5 reasons to forgive when you can't forget (2023)

  • Michelle S. Lazurek Author
  • 2023 27. Jan
5 reasons to forgive when you can't forget (1)

As Christians, we know that the measure of our faith is the ability to forgive others when they have wronged us. But that is easier said than done. Because of the nature of the offense, it can take months or even years to forgive someone. Forgiveness is a process. However, it is necessary that we go through the process of forgiveness even when we cannot forget what someone has done to us or are not sorry. Why should we forgive someone if we're afraid they might do it again?

Here are five reasons to forgive when you can't forget:

1. God calls us to forgive

Throughout Scripture, God calls us to forgive others.We are called to forgive someone repeatedly, even if they commit the same offense.Matthew 6:14-15says, “For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don't forgive others their sins, your father won't forgive your sins. God will not forgive us if we do not forgive others. This is one of the few orders that comes with that promise."

God chooses to forgive us no matter how serious our offense and chooses not to remember it. He gives us the chance to come unto Him and experience the freedom that Christ's death on the cross has given us. Because we have been forgiven, it is our duty to forgive others, even if our offense is not as serious as someone else's. Going through the process of forgiveness means that we believe in God. When we forgive others, we are fulfilling God's calling to forgive others.

2. It sets us free

People often believe that forgiveness is about the other person. They believe that if we forgive them, we will release them from their wrongdoing. On the contrary, forgiveness affects us more than the other. Forgiving others frees us from the emotional attachment that unforgiveness holds in our heart. When we forgive, we feel lighter and freer. We are better able to show love to others when we have forgiven them.

If you're having trouble forgiving someone, start with themprayer. Explain to God that you have made a decision to forgive a person and be specific about the offense. Tell God you choose to forgive even when you don't feel like it. God knows our hearts. He knows when we did something on purpose and when we did it simply out of vocation. But God honors us when we choose to forgive, even if it is just God's call to forgive. Forgiveness puts us on the path to healthy relationships. When the relationship is strained due to unforgiveness, our ability to forgive can aid in the process of reconciliation. While the relationship may never be the same again, we can do our part to live at peace with everyone. Mental problems are increasing. This is partly because of the unforgiveness we carry in our hearts for not confessing the sin that weighs on us. By making ourselves clean before God and then choosing to make others clean before Him, we experience emotional freedom like never before.

3. It shows God's love

Johannes 15:13says, "Love has no greater love than this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Christ, who had no sin, chose to take upon himself the sins of the world so that we might all experience freedom . Not forgiving others is like saying that Christ's death was in vain and that there are some transgressions that are not worth forgiving. When we imply this, we imply that Christ's death was meaningless and that Christ did not know what he was doing when he died on the cross. While forgiving someone can bring up past pain, it's best to deal with it effectively. It's not good to suppress our feelings or deny that the problem exists. Rather, we show God's unconditional love to others when we forgive the people in our lives. When we do this, we show that God loves us too, and we believe in Him and in the power of Christ's sacrifice.

4. We demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22gives us an understanding of what the fruits of the Spirit are: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Forgiveness helps us to recognize that the Holy Spirit is within us lives. When we forgive, we cultivate those fruits in our lives. Forgiveness demonstrates these fruits because we demonstrate love, peace, gentleness, and kindness in a way that unforgiveness cannot. When we forgive, we pave the way for the Holy Spirit to work more effectively in our lives. If unforgiveness is not controlled, it can impede our relationship with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will not work in a hardened heart. Forgiveness softens the heart and allows the Holy Spirit to move freely in our lives.

5. It becomes a natural practice

Once we have accomplished the difficult task of forgiving, it is easier to forgive more than once. Even if the offense is serious, we will have the tools and spiritual skills necessary to go through the process of true forgiveness. Forgiveness can be hard to recognize when we've truly forgiven someone because we often still feel anger, pain, or other emotions associated with the offense. If I repeat the insult, continue to vent to friends, or erupt in anger or resentment every time I see that person, I probably haven't forgiven them. Every time you feel this emotion, get a journal and write down your feelings. Deal with the pain hidden deep within you. An injury that isn't managed effectively can lead to a host of other physical, emotional, and mental problems.

Take a blank piece of paper and ask the Lord to reveal all the people you still have an offense with. Write down their name and the nature of the crime. In your quiet time, say their names and explain that you are choosing to forgive them the offense today. Ask God to help you forget it or bring it up so you can practice the peace and freedom of forgiveness. Explain that Satan has no footing in your life and you will not allow unforgiveness to interfere with your relationship with God. When you're done, you may find that you've delved deeper into your intimacy with God.

Forgiveness can be one of the hardest things to live as a Christian. But when we do that, we show an unbelieving world who God is and His presence in our lives. God chose to use his Son to bear the burden of all the sins of the world. God chose to show us great love when he forgave us, and he calls us to do the same. There's nothing we can do to negate thatsalvationThe death of Christ permits us. We show this best when we forgive others. Forgiveness not only frees the other person, but also frees us from physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental anguish that prevents us from living a meaningful relationship with the Lord.

Credit: ©GettyImages/PeopleImages

5 reasons to forgive when you can't forget (2)Michelle S. Lazurekis a multi-award-winning author, public speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Your new children's bookWho God wants me to beencourages girls to discover God's plan for their careers. When she's not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting '80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and crazy dog. For more information please visit their websitewww.michelelazurek.com.


Why you should forgive but not forget? ›

Forgiveness is essential for one's emotional well-being

Holding onto these negative emotions can have dire consequences like irritability, physical illnesses, poor mental health, etc. When you forgive but don't forget, your emotional well-being is impacted positively since you move past those negative feelings.

How do you forgive when it's hard to forget? ›

Once you feel ready to forgive, you can take a few additional steps to make sure you're really ready.
  1. Talk through your feelings. Before you can forgive someone, you'll want to make sure you can put your feelings about what happened into words. ...
  2. Find the bright side. ...
  3. Forgive smaller things first. ...
  4. Forgive yourself.
Apr 27, 2020

Do you truly forgive if you dont forget? ›

Forgiving is Not Forgetting

What a relief! You can forgive someone for their offenses against you even if you can't forget. It seems flippant to tell someone to just forgive and let it go when emotional and/or physical trauma has been experienced by the hand of another person.

What are the 3 importance of forgiveness? ›

Forgiving helps you move forward on your spiritual path.

Forgiveness encourages compassion. You are able to relate to others as part of the human experience. You feel for others as you do for yourself. Emotionally and psychologically unencumbered, you can begin to put the past behind you.

What are the two reasons why we must forgive? ›

Forgiveness can lead to: Healthier relationships. Improved mental health. Less anxiety, stress and hostility.

What does the Bible say about forgiving but not forgetting? ›

Second, God did not design us to forgive and forget, for then we hope in vain the pain will go away, and it doesn't. At best, we learn to live with the pain. He designed us to forgive, and then let Christ come into our lives, and heal us of the pain and wounds we experienced.

What are the 3 types of forgiveness? ›

The three types of forgiveness are: exoneration, forbearance and release. Let's take each in turn. Exoneration is the closest to what we usually think of when we say “forgiveness”.

How do I forgive myself for past thoughts? ›

How to Forgive Yourself
  1. Recognize the cost of unforgiveness. ...
  2. List your hurts. ...
  3. Decide to forgive yourself. ...
  4. Own and grieve the consequences. ...
  5. Make peace with others. ...
  6. Treat yourself like someone you love. ...
  7. Learn from your mistakes. ...
  8. Make a deliberate choice to not dwell on your past mistakes.
Dec 30, 2022

How do you let go of the past and forgive yourself? ›

How to Forgive Yourself and Let go of Regrets
  1. Acceptance. Acknowledge that you are a human, and know that every human makes mistakes. ...
  2. Learn from mistakes. Try to learn from your mistakes. ...
  3. Take risks. Be willing to take risks. ...
  4. Visualize the future. Picture yourself free from guilt, regret, and self-condemnation.

What does the Bible say about not forgetting? ›

DEU 9:7 Remember, do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness; from the day that you left the land of Egypt until you arrived at this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord.

What does the Bible say about forgiveness and letting go? ›

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.”

What does forgiving but not forgetting mean? ›

Forgiveness without forgetting means you let go of your emotions of anger and bitterness, yet you remember that your friend was untrustworthy. You may or may not decide to reconcile with that person. You may also be cautious when letting new friends into your life to prevent the same thing from happening again.

What are 4 things that forgiveness is not? ›

What's inside this article
  • Forgiveness is not a feeling.
  • Forgiveness is not pretending you were not hurt.
  • Forgiveness is not condoning what the person did to you.
  • Forgiveness is not trusting the offender.
  • Forgiveness is not relieving the person of responsibility.

What are the 5 steps of forgiveness? ›

Worthington has distilled the REACH plan: Recall the hurt; Empathize with the one who hurt you; Altruistically decide to forgive; Commit publicly to forgiveness; and Hold on to that forgiveness.

What are the 7 Steps to forgiveness? ›

7 Steps to True Forgiveness
  • Step 1: Acknowledge. Acknowledge the hurt. ...
  • Step 2: Consider. Consider how the hurt and pain has affected you. ...
  • Step 3: Accept. Accept that you cannot change the past. ...
  • Step 4: Determine. Determine whether or not you will forgive. ...
  • Step 5: Repair. ...
  • Step 6: Learn. ...
  • Step 7: Forgive.
Dec 10, 2013

What is the most important reason to forgive? ›

Why should we forgive? The Stanford Forgiveness Project has shown that learning to forgive lessens the amount of hurt, anger, stress and depression that people experience. People who forgive also become more hopeful, optimistic and compassionate and have enhanced conflict resolution skills.

Why do God wants us to forgive people? ›

The #1 reason why we should forgive others is simply because God forgave us. He is so full of love and ready to forgive when we sincerely ask, so we should too. I know most of the time it's far from easy, but the more we condition ourselves spiritually and become closer to the Lord, the easier it becomes.

Why does God teach us to forgive? ›

In fact, because God loves us so much, He sent His one and only Son to die for our sins so that we can have eternal life with Him. It is important to understand that if God had not forgiven us, we could never be saved. Therefore, we ought to forgive others.

What happens when forgiveness does not happen? ›

The negative consequences of not forgiving has been documented in studies that show that it can lead to emotional pain of anger, hate, hurt, resentment, bitterness and so on and as a consequence can create health issues, affect relationships and stop us from experiencing the freedom that forgiveness enables.

Does God command us to forgive? ›

The Lord Jesus explicitly commands us in Scripture that we are to forgive those who have committed offences against us. And he makes no exception even when those offences may be egregious.

How many times should we forgive? ›

That's how many times the Bible tells us we should forgive someone. Matthew 18: 21-22 21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

What are the 4 R's of forgiveness? ›

Responsibility: Accept what has happened and show yourself compassion. Remorse: Use guilt and remorse as a gateway to positive behaviour change. Restoration: Make amends with whomever you're forgiving, even if it's yourself. Renewal: Learn from the experience and grow as a person.

What are signs of true forgiveness? ›

Four Signs that you have Truly Forgiven and You're not Stuffing it Down
  • Forgiveness Takes Time. Forgiveness is a process. ...
  • Forgiveness Involves Sadness. If you have moved straight from anger to “forgiveness,” then you have probably not actually forgiven and let go. ...
  • Forgiveness Reflects Learning. ...
  • Forgiveness Comes From God.

What are the 4 levels of forgiveness? ›

The four types of forgiveness are Cheap Forgiveness, Refusing to Forgive, Acceptance, and genuine Forgiveness.

How do I let go of my mistakes? ›

How To Let Go Of Past Mistakes In 15 Steps [Update 2022]
  1. Allow Yourself To Feel Without Judgment Or Reservation. ...
  2. Recognize Your Feelings. ...
  3. Recognize That Your Feelings Are Not Part Of You. ...
  4. Do Not Cling To Your Feelings. ...
  5. Recognize When You Are Being Too Hard On Yourself. ...
  6. Identify Where You Are Being Unrealistic.
Mar 2, 2022

How do I let go of guilt and shame? ›

Steps to Letting Go of Guilt and Shame
  1. Take ownership of your part in the situation. ...
  2. Manage your expectations of yourself. ...
  3. Are you taking responsibility for others' feelings? ...
  4. Make amends. ...
  5. Forgive yourself. ...
  6. Identify the way in which you have INTERPRETED the situation.
May 25, 2016

How do you stop dwelling on past mistakes? ›

The good news is that there are effective solutions for breaking yourself out of this rut, and they're simpler than you might think.
  1. Identify your most common triggers. ...
  2. Get psychological distance. ...
  3. Distinguish between ruminating and problem solving. ...
  4. Train your brain to become non-stick. ...
  5. Check your thinking for errors.
Feb 25, 2019

How do I make peace with my past mistakes? ›

How to Forgive Yourself
  1. Focus on your emotions. ...
  2. Acknowledge the mistake out loud. ...
  3. Think of each mistake as a learning experience. ...
  4. Give yourself permission to put this process on hold. ...
  5. Have a conversation with your inner critic. ...
  6. Notice when you are being self-critical. ...
  7. Quiet the negative messages of your inner critic.

How do I make amends to past mistakes? ›

How to Make Amends
  1. Step 1: Acknowledge Your Role in the Situation. In the immediate aftermath of a mistake, give yourself time to cool down and think about what happened, but don't wait too long to start making amends. ...
  2. Step 2: Plan Your Approach. ...
  3. Step 3: Communicate Your Intentions. ...
  4. Step 4: Learn From Your Mistake.

How many times does God tell us to remember? ›

There are some things we are told in the Bible to 'forget'. There are other things we are repeatedly called to 'remember'. You can make choices about what you choose to 'forget' and what you choose to 'remember'. The word 'remember' in its various Hebrew and Greek forms occurs over 250 times in the Bible.

What does God say about the past? ›

Our past has changed, because, in God's eyes, we have no past, only a great future. In Jeremiah 29:11, He says: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

How many times does the Bible say do not forget? ›

The word “remember” is used over 1,200 times in the Bible. The word “forget” is used over 300 times. Why are these words used so frequently? It is really pretty simple.

What God says about letting go? ›

18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

What is true forgiveness? ›

Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.

How do you let go and let God? ›

How to Let Go and Let God, One Day at a Time
  1. 1) Identify what you can control—and what you can't. ...
  2. 2) Address what you can control. ...
  3. 3) Surrender what you can't control. ...
  4. 4) Meditate on the promises of your faithful God. ...
  5. 5) Choose a “letting go” motto. ...
  6. 6) Resolve not to act on fear but on faith.

What do you call a person who never forgives? ›

(ʌnfərgɪvɪŋ ) adjective. If you describe someone as unforgiving, you mean that they are unwilling to forgive other people.

What are the benefits of forgiveness? ›

The good news: Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression and stress.

Can you forgive and still be angry? ›

Anger and forgiveness are partners. In reality, anger and forgiveness work together (and often at the same time) in any real healing process. Though anger and forgiveness may seem to be opposing forces, they are actually completely equal partners in the journey toward healing.

What are the four stages of forgiveness? ›

4 Steps to Forgiveness
  • "To understand forgiveness, you must first understand what forgiveness is not," psychiatrist Dr. Ned Hallowell says in his book Dare to Forgive. ...
  • Pain and Hurt. Dr. ...
  • Reliving and Reflecting. ...
  • Working It Out. ...
  • Renounce Your Anger and Resentment.
Sep 9, 2009

How do I stop being bitter and forgive? ›

  1. Admit that you feel bitter. You've got to know it's there—and face it—in order to leave it behind.
  2. Acknowledge who hurt you and that you hold on to the hurt. Ask yourself why you won't let it go. ...
  3. Let go. ...
  4. Forgive. ...
  5. Change your expectations. ...
  6. Know that you are bigger than bitterness. ...
  7. Get help if you need it.
Apr 3, 2015

How do you forgive past hurts? ›

How to Let Go of Things from the Past
  1. Create a positive mantra to counter the painful thoughts. ...
  2. Create physical distance. ...
  3. Do your own work. ...
  4. Practice mindfulness. ...
  5. Be gentle with yourself. ...
  6. Allow the negative emotions to flow. ...
  7. Accept that the other person may not apologize. ...
  8. Engage in self-care.

What are the 7 steps to true forgiveness? ›

7 Steps to True Forgiveness
  • Step 1: Acknowledge. Acknowledge the hurt. ...
  • Step 2: Consider. Consider how the hurt and pain has affected you. ...
  • Step 3: Accept. Accept that you cannot change the past. ...
  • Step 4: Determine. Determine whether or not you will forgive. ...
  • Step 5: Repair. ...
  • Step 6: Learn. ...
  • Step 7: Forgive.
Dec 10, 2013

What personality type holds grudges? ›

People with paranoid personality disorder see threats all around them. They tend to hold grudges, dwelling to the point of obsession over past slights they've experienced. These tendencies keep them from forming lasting and close relationships as hostility and general distrust consume their emotional lives.

How do I let go of past trauma? ›

Some strategies to help improve your mental health and well-being after trauma include:
  1. Stay connected to your support system.
  2. Find healthy activities that help with self-expression.
  3. Move your body in gentle ways like stretching, yoga, or walking.
  4. Eat balanced meals.
  5. Keep a regular sleep routine.
Jan 26, 2022

How do I stop being angry and resentful? ›

Treating Resentment
  1. Consider Why It's Difficult to Forgive.
  2. Use Self-Compassion.
  3. Try Empathy.
  4. Lean Into Gratitude. It's normal to get caught up in all the negative things happening around you. You can bring more happiness and positivity into your life by focusing on the things that are going right.
Dec 29, 2022


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