What a great day. In fact, I personally suggest celebrating this holiday every day, but we will start with today.
Why should you celebrate?
According to John Hopkins University: Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression and stress. And research points to an increase in the forgiveness-health connection as you age
The Mayo Clinic writes:
Forgiveness can lead to:
❤️ Healthier relationships
❤️ Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
❤️ Less anxiety, stress and hostility
❤️ Lower blood pressure
❤️ Fewer symptoms of depression
❤️ Stronger immune system
❤️ Improved heart health
❤️ Higher self-esteem
I would say the health based evidence is an obvious reason to celebrate today’s holiday. When we choose to hold on to our anger, hurt, and resentment; we choose to harm ourselves. Being hurt by someone is not a choice. We cannot anticipate the actions of others with great success. Allowing ourselves to remain hurt is our choice.
We choose every day how we are going to proceed. We are not spinning tops on a table aimlessly twirling. We are souls filled with choices. Every choice requires an action. Every action produces a reaction. We have the ability to change the direction of our lives at any moment. Yet, for many, we remain stagnant and immobilized in our fear of decision making.
We would rather blindly follow. We prefer the decision made for us. We enjoy the comfort of not being the one to blame. However, that is all a lie we tell ourselves. We pretend that the decision was made for us, but neglect to realize we chose to comply. Our actions were decided by us, even if the suggestion was made by another.
Let me give an example of this. Once, my husband and I were out with friends (the newlyweds). We were traveling to another town, and opted to carpool. Moments in to the journey we both knew we should have driven separately. From the initial exit of the driveway the couple we would spend the day with began to argue. He commented on her lack of navigational skills, she pointed out his inability to obey the speed limits…it was an amazing time. At the end of our long journey, we came to the destination. I was never so happy to see a parking lot in all my life. I knew that we were moments away from escape. Then it happened. Our fearless driver turned to her verbal sparring partner and said “Where should I park?” Keep in mind; we are in a parking lot with thousands of available spots. The building we were arriving at had one entrance. This was not a decision that needed a vote. My husband and I glanced at one another with confusion. Her husband merely shrugged and said “Anywhere”. I will never forget the next moment. Her fingers tightened on the steering wheel, and her glance became furious. From deep within her thirty year old throat, I swear I heard a growl. She again asked “Where should I park?” At this point I was contemplating leaping from the car and running for my life. Her husband again, though slightly more irritated, said “Anywhere.” Then the most curious phrase crossed her lips. She stopped the car, fully turned her body and shouted “WHY CAN’T YOU MAKE A DECISION?!?” I felt the tune of the Twilight Zone creeping into my mind. Was she serious? Were they joking? Wouldn’t the parking decision fall on the driver. What was I missing? At this point one of the most passive aggressive arguments ever witnessed peaked and the two began pointing fingers, shouting, and lacerating one another with their words. At some point, she parked and we exited the vehicle. We spent the day in an awkward segregation. My husband and I would talk to her, then him, but never both. The animosity was tangible. To this day, when my husband and I pull into a large parking lot we smile and say “Where should I park?” For the record, my friends are still married, and still have the same arguments. We never carpool anymore though (partly because we live in different cities now)
I share this example to illustrate what we all do in one way or another. We make it a habit to give our decision making away. We like to say we had no choice. But just as my friend was in control of the vehicle, we are in control of our choices. We decide to allow things to fester, and burrow in our lives. We decide to let our emotions dictate our days. We decide that the words and deeds of another supersede our own desires. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can use today’s holiday to free ourselves from the bitterness of withholding forgiveness. We can walk out of the prison we locked ourselves in. We can choose to forgive those who deserve it least. In the end, it is you who benefits from forgiveness the most.
So my request of you today is this: Decide today that you value yourself. Decide that no matter what the wrong was, you are big enough to forgive it. The beauty of forgiveness is this. It requires no effort on the part of the guilty. We simply make a decision and follow through with action. Forgive someone today. Make up with someone you love. Let go of the resentment and hurt. Kiss and Make Up.