Caroline Leaf: Forgive! Part 1 of 4

Written by on May 12, 2014

Have you ever wondered what happens in your little gray cells and the tangible, measurable  thoughts that flow through them when you forgive? And what happens when you don’t forgive?

This 4-part blog series explores what happens in your brain as reported by Dr. Caroline Leaf. Caroline  is a communication pathologist and audiologist who has worked in the area of cognitive neuroscience since 1985. Her pioneering work on neuroplasticity—that changes in thinking actually change the brain and can effect behavioral change—paved the way for her current research on how scientific principles are supported by Scripture and vice versa. She is a prolific author.

Caroline says that forgiveness is the process when we get rid of resentment and bitterness, which are  toxic thoughts. When we release them, we release disease from our brains and bodies. Caroline says:

“Science and Scripture are intermarried. God made science. Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “I lay before you death and life.” You can’t control the events and circumstances of your life, but you can control your reactions to them. We hang onto that pain, because we think, “It hasn’t been acknowledged. It hasn’t been dealt with. I can’t let go of this. Someone’s got to fix this.” That’s toxic!

“There’s a real thought inside your head. Forgiveness is a tremendous act of courage. It’s saying, ‘Okay, Lord, I will cast my burdens upon You. I will give this to You.’ If you keep it physically in your body, you’re increasing your vulnerability to illness.

“We’re entangled in each other’s lives. That’s quantum physics. Whether you like it or not, if you haven’t forgiven, you are connected to a person. If that person is 100,000 miles away from you, and you haven’t forgiven them, even if you were the victim, your body is suffering physically, your soul is suffering, your spiritual development is suffering, and you are also connected to that person.

 “God says you’ve got to give that over to Him and release that. When you do, that thing goes out of you when you forgive. It’s a tremendous act of courage because you’re saying, ‘God, You’re sovereign. You can fix this.’ And the Bible tells us in 2 Thessalonians 1:6, ‘He will repay with retribution those who trouble you.’”


Friend, what physical symptoms do you experience when you don’t forgive?

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  1. Anthony Otten   On   May 13, 2014 at 10:18 am

    You know, Lynn, I forget who said that forgiveness is costly (Tim Keller? Multiple people?) But it’s true. The forgiver absorbs the pain and guilt into himself rather than turning it outward in wrath, which would destroy a relationship. Because no imperfect human can do this for all mistakes, once and for all, God does it for us. He is the prime mover, or you might say, the Prime Forgiver.

    • Lynn Hare   On   May 13, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      Tony, thanks for your comment. The Prime Forgiver? Yes. We can extend grace to others because it was extended to us first by our Heavenly Father. The cost was paid by His Son on the cross – I try to remind myself that I don’t have to pay for it all over again. He forgives me my mess-ups. Now it’s my turn to extend grace and mercy.

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