[I’ve been grappling with the concept of forgiveness for a long time. Not practicing it ruined my life for years; I’ve seen it destroy many a Christian and what passed as their “faith.” For more than ten years I’ve seen it played out on the field of health and sickness and watched patients literally die for the lack of it. Through a series of non-consecutive posts I want to think out loud as I try to gel my thoughts into a consistent approach that may help folks deal with the issue that is destroying their lives. I don’t like long posts so I will try to not write them – if I do, ignore them. or read them and ‘forgive’ me.]
“Forgive him? Excuse me?”
She had cancer.
She had beaten it three years ago. Cured. No trace found. Clean.
Yet, here she was in my office. “It” had returned and had done so with a vengeance. No longer in her lungs, it had metastasized everywhere. So here she sat, softly sobbing, asking me, “What happened?” and “Why?”
Perhaps the central tenet of Christianity revolves around the issue of forgiveness. It doesn’t help that it is also the most misunderstood tenet of Christianity. We make it sound so easy, so simple; it is probably one of the most difficult things we are ever called on to do.
She had always been a “good Christian.” She had the picture perfect life: three children, a successful husband, big house, boat and big screen tv. She went to church every Sunday. She even helped others who were needy. But she hid a dirty secret. From the age of eight she had been viciously sexually abused by a brother and an uncle. Growing into her teen years, she had been molested by her youth pastor. And, to add insult to injury, her husband had had multiple affairs during their fifteen years of marriage.
When Liz first came to see me, her cancer had “suddenly” appeared with a ferociousness that surprised her physicians.
Chemo and radiation were not options due to the nature of the tumor and its location.
I deal with people almost daily who are suffering from a lack of forgiveness. Some need to receive it while others need to offer it. “Need” isn’t used carelessly. Both groups desperately require it in order to be whole. It is interesting to see the recent medical link between unresolved anger/ hate and the effect on our body. It causes sickness. It is not God. It is not the devil. It is our unforgiveness – and its children of repressed anger, hate, resentment and grief – that causes much sickness and even the development of cancer.
“I hate him, I hate them. All of them!”
The words poured out like hot lava. She was oblivious to my presence; her face was contorted and she spit the words out with an anger that was frightening.
Our minds create feelings for one purpose – to be expressed. Unexpressed negative feelings trapped in our body causes physical illness over time. These repressed negative feelings increase the level of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol has gained fame in studies around the world as the hormone responsible for suppressing the immune system’s functioning. A sloppy immune system allows the cancer cells that exist in every human being to explode in growth and form tumors. Additionally, suppression of anger, hate, resentment and grief can also damage the emotional reflex center in the brain, causing it to slowly break down. When this occurs, the brain starts sending incorrect information to the body’s organs, resulting in the formation of deformed (cancer) cells in that organ. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, these high stress levels deplete the body’s adrenaline reserves; this creates the perfect cancer environment.
“If you don’t forgive them, you may die.”
The look she gave me could stop a Sherman tank in its tracks.
[To be continued]