Emotional pain never dies of natural causes. Old age doesn’t sap its strength. And you can’t bury it alive. If you try, it’ll kick and scream until you acknowledge it, feel it, and work through it. And working through it usually requires you to forgive. Of course, you can try ignoring the pain; we call that denial. And this may work, to some extent and for some short period of time. But the only way to get it out of your heart is through forgiveness.
Unexpressed grief and unforgiveness festers and swells, waiting to erupt. It may explode in uncontrollable rage, gush out in unstoppable tears, seep out in unexplainable depression, or ooze internally, resulting in undiagnosed illness. But the one thing you can be absolutely sure of is this: pain you’ve shoved deep down never leaves on its own.
People carry all kinds of pain from disappointments, failures, betrayals, and losses. In a hectic world, the most efficient and acceptable way of dealing with emotional pain is to get so busy that you simply have no time to think about it. This eases your discomfort so you can carry on, seemingly no worse for wear. The avoidance of pain, however, will keep you from going through the process of forgiveness. When you refuse to feel the full impact of your pain, you don’t allow it to do its necessary work on your character.
Don’t settle for temporary and inadequate fixes. Extending forgiveness is the only real way toward healing. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you approve or agree with what happened, it means you accept that it did happen and work on releasing the grip it has on your life.
If you’d like more resources on forgiveness, we can help! Call us at 800-NEW-LIFE (639-5433). We can pray with you, recommend one of our many audio, video, and print resources, and help you find a Christian counselor or Life Recovery Group in your area.
By Steve Arterburn