Extending forgiveness sucks when someone hurts you. It’s hard, and in certain situations, feels impossible. I’m learning there is no clear cut path to forgiveness, but there are a few steps that we can begin to take.
This year I was deeply hurt by someone very close to me. To this day I can still hear his words echoing in my head. Words that ripped me apart and left my heart in pieces. And to think, this was coming from someone I loved, trusted, and respected.
To this day I have to wake up and remind myself who I really am. I can’t allow the venomous lies that were spoken to me take root in my thinking. This is very difficult to do. Which begs the question, how can I extend forgiveness through my pain?
What’s Your Story?
As I tell you my story maybe someone who has hurts you comes to mind. Someone you know you need to forgive but you don’t know where to begin. And, if you’re totally honest, you don’t really want to. It’s normal to feel that way. I do. But we can’t allow our inability to forgive leave us stuck and broken.
Others might try and help us by saying, “just forgive and forget”. We wish it was that easy do we? Although extending forgiveness might be a choice we can make, forgetting is a completely different story. Their words and actions play on repeat and we wish we could just snap our fingers and get on with life.
How Do We Move On?
This week as I have been processing what it looks like to forgive. I wish I could say that I have it all figured out and could give you a step by step journey to take, but I can’t. What I can offer you a few small ideas that I’m trying to do in order to be able to extend forgiveness and find healing.
Maybe you will join me?
Here are four steps I am trying to take to extend forgiveness.
- Refuse to minimize or rationalize the pain. When someone hurts you it can be easy to tell yourself to not let it bother you. We push it down and don’t allow ourselves to feel the pain. In order to be able to extend forgiveness, we have to feel the full force of the hurt they have caused us. It’s only from there that we can begin to extend forgiveness.
- Strategically look for the good through the pain. It’s said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This is true, and often someone we forget in the midst of picking up the shattered pieces of our hearts. But this is a huge step in the healing and forgiveness process. Once we feel the weight of it, it’s now time to begin to see the good that has (and will) come from it.
- Daily turn my pain over to God. Every morning when your hurt, pain, and unforgiveness fills every ounce of your thoughts, it’s vital that you take the time to give them over to God. This is the only way that your inability to forgive can turn into the ability to forgive. Simply say God, I can’t do this and let him do the work in you.
- Remember my inability to forgive only hurts me in the long run. When we can’t find it in ourselves to forgive it only hurts us. Lewis B. Smedes is quoted as saying “to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that prisoner was you.” When we can’t forgive it locks us up and keeps us down. Freedom is found in forgiveness so let’s begin to take the steps needed to find our freedom.
It’s really difficult to forgive those who have deeply wounded us, especially when they are close friends or family. Like I said above, this isn’t a path to be able to extend forgiveness, but a few steps I am trying to take so that I can one day say, “I forgive you”. I’m in this with you as we both try to find freedom in forgiveness.
Questions: Have you ever been stuck and unable to forgive someone who has hurt you? How were you able to eventually extend forgiveness?