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  • Writer's pictureMonika Largatzis

Why forgiveness is so vital to our health

As human beings, we are so often controlled by our minds and emotions. We easily drift from one thought to the next without giving much attention to what we are processing and believing. Often, a painful memory of an incident that occurred many years ago seems to pop up in our minds out of nowhere. This memory of, for example, being hurt by someone still feels so real as if it happened a moment ago. You replay the incident frame by frame and relive the hurt or emotion that that person caused you. This can often be an indicator that forgiveness has not occurred in your heart and mind.

This memory usually didn’t just pop into your head randomly – it has been lurking around deep in your memory bank, ready to pop up and replay itself at any time or with certain triggers. This could happen if you did not effectively deal with the incident effectively when it occurred, and have held onto unresolved issues of unforgiveness. This is your mind’s way of saying to you that you need to resolve and put it to rest once and for all, as it remains in your ‘inbox’  waiting to be dealt with. Let’s have a look at what God’s Word has to say about forgiveness.


“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

                                                    Mark 11:25

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’

Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’ “

Matthew 18:21-22


We can so easily get locked into a victim mindset of being wronged that we do not take note of what the unforgiveness has done to our hearts. Unforgiveness causes our hearts to become calloused from harbouring all these painful thoughts over long periods of time. What we don’t often realize is how a calloused heart cannot operate at its fullest and thus affects our decisions that often affect us for eternity.

We need to come to the understanding that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and forgiveness is the antidote.

We suffer much more if we allow unforgiveness to remain in our hearts. To forgive someone does not mean that you forget or downplay the hurt or the incident. It does, however, mean that for your own sake it is better to forgive the person as you do not want to be poisoned by it. You walk around every minute of every day deeply affected by the hurt done to you and make daily decisions based on your wounded mindset, making decisions that might have long-lasting effects on your life. Can you see how much you have been affected by unforgiveness? You do not have to be best friends with the person that wronged you and it does not mean you are weak. Jesus certainly was not weak when He was on the cross and asked God to forgive those who persecuted Him! – He displayed immense strength, love and mercy. To forgive will allow you to mature and let go of these hurts and open up avenues in your life that were never visible to you, as your sight was blinded by the dark-tinted lenses you had on.


Forgiveness first and foremost is a command from God: – how can He forgive us if we cannot forgive someone else?  Such unforgiveness causes a division between us and God as we are not operating according to His will. We become so focused on our hurt, that it shapes and forms us into people that we don’t particularly like and we then become victims of our own hurt. God desires to shape and form us and anything outside of God is not His will.

Dr Caroline Leaf,  a world-renowned communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist with Masters and PhD degrees in Communication Pathology and a BSc in Logopaedics, writes that scientifically,  “What you are thinking about every moment of every day becomes a physical reality in your brain and body, which affects your optimal mental and physical health.” Dr Leaf further suggests that “Forgiveness is a choice — an act of your free will. It enables you to release all those toxic thoughts of anger, resentment, bitterness, shame, grief, regret, guilt and hate. These emotions hold your mind in a nasty, vice-like grip. Most importantly, as long as these unhealthy toxic thoughts dominate your mind, you will not be able to grow new healthy thoughts and memories. “

In her book, “Who Switched Off My Brain”, Dr Leaf shares that  “forgiving someone is: Not making excuses for someone’s behavior, but it is forgiving despite behavior, not ignoring pain or hurt, but it is leaving that person in God’s hands, not a weakness, but it is a sign of great courage!”.

By forgiving someone, we thus can be freed from the root of the issue at hand thereby, removing the toxic thinking. The emotions that cause the toxic thought often hold our minds in a vice-like grip. As long as these unhealthy toxic thoughts dominate our minds, we will not be able to restructure our memories—which ultimately means, developing new, healthy thoughts.


Once we let go of the unforgiveness that we carry with us, we can create a new path for improved health and peace of mind. Forgiveness leads to:

  • Reduced symptoms of depression

  • Healthier relationships

  • Improved mental health

  • Reduced levels of anxiety, stress and hostility

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Stronger immune system

  • Improved heart health

  • Improved self-esteem

Once we are free of the unforgiveness, we walk free of the heavy burden that we have carried for so long and can even perceive life with new and refreshed lenses. Critically, we also move closer to God as we forgive those that have hurt us as we have emulated God, as He has forgiven our sins too. Forgiveness demands humility from us and within that humble state, we are reminded of how undeserving we truly are of God’s forgiveness and mercy. When we forgive we also draw closer to God and we become more aware and thankful for what He has done for us. When weighing up the options to forgive or not, there is no contest! – the benefits clearly outweigh holding on to our hurts. Forgiveness is a choice; make it today so that you can walk free from carrying unnecessary burdens that only poison your mind, body and soul. Look at what the Lord has to say about forgiving us for our sins.

Micah 7:18-19 

“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”

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