Approximately 95 percent of physical illness can be traced to stress according to Dr. Alexander Loyd, author of the Healing Codes. Millions of Americans, addicted to antidepressants and other drugs, are seeking relief.
The problem is that relief never comes. Drugs only treat the symptoms. They aren’t a cure. They don’t provide healing.
Psychological causes often include a lack of forgiveness or refusing to grieve a loss. By holding onto past hurts, we’re only putting ourselves in bondage.
Forgiveness and grief are never easy. I should know; I carried around unnecessary baggage for years. The problem is when we refuse to forgive, we are creating baggage in our lives, and we will carry this baggage as long as we refuse to let go of it.
This “baggage” can become so burdensome we miss out on what’s really important in life. It leads to anger and resentment, and this anger and resentment poisons our lives, affects our health, and keeps us from having everything we were meant to have in life.
Nelson Mandela once said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies”.
Holding onto unnecessary anger, resentment, and hatred only leads to more pain, more baggage, and no opportunity to live a life of meaning and purpose.
Don’t believe me? Take a good look at the Middle East.
There is a solution though. By learning to grieve our pasts, and then forgive, we can break those bonds that hold us back and find the happy, meaningful, and abundant life we all deserve.
Step 1 – Understand Your Grief
Regardless of the loss, you’ve suffered, whether it’s a relationship, a job, a family member, or anything else, you need to grieve. Grief helps you accept your loss. By accepting your loss, you can let go of the pain. Loss is a regular part of life, and those losses need to be grieved.
Often your loss will be associated with other people, and often your loss is the result of hurt inflicted on you by another person. Sometimes we are responsible for the hurt and allowed it to happen; other times, in the case of a crime, it’s simply something we have no control over. Without forgiveness, we can never be free, and that’s the next step.
Once you understand the grief process, it’s time to move through the stages. By moving through the stages of grief, then you can begin to heal.
Step 2 – Understand that bad things happen to good people
One of the things I learned in cognitive processing therapy (CPT), a therapy used to process trauma, is the “just world” theory. According to the theory, only good things happen to good people while bad things happen to bad people. Life is fair, and there’s an explanation for everything.
When two of my grandchildren died in the course of five weeks, I was angry at God, at the world, at all the unappreciative parents who got to keep their children, at all the bad people who seemed to have it easy.
After all, I’m a good person. My family is full of good people. My daughters are wonderful people and shouldn’t have had to suffer such a terrible tragedy.
The Bible says it rains on the just and unjust. Bad things happen to good people. That’s life. Whatever God’s purpose in the whole situation, He wasn’t being arbitrary. He wasn’t picking on me or my family. He has a reason for allowing it to happen. Like Job, I just didn’t know what it was. I will probably never know. I can live with that now.
I don’t know why this happened. It doesn’t matter now. What matters is what I chose to do with the situation. I chose to grieve. I chose to let go. I chose to believe that for whatever reason what happened could be turned for good.
What I thought wasn’t rational. I know that. Grief does strange things to people, and any time we experience any kind of major change, we have a grieving process to go through. I grieved. I made peace.
The process isn’t over after grieving.
Step 3 – Understand and find forgiveness so you are free
The next step is to understand what forgiveness is and isn’t, and why it’s so crucial that we do it.
Forgiveness isn’t about saying the other person is right or what the person did is OK. It isn’t. Forgiveness is about recognizing the other person’s wrong and deciding to let go of this wrong so you can move forward with your life.
I forgave the one person I had never forgiven before: ME.
I finally woke up one day and realized the reason I couldn’t forgive was I blamed myself for what happened to my daughters. Because I was powerless over their choices, I thought maybe there was something I didn’t teach them or something I should have done to help them avoid the situation altogether.
That’s the hardest part about forgiveness: wondering what we did to make the situation happen in the first place.
It’s always easier to forgive others than to forgive ourselves. Being perfect is tough. Actually, it’s impossible.
Learning to love ourselves as we are is the first step in learning to love others. Jesus told us to love our neighbor AS ourselves. By loving others, then we can love God. By loving, we can learn to forgive. By forgiving, we can leave the wreckage of the past behind and step forward into the life of our dreams.