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How to Forgive When You’re Struggling with Forgiveness

In the Bible, forgiveness is spoken of often. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-32).” 

Forgiving others means letting go of resentment and giving up any claim to be compensated for the hurt or loss we have suffered. However, this can sometimes be easier said than done.

One reason we resist forgiving is that we don’t fully understand what it means to forgive or how to do it. And “if [we] hold on to that pain, [we] might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, [we] also can embrace peace and hope (”

Pathfinders Pastoral Care Ministries aims to help individuals manage their experiences and move forward in forgiveness and in faith. So what does forgiveness mean? The first step to understanding forgiveness is learning what it is and isn't.

Understanding Forgiveness 

You have likely heard the saying “forgive and forget,” but forgiveness is not about forgetting, excusing or accepting behaviors, or letting someone “off the hook.” Forgiveness is about returning to God the right to take care of justice. Forgiveness is about recognizing that we are all human, and holding each other - and ourselves - accountable for our actions. 

When it comes to granting forgiveness, always remember: 

  • Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. You will always be reminded and triggered by memories, but forgiveness means that you are choosing to not let those memories control you. It’s a reminder that you have the strength to not let the past hold you back. 

  • Forgiveness is not the same as reconciling. Allowing a person forgiveness does not mean you have to maintain a relationship with that person. It just means that you are choosing to move forward instead of holding on to past hurts.

  • Forgiveness does not mean that the offense or action will not happen again. We can only be in control of our own actions, and some people may never change their ways. We need to change the way we respond to them and quit expecting others to be different.

  • Forgiveness is not easy. Forgiveness is a process and that process is going to look different depending on the situation. It may take time to work through emotional problems before we can truly forgive, and that’s okay. The length of time it takes to grant forgiveness doesn’t determine the value of forgiveness. 

The Value of Forgiveness

Forgiveness isn’t about maintaining relationships or making another person feel better; it’s about ensuring we feel good with ourselves. In fact, forgiveness can lead to: 

  • Healthier relationships

  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility

  • Fewer symptoms of depression

  • Lower blood pressure

  • A stronger immune system

  • Improved heart health

  • Improved self-esteem

How? Often, we let emotional experiences and issues consume us, which negatively impacts our minds, bodies, and spirits. And we let those issues roll over into other areas of our lives; other relationships, our work, our family. By practicing forgiveness you are releasing the control and power an offending person or situation has on your life.

Don’t Overlook Your Need for Forgiveness

We are all human, and we all deserve grace and forgiveness. As a result, it’s important to honestly assess and acknowledge the wrongs you may have done and how they have affected others. 

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.” - Luke 6:37

Avoid judging yourself too harshly, and remember that you can't force someone to forgive you - just like they can’t force you to forgive them. We all need to move to forgiveness in our own time. 

We’re Here for You

Forgiveness is a process. Whatever happens, commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect. 

At Pathfinders Pastoral Care Ministries, we specialize in reducing anxious feelings and their negative effectives. By exploring beliefs, feelings, and behaviors, we help you think more clearly, experience more positive emotions, and to re-engage in pleasurable activities while creating a closer relationship with God. Contact us today to learn more.

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