There’s a strong connection between forgiveness (or unforgiveness) and health.
When someone treats us unfairly or says or does things that hurt us, it can be incredibly difficult to forgive them. In fact, many of us will associate these bad memories with that person forever unless we do something about it….and fast!
My Lesson In Forgiveness
When I became so sick (more about this here and here) that I could barely walk because of extreme fatigue and pain (along with many other symptoms) I visited multiple doctors, searching for the cause of my illness and desperate for treatment.
My body was going downhill fast.
I truly believed that I was dying.
Avril Lavigne felt the same.
Unfortunately, many of the doctors I went to incorrectly believed and told me, ” You can’t get Lyme disease in Missouri.”
A local Infectious Disease doctor even said to me,
You have all the symptoms of Lyme disease, but because you’ve never traveled to the northeastern United States, you can’t have Lyme.
He said this a day before he called me with results of some of my testing, which came back showing a Lyme infection and another serious tick-borne illness, tularemia. These tests were later confirmed by further testing through other doctors who are specially trained to treat patients with tick-borne illnesses.
But, according to the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society,
Ticks know no borders and respect no boundaries.
The doctors tried treating my symptoms, but not the Borrelia Burgdorferi bacteria, which cause Lyme disease (which I tested positive for, as mentioned above).
One doctor even told me that I needed to relax, that I was just stressed from keeping a busy schedule and tense.
It’s not easy to relax when every muscle, bone and tissue in your body is crying out it pain. (Just sayin’).
Although I was skeptical this would help, in my desperation for answers and relief to my ongoing pain and other symptoms, I watched the video. It was good, but simply not relevant to what I was dealing with.
I tried walking as instructed in the video, even though I could barely walk to my mailbox. As you might have guessed, this didn’t help.
Going to so many doctors and hearing the same things over and over again made me feel like none of them were listening.
My body was deteriorating rapidly and they were doing very little to help me.
It was infuriating and extremely frustrating. Sometimes I just wanted to scream!
To say I was having strong feelings was an understatement.
When I would see these doctors or think of them I would get so angry over the lack of proper medical care and laissez-faire approach they had shown me as their patient. I thought,
“It’s a doctor’s job to help people who are sick! Why aren’t they helping me?”
The hard reality is that thousands of Americans go through the same thing I did every year.
If Lyme disease is diagnosed and treated early and appropriately, it can often be eradicated.
The problem is, when prompt and proper care is not given, the disease spreads throughout the body’s tissues, invading the heart, brain, muscles, blood cells, DNA, etc. doing untold damage and causing many more health problems.
My husband was equally upset and frustrated by the lack of care I was being given. He wanted me to get answers and medical care as much as anyone. But he pointed out that when I held to these hurts and anger, it was only hurting me more (and that’s the last thing anyone in a health crisis needs!). I’m thankful for his wisdom in this situation, because I needed to hear it!
After realizing my lack of forgiveness towards these doctors, I worked on forgiving them for not acknowledging the depth of my illness and not providing prompt treatment, (which probably would have prevented all the damage to my body that has led to me dealing with all the health problems I’m dealing with now).
I was letting them off the hook so to speak. This enabled me to focus more on pouring my resources and energy into getting well.
The Shocking Truth About Forgiveness And Your Health
The shocking truth about forgiveness is that it has many health benefits.
On the other hand, not forgiving can have serious health consequences.
You’ve probably heard, “Hurt people, hurt people.”
Unfortunately, there is truth to this saying, and because not one of us is perfect, we’ve all done or said things that have hurt another person at one time or another. I know I have.
By the way, forgiving does not mean saying the offender was right. It doesn’t mean what they did was okay, or that you have to be best friends with the person who wronged you. That’s for you to decide.
Forgiveness is something we can do for others, but it’s also something we can do for ourselves. Sometimes the person who hurt us isn’t even aware that they did anything wrong. Or if confronted with it, they might deny any wrong doing on their part.
But it doesn’t matter whether they acknowledge the pain or hurt they’ve caused. If someone hurts us, we owe it to ourselves to forgive them and move on with our lives.
Did you know that holding on to past hurts can cause more pain, hurt, and even physical illness?
When we have negative thoughts about someone and are hung up on what they did to us, we can become trapped in a negative thought pattern that interferes with the way we love our families, the connectedness we have with others, the choices we make and our ability to do our jobs and responsibilities well.
As a believer, I look to God and the Bible for guidance in life. When Peter asked Jesus how many times we should forgive our brother (or sister) when they wrong us Jesus said, “Seventy times seven”.
Woah, that’s a lot of forgiveness!
Health Benefits Of Forgiveness
And if that’s not enough, here are several health benefits of forgiveness you may want to consider:
- less anxiety and stress
- enhances self-esteem
- a longer lifespan (1)
- decrease in negative emotions, such as feelings of anger, which can lower blood pressure and heart rate
- increased immune system function
Learning to forgive ourselves and others is essential.
Our health depends on it!
I hope this has given you some things to think about when it comes to the value of forgiveness and how important it is to learn to let it go!
And if you’re feeling really inspired, here’s a sing-along to “Let it Go” from Frozen. (Yep, I went there.)