“To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.” These are the wise words of Robert Muller.
Anne Lamont gets right to the point with a touch of black humour. She said, “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”
Every now and again someone comes into your life that really personifies the message of forgiveness. For me that person is my friend James Dargin, an Indigenous Elder from Wollongong, where I live. He only came into my life two years ago, but he has challenged and changed it ever since.
Ps James Dargin is a recognised Indigenous leader and elder in Wollongong, NSW with a deep love for people. James has seen much pain and suffering in his life and his message is simple:
“We need to forgive so we can build a united future for our children. The only way to do that is to stop the division and work together.”
These are powerful words coming from a man who was physically, mentally, and sexually abused as a young child in a religious institution. These words are even more powerful considering he was racially abused as well and grew up to hate white people as a result.
James understands that unforgiveness is like a poison that is deadly to both heart and soul. His story is riveting:
The Mayo Clinic is world-renowned and is ranked as the best hospital by U.S. News, World Report and Newsweek. In a Mayo Clinic article titled, “Forgiveness: Letting Go of Grudges and Bitterness,” some key questions about forgiveness are answered and the benefits of forgiveness are shown.
What is Forgiveness?
Forgiveness means different things to different people. But in general, it involves an intentional decision to let go of resentment and anger.
The act that hurt or offended you might always be with you. But working on forgiveness can lessen that act’s grip on you. It can help free you from the control of the person who harmed you. Sometimes, forgiveness might even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting or excusing the harm done to you. It also doesn’t necessarily mean making up with the person who caused the harm. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that allows you to focus on yourself and helps you go on with life.
What are the Benefits of Forgiving Someone?
Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for improved health and peace of mind. Forgiveness can lead to:
Improved mental health.
Less anxiety, stress and hostility.
Fewer symptoms of depression.
Lower blood pressure.
A stronger immune system.
Improved heart health.
Here is an excerpt from a blog written by Colin Tipping, author of the Radical Forgiveness book, and an easy tool for you to use to aid in the forgiveness process: “Unforgiveness is classified in medical books as a disease.”
According to Dr. Steven Standiford, chief of surgery at the Cancer Treatment Centres of America, refusing to forgive makes people sick and keeps them that way. With that in mind, forgiveness therapy is now being used to help treat diseases, such as cancer.
“It’s important to treat emotional wounds or disorders because they really can hinder someone’s reactions to the treatments, even someone’s willingness to pursue treatment,” Standiford explained.
Of all cancer patients, 61 percent have forgiveness issues. Of those, more than half are severe, according to research by Dr. Michael Barry, a pastor and the author of the book, The Forgiveness Project. “Harbouring these negative emotions, this anger and hatred, creates a state of chronic anxiety,” he said.
“Chronic anxiety very predictably produces excess adrenaline and cortisol, which deplete the production of natural killer cells, which is your body’s foot soldier in the fight against cancer,” he explained. The fact is, of course, this applies to everyone, not just cancer patients.
There’s a tool in Radical Forgiveness called the 4-Steps that can be used any time you feel stressed, or some irritation comes up. Writing these down or memorizing them is really helpful.
1. Look what I created!
2. I notice my feelings and my judgments but love myself anyway.
3. I am willing to see the perfection in the situation.
4. I choose peace.
It’s amazing how this can transform the situation immediately. Just by being willing to be willing can make a change.
Martin Luther King said, ‘We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.’
Martin is right, forgiveness releases the power of love.
James Dargin is right too,
“Heartfelt forgiveness brings healing, hope and freedom. That’s what our nation needs, our families need and that’s what we need as individuals.”
Each Easter we are reminded of the power of forgiveness from the greatest figure of history by his words while nailed to the cross. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” James Dargin knows the power of these words. They have changed his life and they can change yours too.
So my advice is simple. Go into the bathroom and lock the door. Look in the mirror and say out loud either, “Sorry” or “I forgive you” to yourself. After that practice run, go and put those words into action with the people you love.
Yours for the Power of Forgiveness,
PS. The registrations are coming in for the Courageous Fathering Course, starting online on Zoom, Tuesday 2 May 2023. Booking information here.