How do we forgive when we don’t want to?

Do you find it difficult to forgive? You are not alone, most of us do.

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It’s easy to forgive the person who steps on your toe in the elevator.  What about the person who shaped your life by their abuse when you were a child. What of the husband who cheated on you, thus ruining your dreams of a happy marriage?

One balmy summer evening recently hubby and I were walking in our neighborhood with the dogs. Rather the dogs were walking us, I caught the heady scent of pine from the huge trees down our street.

The fragrance released by the warm temperature hung thickly in the air. As we passed underneath the trees I breathed in deeply, my senses alive with enjoyment from this delightful aroma.

I thought of how the heat in our lives brings out the fragrance that is within. Is it a wonderful scent or the stench of years of bitterness resulting from unforgiveness?

The pleasant fragrance from our lives is that of good works, like forgiveness.

Forgiveness seems to be so hard for us, and yet it is the requirement for God forgiving us.

Forgiveness is a grace that sets us free.

 In a research survey, 80% of people interviewed said they had learned from their parents how and when it is appropriate to forgive. Natalie responded in one of these interviews that her mom never apologised or asked for forgiveness and she was the same way.

Muner, Maisy; My Research Paper- Forgiveness. (

 We are obligated to learn the grace of forgiveness for the sake of our children and grandchildren, as well as for our own salvation.

How Can we Forgive?

 C.S. Lewis said: “Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night ‘forgive our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.’ We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what He says.”

S. Lewis,The Weight of Glory(New York: Harper Collins, 2001; Originally published 1949), 181-183.

God wants to save us from ourselves, from the weight that unforgiveness adds to our souls.

Here are 8 signs that show we need to forgive:

  • When we can’t think about the person without strong negative emotion
  • When we lie awake at night thinking of revenge or self-defense
  • When we rehearse the incidents relating to this person over in our head
  • When we know the feelings are so deep down we stop ourselves from going there
  • When we treat others badly
  • When we won’t get close to anyone and we won’t let them close to us
  • When we have more negative emotions in a day than positive
  • When we are depressed about the past

The secret to freedom is to forgive.

It is the grace of God, working in our life that empowers us to truly forgive.

We may also need a friend, a counselor, or a pastor to help us see perspective and to pray with us as we let go.

How Do We Forgive?

  1. Recall the goodness of God and how He has forgiven us
  2. Pray a prayer: “Forgive me my trespasses as I forgive (and insert the person/s name here) ___________ who has trespassed against me (Matt 6:12).
  3. Write a letter to the person who has offended you pouring out all your emotions and keep writing till the emotion is spent. Then write across the letter, “DEBT PAID IN FULL”, and tear it up
  4. In your thoughts, refuse to dwell on the person’s deed towards you, and keep bringing your thoughts back to these 3 previous actions you have taken
  5. Finally, refuse to speak badly of the person, to gossip or to say caustic remarks about them.

All these points will aid in pressing the reset button in your heart towards God and towards your hurt.

You may have heard of the story of the little girl examining at her grandmother’s quilt she is stitching. She asks why the threads are all hanging loose, making the quilt look ugly and unfinished.

Granny turns the quilt over, to show her the finished side and tenderly replies that the little girl is looking at the quilt from the wrong side, as the other side is quite beautiful!

God is looking at the finished side of the quilt of our lives, already seeing the beauty of a life lived fully by the finished work of the cross applied to our lives as Christians, and forgiving others as we are forgiven is a massive part of that!

Question: What else has helped you to forgive?