How to Forgive?

I struggle with forgiveness. I especially have trouble forgiving repeat offenders, and there are a couple of people in my life who I feel have sinned against me more times than 7×70, even though I realize that Christ was being rhetorical.

I struggle.

How do I forgive someone? If I could just decide to forgive them, then I would, but I don’t know how! I try to remember that I’m no better than anyone else, that my sins are as grotesque as anyone else’s. I remind myself that when I sin, I do it willfully, because I know better, and that’s even worse than someone who is just floating along in life randomly stumbling and sinning. I remind myself that Christ died for the whole world, and I’m just one member of that population.

But then I think, “But so-and-so’s not even trying! Why do I have to forgive them? They’re not even sorry!”

Yesterday I read something that may indeed help me: “How can Joseph do this? How can he forgive his brothers? I think the answer lies in his mature and settled conviction that God has been sovereign in the events of his life, telling his brothers, ‘It was not you who sent me here, but God.’ ”

When the Bottom Drops Out by Robert Bugh, pg. 76

Then again on page 83: “Did you catch that? God is somehow using your suffering for His global purposes.”

I am hoping that this perspective will help me forgive more readily. Next time I feel at a loss to find forgiveness, I’m going to see if it works. I really think it will! I’m excited because this is something I have struggled with for a very long time. I see now that my lack of forgiveness is a lack of trust in God’s ultimate plan for my life. No more! I can see more clearly now.

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9 responses to “How to Forgive?

  1. I struggle with this too, mostly with certain family members. I pray and pray for God’s guidance about it, and for long periods of time I will truly feel forgiveness toward them. Then they will do something (like they always do) that brings it all right back to the surface to fester again. It’s really hard when those patterns of manipulation/emotional abuse have been aimed at you for years and the offenders don’t ever change but you know you are expected too.

    • Sherri,
      This is exactly the type of situation that I am in. I love these people, and I want to forgive them, and I am truly grateful that they have forgiven me for things in the past. I am also grateful for God’s forgiveness in my life. But I still struggle almost on a weekly basis. I see them way too often, and there’s always something new. Or something old that won’t go away. It would greatly hurt them if I tried to distance myself from them. I must learn to forgive them.

  2. I think that forgiveness is good, but that along with the temptations of free-will is the gift of being able to forgive and remove ourselves from people who are hurtful to us.

    I try to accept people as they are, and not how I feel they should be. But when someone repeatedly hurts me or uses me for their own gain then I begin to evaluate if they are a positive presesence in my life vs. how much I’m giving to them and is my presesence in their lives a positive one.

    To help me let go of my anger, I just meditate on things like the following to myself: “I accept you as you are. I forgive you as much as I am able to right now. We are all flawed and must work to be better, but I cannot force change upon another. I am allowed to walk away, but I shouldn’t walk away with anger in my heart.”

    I think we choose to ignore that sometimes the willingness to hold people accountable for their flaws is a gift in itself, because it makes us feel judgemental. But the only way to help people is to be honest with them which means sometimes not being polite or even the modern vernacular of “good”.

    Correct actions and nice actions are not always the same thing.

    • Believe me, I would distance myself if I could, but I love them and want what’s best for them. I am afraid I will greatly hurt them if I ignore them or uninvite them from my home. I just don’t know how to change the frequency with which I have to deal with them. I really, really want to be able to forgive them each time, and float peacefully through the rest of my life. It’s really hard for me to accept the fact that I cannot change them. I am used to having rational conversations, and usually people can see my point, even if they don’t agree. I have even tried telling them how much their behavior hurts me, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Nothing changes. So. I can’t change them, I can’t get away, so I am left with changing myself. It’s the only thing I can control, but so many times I am at a loss for even doing that. I just don’t know how! Hopefully this new perspective will help me. I’ll just have to pray about it some more and wait to see.

  3. Forgiveness is a real challenge for me, too, because I’m such a persistent grudge-holder. There are stupid annoyances that happened to me as a 4-year-old, and I’ll *still* get mad thinking about it. On one level, it’s kind of hilarious. But seriously, I need to learn when and how to *let it go*.

    • It’s hard to let things go though, isn’t it? I wonder how many people are still holding a grudge against me for something that I don’t even remember? I have the tendency to think that I am a new person, almost on a daily basis. Those unkind words I spoke the other day? That wasn’t me, it was a different version of me. But I am not that person today. I just wish I could find it as easy to look at other people as becoming new every day. Does my rambling make sense?

      • “I wonder how many people are still holding a grudge against me for something that I don’t even remember?” — A sobering thought, that!

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