Did you give up something for Lent? If so, “How’s it going?” How did you decide what to give up? I think about this every year. Should I give up something I love to eat? If so, “What?” Most of us choose something like a food we really enjoy, and maybe we enjoy it a little too much. Some choose to give up a bad habit, hoping it will help break the habit for good. According to Christianity Today*, a recent article cited only two food-related items in the top five for 2018: alcohol and chocolate. The other three were social media, Twitter and swearing. I found this curious. It started me thinking that I don’t have a particular food that has a hold on me—not any more. I’m not addicted to social media, I don’t tweet and rarely use swear words.
Is there something that tempts me to act apart from Christ?
Is there possibly another behavior that has a hold on me? What am I struggling with right now? I pray and ask God to search my heart for anything that is not pleasing to Him. Of course, He is true to His word that if we ask, He will show us. How about a pinch of revenge and a smidgen of unforgiveness? Yep, that’s what I need to give up. All of us experience hurt and wounding at some time in our lives. It could have been something done to you years ago or just this past week. And the thing is that the closer the person who hurt you the deeper the hurt. Many of you have experienced betrayal from a spouse, being unjustly fired from a job or maybe stabbed in the back by a close friend. The feelings of anger and bitterness are real. During 40 years of ministry I have experienced wounds, even from the church. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting or excusing the harm done. It means that I give up my right to hurt them back. I’m not saying it is easy, but it is possible through the power of Christ. Unforgiveness may not be like alcohol and kill my brain cells. It may not be like smoking and destroying my lungs. But what it can do is just as deadly. The Bible tells us that if I choose not to forgive, it could grow into a root of bitterness, defile some and cause many to miss the grace of God. That’s what it could do to others. What could it do to me? Psalm 31:10 says, My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction and my bones grow weak.
Letting go of bitterness and revenge brings peace to my spirit and health and life to my body. According to studies from Mayo Clinic**, practicing forgiveness can lead to many health benefits including:
If I choose to live by my personal vision statement: to live as long and as strong as I can; to follow Christ and serve others, I have to let it go. It’s not too late for you to choose to give up something. It does not have to be for Lent, but maybe for yourself and the cause of Christ. You will be better, stronger, happier and healthier for it. I’m singing with Elsa and…Letting It Go!
Vicki Heath holds the following titles: First Place 4 Health National Director, American Council on Exercise, Certified Fitness Instructor, Certified Life Coach and Wellness Coordinator for her church in Edisto Beach, SC. Vicki is a Body & Soul Fitness instructor and Area Director. She is the author of Don’t Quit Get Fit and Wellness Journey of a Lifetime. She has been a successful leader in the health and wellness community for over twenty years. Vicki is a popular conference and event speaker. For more information you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.