Have you ever met someone who takes pride in holding a grudge? You know who I’m talking about. The person that believes giving in and forgiving first is a sign of weakness. They would rather die than say, “I forgive you,” or “I’m sorry.” Overall, this person is very angry and just downright bitter. He or she typically is accustomed to bad things happening to them, and generally wants to get ahead of the negativity curve and attack it before it attacks them. They look for it to come. What an awful way to live!
Based on the events that are happening in the world today, I have come to the conclusion there is an epidemic of unforgiveness going about. From murders to domestic violence to broken homes to suicide: anger, bitterness, vengefulness, wrath, are at the root of it all.
I find it interesting that as people all over the world continue to operate with a grudge-holding habit, we are seeing a rise in incidents of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure.
I read the other day a research study was done on cancer patients and 61 percent of them reported having trouble forgiving. More than half of them had a severe problem with forgiveness. Forgiveness therapy has even become part of secular practices in medicine and psychology. Clearly, unforgiveness has both negative physical and spiritual effects on us.
When I was in kindergarten, I got into a fight with my friend, Amber, over who was going to take the toys back to the teacher. The argument resulted in a tussle for the toy bag and ultimately ended with me getting scratched in the eye. Let’s just say I didn’t play with Amber for the rest of the school year. I actually didn’t let it go until sometime in high school and I never saw her again after first grade. Talk about holding a grudge! But I was 5 years old. That’s what children do, unless they are taught differently.
Some of us have a real pain. We’ve been abandoned by parents, mistreated by spouses, betrayed by friends, let down by children, blamed by siblings. We’ve been lied to, cheated, and just overall mistreated.
But the Bible tells us:
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Eph. 4:31-32
Forgiveness is not for the faint of heart. In fact, I’m not going to lie and say it is easy or painless. But it is essential to our growth and development. The Bible says we can do all things through Christ. Forgiveness is truly a supernatural response to some very natural experiences. Yet it provides us with the prime opportunity to share the undeserved, unmerited love and mercy of God with someone else.
Diera Shaw-Mendez is a minister and youth leader at New Beginnings Worship Center, Pennsauken, NJ, and works full-time for an educational nonprofit in Philadelphia. She is wife to Chaplain Juan Mendez and mama to Olivia Joy. She spends her “spare time” running an online invitation design shop on Etsy and write occasionally for her personal blog, With Style, By Grace. Diera is a God-fearing, Starbucks loving, tech junkie (…in that order!) who simply wants to inspire women to invest in THE beauty that never fades!