Under the right conditions, tree roots can go as far as twenty feet deep. At this depth, a tree can withstand strong winds and storms. But it requires planting a seed first.
When we plant the seed of unforgiveness, we’re beginning to plant roots. It can start with feeling slighted by what someone said or feeling left out.
According to Dr. Karen Swartz at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, “There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed.” The research goes on to say that “chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health.” *
Living in the forest, the recent pine beetle epidemic has destroyed hundreds of thousands of trees. During the dry season, these trees served as kindling for forest fires. And now, in the midst of storms, the weak branches are falling like toothpicks, creating power outages and obstructing our daily drive.
Similarly, our unforgiveness can be fuel for other fires–bitterness, anger, resentment–destroying those around us. And when just the right moment strikes, we can lash out, blaming others for our lack of cutting down our unforgiveness.
Webster defines unforgiveness as “(1) unwilling or unable to forgive or (2) having or making no allowance for error or weakness.” So often we’re quick to blame and self-protect. Our prides rises to our defense. Therefore, rather than admit our unwillingness or choice to not forgive, it’s easier to have an excuse. The truth is we want our own mistakes to be forgiven, even forgotten, but we’re unwilling to allow for those in anyone else.
The roots of unforgiveness go deep. We need to do what is necessary to excavate.
What roots are we planting today?