emotional, social, and spiritual growth for so many years. I am sure you are wondering what made me decide to forgive my Aunt and put that whole situation to bed. I realized that my Aunt was never going to come to me and apologize, and frankly, I wouldn't expect her to. I don't need someone to formally apologize to me to be in need of my forgiveness. The reason I decided to let go and free myself from those feelings of resentment was because I believe holding those feelings was toxic to my body. It is unhealthy to withhold hatred and resentment inside of you. It messes with your heart, mind, and soul. When you are holding those kind of feelings inside, you aren't hurting that person you're holding a grudge towards. You are actually hurting yourself. I decided to free myself from that entire situation and forgive my Aunt because I was tired of hindering myself socially, emotionally, and spiritually. Once I was able to forgive, I was able to open up to people that I wasn't able to in the past. I started forming relationships with people outside my ordinary clique. I started seeing an emotional change in me where The Lord softened my heart and allowed me to put others before myself and share my feelings with others. I was also able to come closer to God because I did not have that huge barrier in the way like I had before.
I share this incredibly personal entry with you for two reasons. The first reason is that I want you to see how the topic of 'Forgiveness' relates to one's health and that it truly is unhealthy for a person to harbor grudges. Secondly, I want to make a point that I should have made to myself a long time ago. I mentioned how my grudge holding was believed to be due to the fact that I was so stubborn and hard-headed growing up. I thought that I had to show that I was strong and not give in to someone by forgiving them. You guys, forgiveness is not an attribute of the weak. The weak can never forgive. Only holding grudges is for the weak. In fact, forgiveness is an attribute of the strong. It is and will always be for the strong-willed, strong-minded, and strong-hearted. So don't ever consider yourself weak for forgiving someone. I wish I had been told that when I was younger. I think it is important to realize that forgiveness is something we should practice in order to be spiritually healthy for the cause of Christ, because he forgave us.