To Forgive or Not to Forgive…

That is the question? We’ve all heard that forgiveness is something we do for ourselves. We hear it and it resonates with us mentally, but the message for some reason cannot make the six inch journey from our head to our heart. Every time we try, the mind seems to take over adding even more vivid details to the original offense. The offender eventually becomes an evil monster or an everlasting enemy. In our head, the decision not to forgive is justified and on some level we convince ourselves that this particular offense goes beyond what God requires us to forgive. The pain can become so deep that we become the offender’s judge and jury. We sometimes render a life sentence of “not to forgive” the offender and they not even know about it. Sadly, their offense continues to take up space in our heads and our hearts. We become bitter and allow the weeds of bitterness to stunt our growth spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally; therefore, I ask again…to forgive or not to forgive?

Oh, but wait, what about when we’ve made a mistake and we are the one seeking forgiveness? Where does the story we tell ourselves about our mistake come from, our head or our heart? More than likely this story comes from the heart because we understand why we made the mistake. We can also provide all of the extenuating circumstances that led to our offending someone and the reason why we should be forgiven, but for some reason, we struggle do this for others? Often because we stay in a place of anger and we feed it. This emotion makes us feel strong and powerful, it’s a more comfortable place to dwell. Unfortunately, we do not allow the natural healing process to take place. I often liken it to a literal cut on my finger. We are so wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14) that in 7-10 days that cut will automatically heal on its own. However, if I after a few days, notice it starts to heal and produce a scab and I pick at it every day until it is infected, I do not allow the natural healing process to take place. The same can be said for hurt feelings or the pain of a broken heart caused by an offender. In time we can heal if we allow the natural process of emotional healing to occur. This involves visiting a range of emotions along the way to forgiveness and emotional well-being. However, if we pick the scab, or continue to relive the story in our mind and tell the story over and over again to get supporters and other condemning jurors, we do not allow the natural emotional healing to take place. We again, are hurting ourselves. Should we at this point choose, “to forgive or not to forgive?”

I can remember being deeply hurt by a friend. I chose for a long time, “not to forgive.” I can’t tell you how much time, space and negative energy this offense and this person took up in my head and in my life. Forgiveness did not come until I could begin to engage my broken heart in the matter. I moved from a place of anger to a place of admitting that I was hurt. Once I was able to admit that my heart was broken, my spirit changed and I was ready to learn the lesson from this trial. I allowed my Heavenly Father to mold me. (Ephesians 4:32) I was finally able to make the six inch journey from my head to my heart. I began to look at the person’s background, culture, birth order and every extenuating circumstance I could think of to understand why they offended me. Instead of making this person out to be a monster, I found that she too was broken hearted and wounded from our disagreement. From this place, we both were able to seek forgiveness. I am pleased to say that we can stand in each other’s presence and be at peace. This is the gift we give ourselves when we choose to forgive.

Our relationship is not the same, I’m not sure it will ever be and I think we are both okay with that. Sometimes we just outgrow relationships and we have both comfortably come to this conclusion. However, I can say that allowing myself to truly forgive has brought about internal peace, spiritual growth, clarity and most important God’s blessing of a clear conscience when I offer the prayer, “forgive me for my debts as I have forgiven my debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)
Okay ladies…To forgive or not to forgive…that is the question. What’s stewing in your filter?

26 thoughts on “To Forgive or Not to Forgive…”

  1. Always forgive! Why do I say that? The simplest reason: Jehovah tells us to. You may rationalize: What he/she has done to me hurts too deep. Atrocities to individuals happen everyday. So how do you deal with the way you feel-NOW! What do you do: Take revenge, Let your deepest darkest hurt take you over, and you become DARK, or forgive &forget.
    Hate in your heart will consume you to.

    forgive & forget. Again I say forgive & forget.

    1. Well said Barb! A heart full of bitterness and long standing resentment becomes hardened and is difficult to mold. When our heart is consumed with negativity, we can’t see all of the blessings around us. Yes, our Creator knows whats best for us, and yes He says forgive and sets the perfect example for us. Can’t wait to see you face to face my friend;-)

  2. Excellent topic Cathy!– because somebody is going to hurt us and we are going to hurt someone we care about!— Growing up as a child I was a VICTIM because of lack of forgiveness! – THE TRUTH: I didn’t get to know my Dad side of the family until I was an adult and living on my own! – My relatives on my dad side miss my graduations and everything a child deserves and craves from family!- GRUDGES are not cool! – It hurts EVERYONE involved so much energy and time is wasted! Sometimes its so sad that the person upset doesn’t even remember what was said or done to them yet their still holding on to pain and anger.—
    Kathy, I am so glad you are talking about forgiveness but I have an additional point I am dying to add …. How about apologizing when we KNOW we hurt or disappointed someone!!!— In my observation I have notice that a lot of time the *MAIN* reason people have a hard time forgiving or letting go is because so many people are HAUGHTY and have so much PRIDE to put themselves in the other person place and SEE or try to just understand ( not necessarily agree) – why a person feels the way they do.- It takes HUMILITY to forgive BUT it takes HUMILITY to SINCERELY see what you did wrong and go to the person and say… ” I was wrong, I am so sorry, if I could take it back I would, PLEASE forgive me, if not today maybe soon or one day.— If more people did this one thing, a lot of people who tend to hold grudges more would be able to forgive more!
    Yes, forgiveness is EXTREMELY important, especially as Christians! – But apologizing when you see someone in pain and you KNOW good in well that what you did you ought NOT to have done is just as important if not more so as forgiveness!!!
    About 2 yrs ago I hurt someone, (not trying too) that I care about, I SINCERELY Apologize and she forgave me and we still have a good relationship! – But what if I NEVER looked at myself and was to prideful to say sorry. We would most likely not be close to this day! When I hurt her, I went to buy her a card because I felt bad. Do you know I literally went to EIGHT stories, even a few hallmarks and I couldn’t find one apology card! – I had the sales people looking and they couldn’t find any. I thought this was so DEEP and SAD– All of us are so imperfect and have different weakness so we are going to hurt somebody at sometime and they don’t even have a section at the store for apology cards???- EVERY THING else but ABSOLUTELY no Apology card!!!- At this point I started thinking hard.. Are we that haughty that its always the other person and we haven’t done absolutely nothing wrong???- Is my pride more important than the person I care about ??? Is this really worth losing a relationship with this person I TRULY care about???
    Are we that arrogant or prideful …that we are so BLIND to OPEN our EYES and see how just * SINCERELY saying.. * I am Sorry, PLEASE forgive me*– These simple words are so POWERFUL! Because they are VERY HEALING to the soul ! Many times you well be so surprise how many people can forgive and makeup relationships because one of them or both of them were SINCERELY sorry and took the time to show and demonstrate how TRULY sorry they were!–
    Yet, in reality, there are some relationships that can’t be mend do to the crime or sin that was committed, but when a person * STILL* goes out of the way and apologize it shows not only humility but lack of SELFISHNESS because they are NOT thinking of themselves but the other person, in other words their VALADIATNG the person who is suffering!— I just LOVE that so DEEPLY, because focusing on the other person makes it easier to forgive eventually even if its not at that moment!–
    I will hurt people I care about sometimes I NEED to SINCERELY repent and tell them and SHOW them I am sorry. And yet I have to forgive others who offend me. Forgiveness does not mean I have to hang around a person who is jealous or be around a person who is a jerk of a character, I just have to at some point move on and let go of the pain, rather they apologize or not!– Which is NOT always easy but doing so please our creator but it protects me emotionally and spiritually!- Yes my thoughts are we are constantly taught to FORGIVE which is very GREAT and NEEDED to survive in all types of relationships we have with others.. The saying goes* A good marriage or relationship takes TWO good forgivers because they both * WILL* make mistakes! – Even though I totally agree, with the quote- I just would like to go a little deeper– ALL relationships require two GOOD Forgivers and two GOOD apologizers!

    1. Well said Lisa. I’ve never thought about there not being a greeting card at Hallmark to say I’m sorry. I guess that says a lot about the world we live in. I took a survey once that asked the question, “what do you think the world needs to hear more of, I’m sorry or thank you?” Most people choose thank you. Food for thought indeed! Thanks for sharing your heart and soul Lisa.

      1. Cathy, I just wanted to add because as you can see I am very passionate about this topic! The survey that you took where most people choose thank you, perhaps they weren’t thinking hard enough!- Because if an person forgets to say their thank you for something that they ought to have said, If they are HUMBLE then when they recognize their error, they will sincerely apologize so then the other person will get their feelings validated and at the same time get the appreciation for what ever it was that they deserved!– I could be DEAD WRONG…. But I HONESTLY feel more people NEED an sincere apology from the person who wronged them in some way rather it was deliberate or NOT. Saying thank you is EXTREMELY important, EVERY one NEEDS to feel APPRECIATED! -But Apologizing is so HEALING! The pain that a person is experiencing can either be erased or just help a person to move on because there pain was” ACKNOWLEDGED or VALIDATED”… Like I said I could be wrong but just in listening over the years to so MANY people stories and the pain they experience, they just NEEDED validation! – Because we already know due to imperfection we will get on each other last nerves and may say or do something without really thinking first!—Usually, just saying – I am sorry, while being sincere is what is so needed. When someone is telling me a sad story or experience they went through , when they are finished with the story, I always ask them ” did the person who hurt/ harm them apologize and the answer that really hurts me and disappoints me is – NO, they never received an apology! —— That terrible pride is ruining our relationships with others and does contribute GREATLY to why a person may have a hard time forgiving!- Apologizing and Forgiving goes hand and hand in my world, BOTH is EQUALLY IMPORTANT!!!—- Cathy, I have a bad habit of repeating myself sometimes when I talk – lol – But right now I am DELIBERATELY repeating myself- ” Love ALL your topics, the realness, the vulnerability and the openness to speak the TRUTH, I LOVE and RESPECT and ADMIRE- ALL of it!!!!

  3. The topic of forgiveness is fresh on my mind because recently I heard a Bible discourse that was quite thought-provoking. The speaker gave a most poignant illustration about two sisters that held a grudge over a petty disagreement and how one of them uttered the words, “If I never see her again it will be too soon.” Well, unfortunately she never saw her sister again alive because she died… No doubt the surviving sister was devastated!
    We all say and do things, at some time or another, that we wish we had not and we want to be forgiven. Likewise, we should not hold a grudge against someone who has offended us. (Matthew 6:14, 15) I am sure that you have heard the saying that harboring resentment or holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die… Yeah, they are gone on with their life while you are making yourself miserable. God’s Word admonishes us at Ephesians 4:32 to “be humble and kind to one another, tenderly compassionate and freely forgiving as God by Christ forgave you.”
    This topic was quite timely for me because it made me really think about how often times we are quick to say that we forgive someone when our behavior does not truly coincide. It has helped me to see how I am handling a certain situation and has shown me that I definitely need to check myself in this regard and adjust my attitude because of the simple fact that even though I have said that I have forgiven someone who has stepped on my toes, figuratively speaking, I am still displaying a salty temperament towards them. Yes, we may verbalize to someone that we have forgiven them, but in all actuality, forgiveness is more than just mere lip service, it has more to do with our actions and the disposition of our hearts. (Isaiah 55:7)
    The lesson that I have learned is that we should be quick to forgive for it is a true test of genuine love. (Proverbs 17:9) And when you forgive, you heal your own anger and hurt and you are able to let love lead again. It is like spring cleaning your heart. So let trivial matters flow off our backs like water on a duck… Forgive and let it go…

    1. Beautifully said Deb. The only two who really know when forgiveness has taken place is yourself and the “reader of hearts.” I love being in a place of peace, contentment, joy, love, gratitude and thanks giving…just to name a few. When peace is disrupted these wonderful God-given qualities cannot flow as freely as they should. Forgiveness is the gift that keeps on giving and the gift we can always give to ourselves.
      P.S. I love your writing style…it touches my heart;-)

  4. It’s very true that forgiveness doesn’t come easily, but we need to remember that forgiveness can heal spiritual wounds and bring the peace and love that only Jehovah God can give. I was moved by every statement made by you! Thanks for inspiring us!

    1. My pleasure Kemi…thank you for your love and support. I know the pain of moving to forgiveness. It is not an easy transition. The heart is so treacherous (Jeremiah 17:9) It can work against what we know to be right. Prayer is so important, but the reward for letting go of pain and resentment is “the peace of God that excels all thought will guard our hearts and mental powers.” Philippians 4:6,7

  5. Wow’ Cathy you nailed this one. Although, forgiveness is truly hard to do when you have been deeply hurt by someone very closed to you, however, it can be done and like you said in your blog, once you forgive you can move on and make progress in your life. So I say forgive, for it pleases our heavenly father.
    Thank you Cathy.

    1. Indeed it does please Him. It is an internal process that can be painful but it is better than holding onto hurt for years. Process, endure, release and let go. It’s something we do for ourselves.

  6. RIght now I am stuck at not forgiving. Someone said something to me that hurt my feelings and I do not want to address it. I kind of feel like they don’t care enough to consider my feelings and I go out of my way to try to talk to them or engage them and I get nothing in RETURN. The only problem is this is a family member, it’s my sister. I go to Louisiana to visit her every year. I spend time with her and the kids. I try to make the best of my time down there with them. I call when I get back to Michigan to see how they are doing. I make phone calls regularly but I did not even receive a text message or phone call to inquire about how I am doing. She has missed surgeries illnesses, bad days, success, emotional periods in my life. I don’t know if I even want to forgive her for the things that she has said or even want to be bothered because her actions show me otherwise. Am I wrong?I am bitter too.

    1. You are such a loving and caring person and I hate to see others not reciprocate your love in return. My first thought after reading your response is to forgive yourself for investing so much into a one-sided relationship. Healthy relationships provide an interchange of love and encouragement. Recognize this relationship for what it is and seek to change or set healthy boundaries that will balance out the relationship. I think it’s time for a crucial conversation with your sister so you can work towards to type of relationship you would like to have with her. Pray about the situation first and move towards forgiveness. It’s not easy, its a process, a painful one at that, but the end result is so much better that the end result of bitterness and resentment. We will open this further for discussion June 13th at our next CWC…Healthy Relationships. See you soon my friend;-)

  7. Hi Cathy! Great subject! There’s a couple situations in my life where I’ve been hurt and I feel like I’ve forgiven the person who hurt me but after I forgave them they hurt me again and again and it reopens the old wounds. I feel alot of resentment toward her for her continued offenses. I can’t stay away from her because I love her and she’s family. How do I forgive and not allow those past hurts to pile on top of each other after every offense?

    1. It sounds like it’s time to set healthy boundaries in your relationship. I go back to the analogy of the cut on my finger that heals automatically within 7-10 days. If once the healing process starts and the scab begins to form moving towards healing and I allow someone else to pick the scab until it is infected, will my wound ever heal? At some point I have to protect myself from never being able to heal. If I, “love my neighbor as I love myself,” I will not continuously allow someone to hurt me. I can forgive and set healthy boundaries and not allow that person to pick the scab off my cut. Pray for wisdom, discernment and courage to have the conversation to start the healing process and set boundaries. Proverbs 2:1-5 & James 1:5 We will continue our discussion June 13th at our next CWC…our topic is Healthy Relationships…see you soon my friend.

  8. Wow !!!! What can one say? Is there anything to say or to reflect and find the people in our hearts that we need to forgive so that we do ourselves a favor ? We do outgrow people and sometimes do not even see it coming.

    1. There are a few scriptures that I reflect on that will eventually move my heart to a place of empathy. Romans 3:23 and Romans 5:8. I also make sure that I give myself permission to feel the pain of the offense, process it, pray about it and then move forward. Moving forward may include having a conversation that will bring about closure and peace. The interesting thing about growth is, we don’t always recognize it until it’s a growth spurt. Sometimes that growth spurt can be uncomfortable for those who want things to stay the same. Then the relationship can become like a pair of shoes you’ve outgrown…Painful indeed;-)

  9. Cathy to forgive others is a challenge. But if we want to be forgiven by our father in heaven then, we must be sincere in letting it go from the heart. This can be exhausting in long term relationships. Over the years we change due to aging and trials. Our tolerance also declines. Our expectations of others are lower too! We learn that to have inner peace we need to cultivate a since of humor and then we won’t make Mountains out Mole Hills. We have to learn to laugh at ourselves and others. Maybe then we wouldn’t have lost all that sleep!!!

    1. So true Berni…they say, “with age come wisdom!” I’ve built some mountains in my youth, spending time and energy on little things that when I look back were not as big as I made them. I want this blog to be a place where women of all ages can learn from one another. You response is the perfect example of sharing words of wisdom to all generations. Thank you Berni well said.

  10. Forgiveness all the way. I have come to learn when people you love betray you, you have to throw it behind you and let it go. This is the only way you can move on with your life. You have to act as if the situation never happened. Jehovah forgives us freely, so we need to do the same.

    1. Indeed we do and it’s important to note that we are allowed to have our hurt feelings. Our Heavenly Father openly talked about his hurt caused by the nation of Israel (Psalms 78:41) but He did not hold on to those hurt feelings. I love how He set the example in giving us permission to say we are hurt and validating our feelings as well. Once we move through the process of emotional healing the forgiveness can take place. Great job Yana!

  11. So very true. Extending forgiveness is a necessary action in order to be shown mercy by God. I’m glad that you stated that the relationship may never be the same, though. That’s a reality. But, pursuing Peace and being at peace with one another is key. Great job.

    1. Thank you Quita and welcome to our discussion. There are some relationships that can stand the test and trial of hurt feelings, disagreements and even disappointments. I have true friendships since childhood where we’ve experienced it all and it has brought us closer together, but then there are those relationships that are not healthy and jealousy rears it’s ugly head and one of both of you have outgrown the relationship. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to have to conversation and know that to be at peace is good enough. Ahhhh…growth and maturity is a beautiful thing;-)

  12. When I reflected on your blog today and past friendships, I can definitely see that growth within the friendship is a key component to a healthy successful and lasting friendship. Reflection helps us see things differently and growth helps us to apply the change in our thinking. Great blog.

    1. Forgiveness can bring about tremendous growth in friendships, especially if you can work through disagreements. It’s easy being in a relationship when two people are in agreement, but when disagreements arise you see who the person is under stress, how they respond and whether they are concerned about your feelings. If peace is able to be restored and both are committed to the growth process the relationship becomes stronger.

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