I have been amazed at the enthusiasm with which men have talked about forgiveness in our discussions in recent weeks. (You can read an article on the subject by following this link.)
Forgiveness typically is defined as the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake, and/or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.
If you read that sentence carefully, that is a tall order. In our discussions recently about forgiveness, many men say they struggle with this topic–and in fact there’s some reason to believe that men may have a more difficult time with forgiveness than do women. Perhaps this is because of our competitive nature, our strong desire to be right, or whatever. It really doesn’t matter.
What does matter is to be aware that we are not required to be bound by the behaviors of the past and that we can grant and receive forgiveness whenever we like!
In our discussions, most men have acknowledged that when they withhold forgiveness, it is they who suffer. It can result in high blood pressure, tension and other health problems. On the other hand, letting go of grudges and bitterness makes way for compassion, kindness and peace.
Forgiveness can lead to:
- Healthier relationships
- Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
- Less stress and hostility
- Lower blood pressure
- Fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety and chronic pain
- Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse (Mayo Clinic)
If that isn’t enough to make us believe in forgiveness, perhaps we need to go back to the examples of Jesus in the New Testament and see what we can learn. Do you remember the “seventy times seven” reference, for example?
Implications for marriage
It is also important to note that forgiveness can come slowly for men in their marriage. Presumably this is because there are numerous opportunities for small hurts and offenses as we navigate the waters of matrimony on a daily basis. But a simple “I’m sorry” is often all that is needed to put issues behind us and move forward with our lives. Again, this is not always easy, but the payoff can be dramatic.
If you’d like to continue this discussion online, go to our blog and weigh in on the subject.