Mar 152018 0 Responses

The Hidden Cost of Unforgiveness

Forgiveness is a command from God. Like so many commands, it’s given not in order to frustrate our lives but to free us from unnecessary burdens. When we fail to forgive, we carry with us a weight which negatively impacts our lives. Often, this impact is unseen for a long period of time, but it is has a corrosive effect. Before we realize it, our grudge has hurt us and others.

Sometimes we are deeply aware that we are holding a grudge. At other times, unforgiveness is wreaking havoc in our lives without us knowing it.

3 Byproducts of Unforgiveness

When we fail to forgive, we pay a hefty price. Here are three things that happen when we choose to hold a grudge:

1. Exhaustion. While forgiveness requires energy, it takes less energy than unforgiveness. To forgive demands great effort for a season and then a small level of maintenance work on a regular basis, but unforgiveness is much more demanding. It requires our attention and efforts. It creates tension leading to headaches, back problems, and other physical ailments. It can weaken our immune systems making us susceptible to illness. Who hasn’t lost sleep because our mind is rehearsing a past hurt or disappointment? A grudge can feel like a heavy weight strapped to our backs. While we might be able to lift it with little effort, continually carrying it around causes a great toll.

2. Isolation. Unforgiveness is like a closed fist. When someone hurts us, we hold onto our pain. Because we are hurt, we are less likely to reach out to others. We are more skeptical when others try to reach out to us. We close our fists in order to send a clear message to others that we are not open to them. Often times unknowingly, we isolate ourselves from others. The bitterness caused by unforgiveness makes us less desirable to others. Even if we wanted to connect, others will be cautious around us because of our pain. Unforgiveness leads to isolation because we overly protect our hurting hearts.

3. Distraction. The mental toll of a grudge cannot be underestimated. Not only does it exhaust us from all the energy it demands, it distracts us from the important things of life. Whenever we spend time remembering what someone has done to us, we are not focusing on those things we can or should be doing. Unforgiveness is a focus on the past. Whenever we are looking backward, we can’t be looking forward. A grudge tempts us to fixate on another person. Sometimes we watch them more than we watch ourselves. Often times, we define our happiness based on their unhappiness. When we fail to forgive, we lose a sense of clarity about ourselves and those around us.

Why We Must Forgive

These three things aren’t the only reasons, but they are the primary reasons that we must forgive. Life is too hard for us to carry with us a grudge which will only make us more exhausted, isolated, and distracted. Our longing for rest and connection should drive us to understand the process of forgiveness.

In the latest episode of Kevin A. Thompson The Podcast, Ben Storie joins me to discuss forgiveness. Ben is a licensed counselor, husband, and father (the license is for the counseling, not the husbandry or fathering). In this episode, we discuss the cost of unforgiveness and the process of forgiveness.

My favorite point is how Ben refers to forgiveness as a practice. By considering the practice of forgiveness, we are reminded that none of us are perfect, we must continually learn, and we are never finished. If you are holding a grudge or find yourself feeling bitter regarding the success of someone else, listen to this episode.

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