A clear path to physical and mental health – Forgiveness

Photo from Google Images

Photo from Google Images

There are many times during each of our lives when we are either needing to forgive someone or wanting someone to forgive us. It’s a struggle one way or the other.  We’ve all experienced the sufferings wrought by wrong doing and had times when we were the perpetrator.

“The topic of forgiveness is simply universal, whether it’s forgiving someone else or yourself.  But what many of us don’t know is that forgiveness is good for our health.  Furthermore, holding grudges takes a physical toll,” says Karen Swartz, M.D., a practicing psychiatrist and clinical programs director of the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center.

We’ve known for a long time how important forgiveness is to our overall well-being since Jesus, right amid his own crucifixion, said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  And when asked by his disciples how many times they should forgive someone, he said, “Seventy times seven.”  In other words, continue to forgive and forgive and forgive.

Two millennia later, Christian healer Mary Baker Eddy said, “Hate no one; … If you have been badly wronged, forgive and forget.”  Miscellaneous Writings 12:2

I learned the importance of these wise advisors years ago. I felt I was “badly wronged” when  I was the secretary for the Public Relations Department of a large corporation and we were preparing for a gala celebration of the world premiere of the movie “Winchester 66.”  A secretary for one of the vice presidents was in charge of getting girls together to take part in a city-wide parade and to act as hostesses and guides for those that were coming to town.  Being in on the planning of the celebration, I was waiting to be asked to be a “cowgirl.”  But, it never happened – and I felt hurt.

I chose not to make a big deal about it. But, when she and the other secretaries stopped allowing me to walk to lunch with them or even sit with them, I began to wonder what had happened.  One of the other secretaries and I were supposed to be very good friends, but even she had nothing to do with me during work.  Outside of work she was fine.  As it turned out, the head secretary was mad at me because I had sent her a correction that needed to be made on a memo she was to be sending out.  Unbeknownst to me, she had already sent it out – mistake and all.  It seemed she had retaliated by speaking ill of me to this group of women.

The injustice of it all overwhelmed my thinking and affected my home and work life. I needed to find some emotional relief.  As I had always done when problems arose at home or at work, I turned to prayer to quiet my angry, hurt feelings.  I knew these would not do me any good, nor make things better at work.

In thinking about Jesus’ example, I reasoned that being left out of “cowgirl” status was insignificant compared to being crucified.  I could forgive, even if it took me many weekend hours in humble prayer to do so. Humble means that I was willing to give up my personal feelings of anger, injustice and hurt and let God be in charge of my feelings and the outcome at work.

When I went back to work, I felt refreshed and untouched by the previous week’s events.  I was no longer angry.  As it turned out, one of the men involved in the planning asked me if I was one of the cowgirls. When I responded “no I wasn’t yet”, he said they were looking for someone to work directly with the stars that were coming from Hollywood and be the hostess for the gala dinner and wondered if I might be interested.  Of course, I agreed to do this and thus had the wonderful opportunity to take some of the stars on a tour of the plant and museum, have my picture taken with some of them and meet them all at the dinner where I took care of them.

I cannot say that this group of women and I ever all became good friends again but we continued to work well together and I did find a few new friends.

When I look back over this experience, I realize that if I had continued to harbor anger and frustration toward those girls, I might have left myself open to the “physical toll holding grudges” has proven to take on our bodily and mental health. And, I might not have been open to a new and better opportunity and would have missed out on wonderful and memorable events.

Kate is interested in blogging about health, health care, spirituality, science, religion, the importance of prayer in maintaining a healthy mind and body.  She is a Christian Science practitioner and the media, legislative and public contact for Christian Science in the state of Maryland.  Contact Kate on Twitter: @CscomMaryland; on Facebook: Kate Johnson CS; or email:  maryland@compub.org.