After an amazing forgiveness experience last week, I read this article by Desmond Tutu about the importance of forgiveness, including the Science of Forgiveness (what science is learning about how forgiveness affects our health):

Without a plan, or any expectations of any kind, I found myself on the phone last week with the relative who sexually abused me when I was 4.  I’d actually forgiven him in 2001, but hadn’t an opportunity to let him know that until last week.  What I’d never received, but had always hoped for, was an acknowledgement and an apology from him….so here we were on the phone and I thought to ask for an apology…and he gave it to me wholeheartedly.  When the call ended, I cried with relief, with the surprise of receiving something I thought I’d never get.

It seems most people think it strange that I forgave him, but they don’t yet know that forgiveness is for ourselves, not the other person.  It doesn’t mean I condone what happened. I forgive to free myself.  Even though I forgave him in my heart over a decade ago, I felt even freer after both hearing his apology, and being able to let him know I forgave him.

Pear Tile 3

In the article on forgiveness, I learned that forgiveness is scientifically linked to greater health.  Not forgiving can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, and other diseases.  Holding resentments causes dis-ease, both mentally and physically.

I recognize a great gift that resulted from my childhood sexual abuse:  My art.  I began sculpting labia in clay to heal, and now it’s transformed into something that brings me joy and happiness. When it’s said that in pain lie gifts, they aren’t kidding!  I feel better the more I’m able to forgive, which, I’m sure, leads to more peace on the planet.