In forgiving and restoring peace, we set an example and give a gift to future generations.
When we think of Christmas, we think of friends, family, love, happiness, and cheer. However, the holidays can also be ripe with fights, arguments, and misunderstandings. Often, family tensions run high this time of year because of a year's worth of issues and misunderstandings—not to mention natural holiday stress.
Your sister doesn’t get along with your dad. Mom is mad because your brother and his family aren’t coming home for Christmas because they are going to be with his wife’s family. Your husband doesn’t like your sister-in-law, and the list goes on. Uncle Joe is an alcoholic and hard to be around. Aunt Mary is a perfectionist and nothing anyone does is good enough for her. The list of issues can go on and on, causing holiday misery for everyone.
We all know that holding onto grudges and being mad for long periods of time is not good. Instead of getting caught up in the negative emotions of the season, why not try some forgiveness this holiday season?
What is forgiveness?
Let’s start with the definition of forgiveness. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of forgiveness is to cease to feel resentment toward the offending person.
What Does the Bible Say About Forgiveness?
Well, Jesus expects us to forgive others that hurt us. Some verses that exemplify this are:
“Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
“But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” (Mark 11:25)
“Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Colossians 3:13)
Reasons to Forgive
The act of forgiveness can either be an easy or very hard thing to do. It’s easy to forgive a friend who calls and cancels plans because her child is sick. Now forgiving the parent who abused and mistreated you during your childhood is very hard to forgive. Regardless, it needs to be done and everyone has their own timing and healing process.
No matter your life story and relationship strains, here are some reasons we should forgive others and not hold on to grudges and hurt this holiday season:
1. Jesus expects us to forgive those who hurt us, no matter how hard it is. We need to remember that he is always with us and will guide us in every circumstance.
2. When we think about those who have hurt us or offended us, it is so easy to stew about what happened, went wrong, or what was said. This is not healthy. We become emotionally healthier by reducing anger when we forgive someone.
3. Forgiveness helps repair relationships. When we forgive someone, it helps us to see someone’s worth. We do our best to look past the offense and see the person for who they truly are.
4. Forgiveness grows our character and helps us grow as people.
5. In forgiving, we extend friendship (within reason) to the offending party, even if they reject it.
6. We set an example for future generations. Spending the holidays fighting and bickering among family members is not fun or healthy for children to witness. I know this because my dad and his parents fought and nitpicked at each other every holiday season. It wasn’t fun, believe me.
In forgiving the person who hurt or offended us, we show our children that it is not right to hold grudges and stay mad at people. In forgiving and restoring peace, we set an example and give a gift to future generations.
7. Forgiveness extinguishes anger. When we stay upset, anger controls our lives. When we forgive, we attempt to be better people.
8. In forgiving someone, we exercise goodness, no matter how the other person may react.
9. By forgiving others, we forgive ourselves. This may sound confusing to some people and they may be thinking, why do I have to forgive myself? Holding a grudge against someone is about more than just the person who hurt you. It’s also about what you have allowed to happen to you.
Sometimes we can’t help what happens to us in relationships because we are going about our daily routine and things happen. Most of the time, we don’t know someone is angry at us until everything blows up.
When we forgive ourselves, we recognize we didn’t know, understand, or act to have short-circuited the issue. When you forgive yourself, you open yourself up to healing from the hurt that you are feeling.
10. Forgiveness moves us out of a victim mode and breaks the bonds of negativity from this person. When we forgive, we can heal and decide how the future of our life looks with or without said person. We can move ahead, become stronger, and live mentally and emotionally healthy lives.
11. Forgiveness is freeing in that you take your power back. By forgiving, you can take back all the energy you used on anger, resentment, frustration, etc. and channel it into something better and more positive for your life.
12. Forgiveness is good for your health. When we have a lot of negative emotions, it takes its toll on our energy, mind, body, sleep, etc. We all know how uncomfortable it is to be at odds with someone over something. When we forgive, we let go of all that and move into a healthier state of being. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief.
13. Forgiveness encourages compassion. In being able to relate to others on a human level and feel for others, we extend compassion. Forgiveness allows us to put the past behind us and move into a life of peace.
14. Forgiveness leads to joy. When we forgive someone, we are no longer held down by stress. We are free to go on and live joyous lives, compared to not forgiving, which causes the stress we feel to go on and on.
15. Forgiveness is life-changing. When we forgive someone, love is the result. This love comes from us loving a God who forgives our sins and also from the person we have forgiven. When we understand the depth of our sin and the amazing depth of God’s love for us and with the tenderness he forgives us, we are inspired to give more freely and more often.
16. Forgiveness helps us respect God in a deeper way. Many people take having “a fear of the Lord” in the wrong context, as if we should be afraid of God. This is quite the opposite.
We shouldn’t be afraid of God, but have a healthy fear of him and respect him. This is because he could condemn all of us and would be justified if he did so. We have all sinned and fallen short of him.
Although he can do this, we remember he paid the price for our sins on the cross and paid the penalty so that only he can offer forgiveness. When we understand these things, we have a greater sense of his power and mercy and we respect him more.
There are many reasons forgiving people is the best option for our relationships this holiday season. Let’s take some time to search our hearts and souls and decide to choose forgiveness and peace this holiday season.
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