Do you often hear about the importance of forgiveness but you are not quite sure how to forgive someone or a situation? Do you struggle to forgive? If you would like some practical tips to help you forgive, you’re in the right place.
Some offenses are lighter and can be easy to let go. Other offenses are more serious and take some time. In those cases, forgiveness can be a process and is done in stages. Here are 7 tips to support you as you learn how to forgive.
7 Tips on How to Forgive
1. Acknowledge what happened and what you lost. That person or situation owed you something. You have to know what you lost before you can let it go.
2. Own your power. Acknowledge your anger, your hurt, your frustration. You can’t let go of something you don’t own. Even if you think you’re wrong to feel the way you do, be honest about your feelings. Ignoring them or burying them will not make them go away.
3. Grieve your loss. Anger and sadness is a normal when you’ve been hurt. Let yourself feel the pain, the hurt, the confusion. Don’t minimize what happened especially when it’s a serious offense. Vent. Write about it or talk to trusted friends. If you are having trouble letting go, ask God to help you and to give you what you need to let go. Seek wise counsel, a wise friend, your church or professional counseling.
4. Know the truth about revenge or vengeance. Revenge or vengeance hurts you because it keeps you trapped in a vicious cycle and keeps you focused on the offense. There is a God of justice who at some point, will right every wrong. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Your feelings of revenge are normal and you can vent them in writing or with a safe person but avoid acting on them. This is not easy and it helps if you try to understand yourself and the other person as I explain in the next point.
5. Seek to understand. Don’t excuse the person and at the same time do seek to understand the reasons they did what they did or the reasons the situation happened to you. Sometimes what they did to you was not about you but about their own hurt or pain. The focus on their needs can blind them to your needs. Ask God to help you understand yourself and the other person.
6. Be open to looking at your own wrong choices or wrong responses to what happened. Pray for wisdom to see what part of the situation is your responsibility and what is not. Even if the other person is wrong, pray and ask God how He wants you to learn and grow from the situation.
In some cases such as abuse, don’t turn the anger on yourself and decide there is something wrong with you. Ask God to give you wisdom and to comfort you.
7. Get perspective. Forgiveness is for you. It doesn’t mean the other person is right. If they were, you wouldn’t need to forgive them. The fact that you have to forgive them is proof they are wrong. They don’t have to admit their wrong for you to forgive and depending on the situation, you don’t necessarily have to have the relationship restored.
If it’s a situation where you can talk it through, then the relationship can be restored. Follow healthy guidelines on how to talk and listen. Look for the good that can come out of it. God is good and He knows how to redeem situations. When you partner with God, you can bring good out of any situation.
These tips are by no means comprehensive but they will give you some guidance as you seek to forgive. Read some of the other blog posts under the categories of anger and offense which will offer additional help and insight.
Forgiveness, especially of serious offenses, is not easy, and at the same time, it is worth it. You trade anguished feelings for peace of mind and heart. When you forgive, you give yourself a gift because you set yourself free.
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 (NIV 1984)
What about you? What helps you forgive? Share with us in the comments below. Let me know how I can support you.