Explore
Follow Us

5 Steps to forgiving someone who hurt you

Every day you live with the pain of raw, exposed nerve endings – the throb of bitterness, the flashbacks, the thoughts of how things could have played out differently.  We all deal with it. To be human is to suffer extreme pain – betrayal and wounding is normal. We all get wounded. Yet, …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Every day you live with the pain of raw, exposed nerve endings – the throb of bitterness, the flashbacks, the thoughts of how things could have played out differently. 

We all deal with it. To be human is to suffer extreme pain – betrayal and wounding is normal. We all get wounded. Yet, sometimes the pain of that loss is so unspeakable that we don't even have the vocabulary to describe what it's doing to us.

The result is often a feeling of bitterness that holds us prisoner and walls us off from a part of ourselves. It's irrational, yet we feel powerless to change – we're actually punishing ourselves and expecting the person who wounded us to suffer.

The only way out of that prison, of course, is forgiveness. If you're struggling to forgive, here are five steps to take.

  1. Understand who hurt you and what their motivations may have been.
  2. Recognize what unforgiveness has done – locked you in a prison.
  3. Write out your forgiveness in a journal to clarify your thoughts.
  4. Ask to sit down with the person. Tell them how what they did hurt you; then forgive them, no strings attached.
  5. Every time old memories and feelings come up, forgive the person again, pray for them and keep forgiving.

 

I remember suffering two betrayals. And though I forgave both parties right away, I still struggled for a couple of years to figure out if I could ever trust again and if so, who I could trust.

I began to heal when I chose to forgive. It didn't stop the pain or the flashbacks, but it did drain the infected wound inside me. Then, every time that those memories came to mind, I chose to forgive again, because forgiveness is never a one-time event. Every time the old memories are stirred up, you have to do the hard thing and forgive again.

Jesus began his ministry by pounding this theme. Read Matthew 5-7 and count how many times he said things like, "Pray for those who give you a hard time." If we claim to be a follower of Jesus, we'll do what he says (1 John 2:1-6 is unequivocal on this score – we have no wiggle room). As hard as this may seem, we simply have to forgive; we have no other scriptural options.

Comments (7)

  • Always a pertinent topic. I’ve found myself recently saying afresh over and over again, when needed, “I forgive…” But I believe the first step is remembering the forgiveness we received. Not sure why we make the sins against us so far bigger than the price Jesus paid for ours. We have a hard time getting a handle on that reality. “If you do not forgive your brother from your heart, neither will I forgive you.” That is VERY heavy-duty. For me, I’ve got to remember the preciousness of having a clean and clear relationship with God in order to follow through on the other steps. It’s still not easy and immediate, but the need to forgive brings the Cross front and center before me.

  • st. mark of the cross

    Good word Seth… in my life with forgiving, when the devil, a person, or whatever reminds me in my thought life of those I forgave; especially, if they “appear” to have not suffered at all, or don’t even care that they hurt me…when the thoughts to be angry, lick my HEALED wounds bombard me…I choose to bless and pray for people and don’t stop until the thoughts leave. It works for me! I thank the Lord for my own forgiveness, and bless everyone I can think of. Here is something I learned about “blessing” those who hurt/offend us. I don’t pray that God will bless them to continue their wicked ways, I pray that they will come to Jesus to be forgiven & healed. I struggled for years forgiving and “blessing” wicked sinners/saints alike who wounded me or my family–I did the religious words “Lord forgive & bless them” but it was not in my heart. I then learned that God doesn’t want us to bless evil, but to bless evil to know & be redeemed by Jesus.

  • Thanks for this post. It articulated what I’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) to explain to a few friends for a long time. While I have forgiven, “it” still resurfaces when I see the person or the topic is on a TV program or part of a sermon. Friends say, “get over it already. Let bygones be bygones.” I have done that. I am as “over it” as one can be. I have forgiven. I wish the other person well. But, your words explain how I feel: It didn’t stop the pain or the flashbacks, but it did drain the infected wound inside me. Then, every time that those memories came to mind, I chose to forgive again, because forgiveness is never a one-time event. Every time the old memories are stirred up, you have to do the hard thing and forgive again.

    The pain and flashbacks will lessen but not disappear. I can’t erase my memory although I’d like to some days. But, I can rest in Him and His perfect will, choosing to forgive again and again.

  • Well said…we have no choice but to forgive and most especially if we want to live a life of total freedom!!!

  • When a wound happens, just prior to the need to forgive, the enemy will whisper of anger, hurt, self pity and how you are a victim. He dangles those carrots and you choose. As soon ad you do that emotion becomes embedded with the event/person/place or situation. The enemy leaves never having to return to that spot. It is territory taken. The root is planted and as more situations arise the carrots get bigger and before you know it you are eating poison hoping everyone who wronged you would die. Like you said Seth, every time we choose forgiveness it is like a swipe of the ax to the root. Enough swipes it will whither up and die. Great blog!

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Radical Living:

Receive updates on the latest posts as Seth Barnes covers many topics like spiritual formation, what if means to be a christian, how to pray, and more. Radical Living blog is all about a call to excellence in ministry, church, and leadership -as the hands and feet of Jesus.

Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



© Adventures In Missions. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy | RSS Feed | Sitemap