I encourage you to search yourself. Is there someone who you need to forgive?
Studies have shown that men have a harder time forgiving others than women do. According to www.sciencedaily.com, in a study at Case Western Reserve University, it was found that:
“Forgiveness can be a powerful means to healing, but it does not come naturally for both sexes. Men have a harder time forgiving than women do, according to new research. But that can change if men develop empathy toward an offender by seeing they may also be capable of similar actions. Then the gender gap closes, and men become less vengeful.”
I found this very interesting. You see, when I was a child, my parents joined an extreme religious cult. I wrote about this in my book, A Train Called Forgiveness. My experience in the cult devastated my formative years. After escaping the cult when I was 16, I became very angry. I was angry with the cult leader. I was angry with my parents. I was even angry with God. I had an unforgiving spirit.
But something happened in my twenties. Something urged me to forgive those who had hurt me. It started with a great release of pent-up feelings and a lot of tears. Still, it would take years to work through it all. Forgiveness is a process and takes practice like any other process. I’m convinced that the process of forgiveness made me a better man for several reasons.
You renew broken relationships.
My relationship with my parents was rocky for a few years after I got out of the cult. I blamed all of my problems on them. I went into foster care while they remained in the group for another year. It was only after I began to forgive my parents for our involvement in a cult that I was able to begin to love them for who they were. Like me, they make mistakes. They’re imperfect. They were doing what they thought best at the time. I renewed my relationship with them. This has given me many good years to spend with them instead of continually holding a grudge.
You learn to put yourself in their shoes.
Some people wonder how I could ever forgive a cult leader who made me work 60 hours a week? How could I forgive his cronies who took me to the woodshed whenever they deemed I wasn’t working hard enough? In my second book, At The Crossing Of Justice And Mercy, I write about how the power of mental illness can create a megalomaniac cult leader. I was able to put myself in his shoes. Although he hurt me and many others, he suffered from a personality disorder. Knowing this helped me to forgive him at a deeper level.
You release harmful, pent-up energy.
Negative energy is not good for you. Many studies have shown that pent-up negativity can actually lead to physical symptoms. According to a study at Johns Hopkins Hospital, “Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease, and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health.”
You break the cycle of self-limitation and move on.
When you hold a grudge, you tie yourself to your stake. When you forgive, you set yourself free. I used to struggle with constant fear and paranoia. I thought the old cult leader was always following me. Once I let go of my anger, I began to understand that this was an irrational fear. You see, the cult leader had been imprisoned for statutory rape. Holding onto the anger and fear was self-limiting. When I learned to forgive, I broke free. I started moving on with my life. I stopped blaming others for my problems.
Forgiveness Leads To Manliness
An angry man is not the best man he can be. A scared man is not the best man he can be. It takes a manly man to forgive. It takes strength. It takes courage. It takes compassion. It takes love.
I encourage you to search yourself. Is there someone who you need to forgive? If there is, it’s never too early or too late to start the forgiveness process. It’s not always an easy road, but in the end, you’ll be a better man for forgiving your enemies.
Learn more about my books at http://www.amazon.com/Dan-Erickson/e/B015GH8P30/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
Photo: Flickr/ Alban Gonzalez