«YOU shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord» (Leviticus 19: 18).
Since Dr. Fred Luskin initiated the Forgiveness Project [Forgive for Good] at Stanford University, many researchers and therapists joined in the effort of bringing forgiveness into people’s practical life. It basically consists of developing forgiveness through psychotherapy, emphasizing the fact that it is a personal decision. It has the potential of changing the present condition of the one who forgives, without waiting the change in the person who caused the harm.
In order to evaluate the efficiency of the forgiveness-based therapies on people’s mental health, researchers from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom conducted a systematic review of the studies published in this field. The evidence showed that the forgiveness theory improves different aspects of the mental health of populations who experienced harmful situations or violence. Forgiveness-based interventions are efficient in reducing depression, anger, hostility and distress, as well as in promoting positive affect and mental well-being. This is how they presented it in the article «Forgiveness Therapy for the Promotion of Mental Well-Being: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.»
However, one of the most important obstacles in forgiving consists in keeping the grievances alive in our memory. It is difficult to forgive when the offender is constantly present in our mind. It is difficult when the consequences of the harm are still felt. Even so, the more difficult the situation, the greater is the positive influence of forgiveness.
After spending twenty-seven years in prison because of his fight against racial segregation or the apartheid in South Africa, Nelson Mandela declared: «I cannot forget, but I can forgive;» and thus he brought strength and impetus to the commitment of keeping peace and reconciliation with the minority of the white race in his country. By granting them forgiveness, he displayed his most noble qualities and stood out as the President of the South African nation and was considered the Father of the Nation. Internationally, he was recognized through numerous awards and honorary accolades, among which was the Nobel Peace Prize.
There is still time to join the forgiveness project. Through His Spirit, God wishes to imprint the features of loving forgiveness in those who accept His offer.