Experts Weigh in With Practical Advice on Forgiveness
Forgiveness is one of those things we all struggle with at some point in our lives. No one is immune to being hurt so forgiveness becomes an important part of our human relationships.
To get a better understanding on this often very difficult subject, I asked some of my favourite fellow bloggers, writers, speakers and Christian influencers:
“What practical advice would you give to a women who’s really struggling with forgiveness?”
If you're in a place where you need to forgive someone I encourage you to take these answers to heart. I added links to all the best places to find these strong and empowered women of God, so please feel free to reach out!
Writer • Blogger • Social Entrepreneur
Forgiveness is a choice. An every day, every minute, every second kind of choice. Some days it'll feel like you fail and that's okay - give that failure to God by saying, "Today I'm failing at forgiving. I can't do it on my own, and I really need your help," and then let it go. Eventually, making the choice will feel easier.
Owner of ICDevos • Writer • Ministry Leader
I know MANY women, both online as well as in my real life discipleship experiences who struggle with issues of forgiveness. Forgiving is the door to freedom and yet, so many women, fear real, honest, authentic forgiveness. The fear is real, and when women come face to face with that fear, they can walk through a new door. My advice to both a believer and non believer would be the same and it would begin with a question; What scares you about forgiving? It’s when we get to the root of why it’s so hard to release and forgive, we can begin to shift perspective from the power that not forgiving has on us.
Ultimately, the Lord is trying to do a work in US and too often we forget that, and focus on the hurt and pain that the other person has caused in our lives, never moving into that place where hurt and grief can be properly acknowledged and processed, into freedom and forgiveness. There is ALWAYS something that the Lord is teaching us, and I believe an unforgiving heart leads to bitterness and ultimately anger, which completely hinder us from ever moving in what we were created to be. This is one of the reasons I’m passionate about authentic, missional discipleship where real, raw conversations take place…that can only be done in trusted relationship.
Author • Speaker
I struggled daily to forgive the one that I thought stood in the way of my daughter’s recovery. I hated him for the choices he made and the choices she made because of him. As I began to pray for him daily, much the same way I pray for my own children, it was my heart that began to change. It is difficult to hate someone you pray for daily. I found my way to a place of forgiveness with him because not doing so would have destroyed me. The forgiveness may never be returned or appreciated but doing so set me free.
Read Judy's book, "When the Light at the End of the Tunnel Is Another Train" (Kindle version available!) about the challenges she faced in her faith, health and spirit while her daughter battled a dangerous addiction. It's the story of one mother’s struggle to overcome that which she cannot control, “What I cannot control cannot control me!”.
Writer • Blogger • Creator
"I think for a lot of women struggling with forgiveness is the mindset they get caught in that forgiveness = reconciliation. Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. Some people sincerely but mistakenly assume that if they forgive an offender, they must re-establish the relationship. Unfortunately, this mistaken mind-set has kept countless victims from forgiving their victimizers. When God asks us to forgive, He does not mean there must be instant reconciliation. Forgiveness does not mean turning back the clock and starting over as if nothing happened - “let’s just bury the hatchet and go back to the way things were.”
Of course, forgiveness can lead to reconciliation, and quite often does. But sometimes reconciliation is not warranted or even possible, especially in cases involving abuse, sexual immorality, or if the offender refuses to change. Forgiveness is one-way, reconciliation is two-way. Reconciliation is a process that succeeds only when both parties are willing to work at it. Forgiveness, on the other hand, is a personal decision you make regardless of anyone else’s decisions. And when you make the decision to forgive, the weight that is lifted off your shoulders is beautiful.”
Author • Blogger
It is hard to forgive, especially those who we think don't deserve it. But when we come to that bridge of forgiveness and crossing it looks impossible, let us remember these three nuggets
1. If we don't forgive we imprison ourselves and remain in bitterness. That's not the kind of life we want to live!
2. We forgive because we too were once vilest offenders but Jesus paid the ultimate price to secure our salvation. He forgave us and requests that we forgive others too! (Matthew 6:15)
3. When the choice of forgiveness is hard, remember that we are going to a place where hurt, pain and disappointments don't exist, Amen. But for us to be prepared for our eternal place in heaven, we need to let go and choose forgiveness even if it is over and over.
Author • Speaker • Cheerleader of Faith
Forgiveness is our one chance to repair what is broken in us. It is our one chance to see that what we hold on to does not belong to us, but it actually belongs to Jesus and that when we hand it to him he will, in turn, hand us back peace.
Author • Speaker • Blogger
SEEK counsel, READ books on forgiveness, JOURNAL about the issue, SOAK in the Word and PRAY like stink! Do those in the reverse order and you will break free!
Understand that the old adage, “time heals all wounds” is not true. Forgiveness isn’t something that will ‘just happen’. Forgiveness is something you’ll have to work at. Seek, read, journal, pray…they’re all verbs. The deeper the wound, the longer the healing time…unless you let God in. Allowing the Holy Spirit to be your ultimate counselor will drastically cut down the amount of time it takes you to heal. Notice I didn’t say, praying will instantly take it all away. One trip to the altar doesn’t set you free if it’s been a deep wound. There are those breakthrough prayers, but usually they’re the result of accumulated prayers. Often forgiveness is a process. It’s a decision, followed by walking out that choice, sometimes on a daily basis, until your feelings catch up to your resolution. If you keep reaffirming the decision to forgive, your heart will heal. The pain brought on by the offense will dissipate like the lifting of a morning fog. And then you’ll be free…really FREE!
Writer • Blogger • Seeker of Depth
When I think of forgiveness, I like to use the analogy of making a big scrapbook. Just like it’s a choice to begin working on a scrapbook, forgiveness starts with a choice, but simply deciding to start a scrapbook does not result in a completed product. This is important because so often, we may choose to forgive someone, but when emotions of hurt, bitterness and anger rise up again, we think that we never forgave in the first place. That’s when we need to remind ourselves that forgiveness is a process.
Making a big scrapbook takes time, we may put it down for a bit and then choose to come back to it later. In the same way, we may choose to forgive, but then, grow resentful all over again, that’s is when we can choose to open up that scrapbook again and work on it. We may ride the wave of emotions that oscillate from freedom, peace and love to anger, hurt, bitterness and confusion. Those emotions will come and go as we work through the process of forgiveness, but as we choose to forgive over and over, even when we still feel hurt, we are picking up that scrapbook and adding more pictures and memorabilia. In time, the scrapbook looks more and more complete and the burst of negative emotions to the one that hurt us seem to come less and less often. By the end of this process, we will be able to flip through the pages of our scrapbooks and look at everything that’s happened: remembering the good, the bad and the ugly. The difference is that the ugly will no longer taint the beautiful memories anymore.
Author • Blogger
Forgiveness doesn't mean what the other person did was right or excuses them in any way, it means you choose to believe the same grace that was given to you by Jesus is offered to everyone. Forgiveness is keeping your power and not giving anything to the enemy to use against you to keep you in a "victim" status. It is freeing yourself from the trap of deception the enemy wants to use to "prey" on your mind. Don't let your present circumstances or your past define you because God created you for His plan and purpose. The enemy may have tried to take you out, but you are not down! You are a loved!
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
Writer • Blogger
My son was born a few months after I turned twenty. I wasn't married when it happened but I did have a special someone. I remember being scared to death and at the same time really excited. Part of me couldn't wait for my friends and family to find out and the other half of me was terrified that there response to me would be less than encouraging. And it was just that, less than encouraging.
I lost a lot of friends that day and I held onto that hurt for a long time. Years even. And sometimes that hurt tries to creep back in even now. There are some things that are easy to let go of and there are some pains that are more persistent.
If I've learned learned any thing from this about forgiveness, it would be that learning forgiveness is much more than just saying, "I forgive you". There's a follow through that has to happen. Truly forgiving means that every time that hurt starts to resurface and those thoughts start replaying, I am responsible for shutting them down and calling my thoughts back into alignment with my choice to forgive. When it comes to forgiveness you can't just say it and hope it sticks; it's not stagnant thing. Forgiveness is active. There is life and movement in it. It takes discipline and patience and in my case a whole lot of prayer. You have to be persistent with forgiveness. Let your actions cement the words.
Author • Speaker • Blogger
When we are struggling to forgive, we need to pray. Prayer doesn’t sound like a practical solution. We see the act of prayer as spiritual; not hands-on. However, we can underestimate the power of prayer.
Firstly, pray in a specific way—a practical way. No fluffy stuff. Be brutally honest with God. Tell him how you really feel about the person you are struggling to let off easy. You can be respectful to God in prayer, but you don’t need to look respectable. Our objective, however, is not just to rant. We need to give God permission to change our hearts.
So, secondly, we ask God to heal us and help us be able to extend mercy. Are you finding it hard to let it go because you are hurting—a lot? Ask Jesus to care for your wounds—the pain, anger and sorrow. Praying opens up our lives to change, and gives God the opportunity to step into the situation and bring the release we need.
Don’t give up. It may take time to feel no resentment towards the other person. Keep coming back to prayer.
Eventually, you will be able to forgive—I know from experience.
To boldly pray for peace to fill the difficult relationships you face, visit the "Tough Love Prayer Challenge" and register for Rachel's upcoming free ebook: http://rachelbritton.com/tough-love-challenge