Have you added forgiveness to your New Year’s Resolutions? It’s likely that each one of us could benefit from focusing on forgiving in 2020.
“That is one of the most concrete, most beneficial things that somebody can do. I mean, one person that you can forgive. Think about that—I think every single one of us probably has somebody in our past that we’re still harboring hurts from, we’re still holding at least a little bit of resentment towards or a little bit of anger. We haven’t completely let go of what they’ve done to us,” said Fr. Matthew Spencer, host of St. Joseph’s Workshop.
If that describes you, put forgiveness on your list of goals or resolutions for the year ahead! The benefits are numerous!
Fr. Spencer explained how grudge holding versus forgiveness affects us physically. “There is a lot of data that points to the fact that forgiveness will help you mentally and physically—forget about the spiritual side of things for one moment because you and I know that forgiveness does a lot for our spiritual health.” He spoke to the fact that anger can affect things like our heart health and immune system, but how letting go of that anger or resentment can have the opposite affect.
People often use a misunderstanding of forgiveness as a reason for avoiding it altogether. If someone has seriously hurt or offended us, it might not be safe or wise to put yourself in a situation that could lead to more harm. But the good news is—forgiveness doesn’t mean that you need to welcome someone back into your life.
There’s a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you need to like them or spend time with them. “Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean that the relationship of the past is going to be restored; that’s what reconciliation is. … Sometimes we can do that and sometimes we can’t in our relationships,” explains Fr. Spencer.
Forgiveness doesn’t even require that the person you’ve forgiven is remorseful or accepting of your forgiveness. It’s a decision you make, and it can be a very powerful thing for you to do this year. Decide to forgive one person this year, and start on the path towards letting go of resentment and anger and opening up that space in your heart for faith and love.
Tune in to Saint Joseph’s Workshop weekdays at 7-8pm ET / 4-5pm PT only on Relevant Radio®.