Jackie McKool

Unforgiveness: The Wholistic Affects to Our Health


“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
(Matthew 6-14-15)

Unforgiveness.  It starts as a bitter seed and festers and grows deep in your spirit.  If left there unchecked, it can eventually alter the entire course of your life.  It brings destruction to our entire being, as well as those around us – unforgiveness can go far and wide.

Over the years I have served on a variety of healing ministry teams.  One of the very first things the leaders and developers of these ministries teaches is to ask the participant about unforgiveness.  They know, and I’ve learned, the vitalness of the ramifications unforgiveness can have in blocking the individual from receiving their healing.  I’ve also seen and experienced first-hand – both as a minister of healing, as well as for myself personally, the freedom that comes when forgiveness is released.

I think we’ve all been there at one time or another – hopefully it has been short-lived, you were able to forgive, and life goes on.  I know I have.  For me it probably had mostly come in the season of my life where there were perpetual dysfunctional relationships.  I would be wronged – lied to, used, and not valued, mostly.  I used to half-jokingly say I felt like that clown punching bag that was around when we were kids – the bottom was filled with sand, and it had a big red nose and a stupid grin on its face.  You’d punch it in the nose, it would fall towards the ground, but then quite quickly it would bounce right back up again, still wearing that stupid grin.  I don’t know if this was a good analogy for me to be like – perhaps I needed to establish better boundaries, but this comparison for myself had more to do with forgiveness.  Fortunately, for the most part, unforgiveness hasn’t been one of my greater weaknesses, but I have experienced it on occasions over the years.  Primarily as a result of those whom I was closest to, or trusted the most.  Betrayal is hard, and it certainly can open the door to unforgiveness.  Perhaps you have experienced the same at times in your life?  Have you forgiven or are you still holding onto that root of bitterness, perhaps many years later?

Let’s take a little deeper look at the wholistic affects to our lives – mental, emotional, physical and spiritual – when we hold unforgiveness in our hearts.  Then we can take a look at how to overcome it.

Spiritual Effects

What the Bible says: “As you forgive others so Your Father in Heaven forgives you” (Matthew 6:14).  This same verse in Mark 11:24 (The Living Bible) follows after Jesus just taught us “You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you have it, it’s yours!”  Another words, His promise of answering our prayers (when they are in line with His Word), is dependent on us forgiving anyone we may be holding unforgiveness towards, so that He can first forgive us.  Forgiveness is more about freeing ourselves, than it is rendering freedom to someone who has wronged us.  God will take care of them in the way He sees fit, we are not to do that – “Vengeance is Mine says the Lord, I will repay” (Romans 12:19b NKJV).  Bottom line: unforgiveness will hinder our blessings from God – including healing.

Emotional Effects

Unforgiveness leads to bitterness and resentment, or bitterness and resentment can lead to unforgiveness – either way, when we allow the wrongs that have been done to us – real or perceived – to fester in us, and take up their home in our hearts and in our minds, it becomes a snowball effect on our lives as long as we allow those things to take up residency.  I know a man who has been holding unforgiveness towards his own children since they were teenagers, and they are now in their early 40’s – twenty plus years of his life.  Yes, they too have severely suffered the consequences of his unforgiveness, but he has as well.  It started when one of the sons became irresponsible with a large sum of money he was awarded as an 18-year old.  His irresponsibility eventually caused some financial problems for his Dad.  The Dad allowed the root of bitterness towards his son to enter his heart.  Over the years that bitterness and resentment has taken a strong root hold in the spirit of unforgiveness, and he truly has become an extremely bitter man towards many who have been a part of his life over those many years, including myself.  He has allowed 20+ years of this horrible, negative emotion to control his life.  He has been estranged from both of his sons, as well as 3 grandchildren, 2 of whom he has never met.  All because an 18-year old was irresponsible with some money.  Truly, I don’t know that they even know to this day why their father despises them so badly.  I can’t imagine carrying this kind of spiritual/emotional baggage around for 20 years, can you?  And the worst part?  He’s hateful towards God as well.

Physical Effects

Unforgiveness is a negative emotion.  Anything negative in our mind, also has a negative, adverse effect to our physical bodies as well.  Unforgiveness is stress to the body, it causes an acidic pH systemically in the body, and it is actually very toxic.  All of these, cause inflammation in the body, leading to any number of health conditions like heart disease, cardiovascular problems, digestive disorders, even things like auto-immune conditions and yes, cancers.  Cancers and chronic degenerative diseases thrive in an acid, inflammatory environment in our bodies.  Unforgiveness is extreme stress to the body, causing this type of environment.  If you feel like you have turned over every stone you know to turn over to overcome a chronic health condition, be sure to check your spiritual and emotional health for unforgiveness.  Has this stone been over-turned?

Mental Effects

When long-standing unforgiveness is present in one’s life, it can’t help but eventually consume your thoughts, your words, your actions – and in most cases unknowingly.  Over time it then moves to the subconscious and can literally change your personality – from who you were meant to be, to who you have become – an angry, negative, bitter person.  Unforgiveness can even dictate how you spend your time – where you go or don’t go, your work performance, even poor time-management due to loss of sleep.  Have you ever avoided, or worse denied yourself going somewhere or doing something with loved ones simply because a person you hold unforgiveness towards will be there as well?  Unforgiveness can literally control our lives.  And worst of all?  We most likely don’t even realize it has consumed and changed us – for the worse.


Signs You May Have Unforgiveness on Your Heart

  • Do you keep replaying the wrong in your mind? What emotions are stirred up?
  • Are you consistently a negative person?
  • Do you find that you are consistently bitter, resentful, or angry, especially when around, or even just the name of, a certain person comes up?
  • Are you an overly sensitive person, opening doors to ongoing unforgiveness?
  • Do you blame someone, anyone, other than yourself for wrongs that have taken place in your life?

“Yes” to any one of these could be a strong sign that you are holding unforgiveness in your heart.

What is Forgiveness?

  • It doesn’t mean forget, but forgive. Give yourself permission to have boundaries when necessary.  Just because you forgive doesn’t mean you are allowing the offender to continue their offensive behavior.
  • Forgiveness is not a feeling, it’s a choice. You might still feel tremendous hurt and pain, but when you make the choice to forgive, Papa God says He removes it as far as the east is from the west. Trust and believe in Him that He has taken that unforgiveness from you when you choose to do so.
  • Forgiveness is a spiritual act – it truly takes surrendering to God, over, and over, and over again if we have to!
  • The enemy would like nothing more than for you to block your relationship with Father God through unforgiveness, so stand up and fight against him and this sin – don’t take it back after you’ve surrendered it to the Father.
  • Forgiveness brings deliverance – it’s not to set the other person free, it’s to set YOU free!
  • God is the vindicator, He’s Your Counselor and Your Advocate, your responsibility is to just trust Him with the consequences, even if it seems like the offender has gotten away with their offense – God’s ways and timing are always perfect.

How to Forgive

First – Who?

  • Others – this is the primary place we should look first – too often our pride lifts up and we are quick to blame someone else for a wrong in our life. But there certainly can be true offenses taken by others whom we need to forgive as well.  Remember, this is not about over-looking their wrong, this is about setting your heart, mind and spirit free from the burden of unforgiveness.  This is healing for you.  In the process, they too may become repentant and set free as well.
  • God – Do you ever find yourself needing to blame someone and God is it? After all, He can control anything and everything that happens to you, right?  Why did He allow this to happen?  Unfortunately, while He can, we live in a fallen world and His ways are higher than our ways.  Just because we don’t see His bigger picture, trusting He has our best in mind, always needs to be enough to not hold Him responsible for the hurt that has been rendered us.
  • Self – ahh, there is one you might not have thought about. Do you hold unforgiveness towards yourself? Perhaps some dumb choice or decision you made?  Maybe because your self-worth is so low, and you don’t know just how valuable you truly are, that placing blame, and therefore unforgiveness towards yourself is the only logical place to ever look.  Release yourself now by forgiving yourself – you are not perfect, only God is.  We all make mistakes, but no wrong is too big for God to right for you.  Give it to Him and watch and see what He does with that!
  • Whole people groups – Do you find yourself resenting, and ultimately even holding unforgiveness towards entire groups of people? Perhaps it’s people who don’t think like you, look like you, vote like you, or worship like you?  We can collectively lump all similar people into one group, and hold the hold kitten caboodle in unforgiveness and they don’t even know it!
  • Wrong views – similar to whole people groups. Have you been taught a wrong view on something that is offensive to you to the point that it makes you bitter, and angry and resentful towards anyone who has differing views from you?  Try and look at through God’s eyes instead of our limited view.

Then How?

  • Nip that offense in the butt – cut it off at the pass as soon as you become aware.
  • Don’t mind read by assuming you know someone’s motives, thoughts and behaviors – you know what happens when we “assume” – most of the time we are dead wrong but it’s already grabbed hold of our mind.
  • Trace that negative emotion back to its root as soon as you become aware that it is there. When did your mood shift, what offense did you take on that you need to let go of?   Do so immediately.
  • Ask yourself: where or how did it come in, and then surrender that offense or unforgiveness back to God.
  • Let it go! Most offenses aren’t even worth your time, but they sure can add to, and grow into something greater if we don’t shake it from the beginning.
  • Sit and be still before God and ask Him to show you to whom you might be holding unforgiveness towards?  Where did it first come in (it could have been years ago) and how did it take hold?  Take time, and let God show you each person, including yourself and Him, then one by one, release them and the wrongs that have been rendered to you, to Him.
  • Repeat this process whenever you feel God laying it on your heart that there is unforgiveness there. Sometimes, the pain of the offense can be so deep that He will gently pry your fingers from that unforgiveness in His perfect timing and way.  Let Him bring it to your awareness when necessary.
  • Repent of your unforgiveness once the awareness has been brought to you.
  • Lastly, pray for the person who has wronged you and to whom you are rendering forgiveness.

To book Dr. Jackie for speaking engagements go to:

Why Forgive?

  • God says so, and it’s a sin not to.
  • For your physical well-being.
  • For your emotional peace of mind.
  • For the love you have for others around you who have been subjected to your resentment, bitterness, anger and unforgiveness.
  • So your Father in Heaven can not only forgive you, but bless you!

In Summary

Unforgiveness can affect all aspects of our wholistic health – mental, emotional, physical and spiritual.  If we want to be healthy and whole, and receive it from the only place our health comes from – God – then we need to forgive so He can forgive us and bless us with all Heavenly blessings – mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually!

See more of these blogs, in case you missed them, for greater insight to the Truth About Wellness:

“Fasting, What Does God Say About It?”
“Food Addicts, Are You One of Them?”
“Rest, It’s More Than You Think”

To read more on Unforgiveness, and how it can affect us wholistically I recommend:

“The Bait of Satan” by John Bevere and
“Deadly Emotions” by Dr. Don Colbert

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