The Cost of Not Forgiving Others

Why forgiveness is essential to emotional and spiritual health.

Posted in , Feb 13, 2019


On Valentine's Day, some enjoy the company of loved ones while others allow past hurts to torment them. Yes, some people may have mentally or physically wounded us and, humanly speaking, do not deserve our forgiveness. Forgiving those who have deeply hurt us can be one of the most difficult challenges a person can face. But when we are unable to forgive others, we too pay the price. 

The late priest and author Henri Nouwen once said, “By not forgiving I chain myself to a desire to get even, thereby losing my freedom.” When we are unable to forgive, we are consumed by resentment. We become a prisoner of destructive emotions that can lead to bitterness and decay of wellbeing.  In short, forgiveness is essential to emotional and spiritual health. 

When we find it in ourselves to forgive others, it doesn’t mean that we weren’t deeply hurt. It means we don’t give them the power to continue hurting us. It’s about freeing ourselves from suffering. In some cases, the relationship can be restored after forgiveness is achieved, while in others it is too late. No matter the outcome, forgiveness empowers us to learn from the situation and move on. As author and Holocaust survivor, Dr. Edith Eva Eger, wrote, “To forgive is to grieve—for what happened, for what didn’t happen—and to give up the need for a different past.” 

When God asks us to forgive as we are forgiven, it’s more than a command—it’s the gift of healing and peace. Rise to the challenge of forgiving others. And if you are having a difficult time doing so, turn to God, friends and family who can help you overcome the pain, “give up the need for a different past” and ultimately forgive the individual who hurt you. Do not let old hurts destroy you; take the high road and forgive. 

Lord, give us the courage and strength needed to take the high road of forgiveness.

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