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Forgiveness key to well-being Jakes writes

forgiveness on Stories - Bishop T.D. Jakes is tired of the incivility and unrelenting hostility he sees in the world. Daily he hears from people who are stressed out and angry, sometimes after years of harboring negative feelings about incidents in which they were wronged. Forgive So You Can Be Forgiven has been out just a week but is already causing a stir. Forgiveness gives peace inside the individual and, to me, that commodity is priceless.

Q: So is forgiveness, then, really a tool for personal growth?

A: I think it is, and for spiritual growth as well. It's an opportunity to preserve our energy for the highest purpose … instead of maintaining the toxic emotion of regret.

Q: It seems like there are a lot of angry people in the world right now.

A: Yes, and it's in the church and outside of it. We're told to forgive but not how. And sometimes we think forgiveness exonerates the people who harmed us, and that's not true. Forgiveness is the gift you give yourself.

Q: You write about how we can acknowledge harm, confront those who have harmed and then let an apology do its work. But forgiveness isn't just about forgiving those who have asked for it, is it?

A: No, because this is the problem - if somebody asks for forgiveness, the power's still in the hands of the perpetrator. Many people are angry with God or themselves or people who are deceased or have moved away. If apology is a criteria, they're never going to get it.

Q: A pastor once told me that he believed that anger and holding grudges, a lack of forgiveness, could make people physically ill. Do you believe that?

A: That's one of the things that I researched. I talked to medical professionals and psychologists and psychiatrists. Across the board there was a concern for this kind of negative energy. It escalates illnesses and makes us vulnerable to physical and mental disorders.

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