Q & A

Why is it hard for me to forgive?

Sometimes we find it hard to forgive because we want justice. We want the world to be fair. We want what’s right. And, indeed, we deserve what’s right. We deserve justice. But the problem with the world, is that there is no justice in it. The reality is that the world is broken and every human being is born broken. Broken people see the world through broken thoughts and do and say things that reflect their brokenness. Broken people break hearts.

So there’s no point in waiting for justice. It will not come. And even if it did, it would not satisfy us. Instead, we have to focus on seeking Christ. We have to only work on growing closer to Him. We have to only worry about knowing Him more and more. As we do this, he will quickly respond to our search for him. He will answer us and embrace us with his presence. He will give us his peace. And eventually, the peace of Christ is what will give us the ability to forgive others. Because, if we don’t forgive others we are slaves to our pain, to our resentment, to our anger. But through Christ, we can be free. We can let our pain go and let God heal our wounds. This can take a lifetime. But at least, it will be a lifetime of growing in the Light of Christ instead of a lifetime of shriveling into darkness and prison of our pain.

The Soul, Mind and Body is exactly what Christ came to heal. Each of these has their own medicine but the health of one directly affects the health of the other. For example, the Fathers of the Church teach that many bodily ailments are the results of spiritual (soul) sickness. And many spiritual illnesses are directly the result of the illness of the mind. In fact, most sins begin in the mind and then are carried out in the body which then affect the soul.

For example, if a child is traumatized by repeatedly witnessing violence, either on TV or in person, that experience and the images of the experience remain in his mind. Our brains are constantly working. So our brain will either suppress that experience or image or it will want to process that experience or image into some kind of action. Both of these have unhealthy outcomes. In the first case, the suppressed experience will manifest in other ways. It’s scientifically proven that children who experience or witness violence have a higher percentage of suicide, depression, anxiety, drug-abuse, and other destructive behavior. In the second case, the experience or image of violence will often be acted out because of a desperate search to find meaning or purpose in the experience (due again because of our desire for justice.)

Christ is called the Great Physician. How does he heal the soul, the mind and the body? Remember I said that all of us are born broken. All human beings are born wounded. The Church is the hospital where we find healing through Christ and are restored and renewed. This happens through the life of the Church. Through prayer, through fasting, through alms-giving, through partaking of the sacraments, especially Holy Communion. Through all these tools, the grace of Christ and the Holy Spirit comes upon us and heals us in a very literal way, both physically, emotionally and spiritually. But it’s not a one-time thing. Just as a garden must be watered, cleaned and maintained in order to grow, to be beautiful and to give fruit, so we must constantly be cleansed and nurtured in the spiritual life. Because as long as we are in this body, we will continue to sin with this body. But God will also continue to heal us. No matter how badly we sin.

The key to receiving this grace, forgiveness and healing from Christ is through repentance. Repentance or metania means turning away, it means changing our mind and overcoming our habits and addictions, it means striving to become free from the things that control us. Striving to not be controlled by the desires of our bodies but instead to be masters of our body. Repentance means acknowledging and recognizing that we have sinned and turning to Christ and asking for forgiveness. Not just once, but every day and every time we sin. Even if we sin every day, we have to get up and ask for forgiveness every day, and Christ will forgive us every time. Even until our final breath.

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