Kristi Burchfiel, author of Piecing Together Forgiveness: A Study of Philemon, combines a study of the Pauline letter and psychological research, explaining that “God created us to be relational; we are meant to be in relationships with other people, friends, loved ones, even God Himself”. Among the many benefits of forgiveness, it acts primarily as a bridge to restoring relationships. Relationships that have been torn asunder and offered bitterness and heartache can be restored—fully—and bring peace of mind.
The Journal of Health Psychology published a study that states: “Forgiveness – of self and others – reduced the effect of stress, which improved physical and mental health”. Experience suggests that forgiveness is not easy, especially when we cannot understand the motives of others. Forgiveness requires acceptance of what is and an even more radical acceptance of the consequences of whatever wrongs have been done. One must be able to retire the mindset that insists one has some control over the actions of another person. Ultimately, when one prioritizes forgiveness, one must work on forgiving oneself. This requires compassion for oneself, the hard work one does, recognizing that no human is perfect, but still deserves to be loved and even prized.
Additionally, the Mayo Clinic reported “Forgiveness: letting go of grudges and bitterness mentions a number of health benefits related to forgiveness, among them lower blood pressure, fewer symptoms of depression, stronger immune system and improved heart health.” There are medical benefits and psychospiritual benefits of forgiveness and the restoration of relationships.
One of the fundamental principles of a clinically sound mental health practice is the following presupposition: almost all social-emotional problems are essentially normal responses to abnormal situations. Anger, sadness, grief, anxiety—none of these are disease states; they are normal experiences and functions of being human in a fallen, desperately broken world. Of course, while living in this world, one can learn new and better ways to respond to it – forgiveness is one of those healing salves. It is worth your health and happiness.
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