“Wait, you want me to FORGIVE them?”
I know I’m not the only one who’s had this thought before. 🙋♀️
When you’re hurt deeply by someone else, forgiveness can seem impossible. How do you forget what they did? Can you trust them again? What if the person you’re trying to forgive is yourself – or even God?
The pain of going through two miscarriages this year has led me to some pretty raw anger at God, and even at my own body. So forgiveness has been heavy on my heart.
Forgiveness isn’t easy. And it isn’t a one-and-done, let’s-Amazon-Prime-this, kind of experience (even if that’s how I really want it to be).
But forgiveness is powerful and can lead to a lot of healing, which is why I spoke with someone who’s walked through the long journey of forgiveness and come out the other end.
Forgiving What You Can’t Forget
You may have heard of today’s podcast guest, Lysa TerKeurst. Lysa is president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and the New York Times best-selling author of the books It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, Uninvited, and MANY more.
After finding out her husband had been unfaithful, Lysa began a long journey of forgiveness and eventually reconciliation.
In her newest book, Forgiving What You Can’t Forget, Lysa shares the messy middle of her story and what she’s learned about forgiveness and letting go of bound-up resentment.
Lysa and I had such a great conversation on the show talking about what forgiveness really looks like. Needless to say, there’s 👏 so 👏 much Lysa wisdom packed into this episode that is going to bless you.
When FORGIVENESS feels UNFAIR
One of the first things Lysa and I talked about was how HARD it can be to forgive someone. A lot of times, forgiveness can feel like an obligation – something we have to do in order to be a good person.
Forgiveness can also feel like an unfair gift you have to give to the person who hurt you, to the person who deserves it the least.
But Lysa shared something that really stuck out to me: “Forgiveness isn’t an unfair gift we have to give to the person who hurt us. Forgiveness is actually God’s greatest mercy for the hurting human heart to be able to heal.”
That doesn’t mean forgiveness will instantly fix trust, mend relationships, or make you feel better. But it does help you clear out your heart of the toxicity of bitterness that’s damaging you physically and emotionally.
Lysa also said that it’s crucial to start by acknowledging your feelings.
When it comes to forgiveness, a lot of people are taught to set their feelings aside, like they don’t matter.
But one of the first steps we need to take is to acknowledge those feelings and validate them. Be honest with yourself about them and share them with God, a counselor, or a trusted friend.
Lysa shared this word of encouragement: “You deserve to stop suffering because of what another person has done to you and the only way to sever that source of suffering is through the power of forgiveness.”
So if you’re hurting, just know that your feelings are valid, and acknowledging them is the first step in the healing process.
FORGIVENESS IS A DECISION AND A PROCESS
So, what does forgiveness actually look like?
Forgiving someone isn’t a one-and-done thing. Forgiveness is both a decision and a process.
There’s a moment in time where we decide to forgive. But after that, it’s a spiritual practice and a journey we live out each day.
We’ll all get triggered by our pain even after we’ve said the words “I forgive you.” And when that happens, we have to walk through the process of forgiveness again for the impact the pain has had on us.
Every trauma has both fact and impact. We’ve gotta leave room and space in our lives to walk through the emotional healing process as we continue to experience the impact of what happened.
Sometimes, the person you’re really angry at is yourself, and you don’t know how to forgive yourself.
I asked Lysa about this and she said this: “The Bible doesn’t say we can forgive ourselves. What we’re really struggling with isn’t forgiving ourselves, but receiving God’s forgiveness and learning to move forward.”
Some of the heaviest weight we carry is shame and regret.
When those two become our burden, that’s when we have to remind ourselves that God doesn’t see us as the sum total of the bad things we’ve done. His love isn’t tainted by what we do or don’t do.
Sometimes, what we really need is to let ourselves receive God’s love and the love of the people around us, so we can begin to move forward without the weight of shame and guilt.
Sometimes when difficult things happen, we get angry at God. We’re so deep in our hurt and we can’t understand why God wouldn’t stop the source of our pain.
We begin to ask, “How could a good God do nothing?”
As Lysa said, “It’s not that we need to forgive God, because He’s never sinned. But we need to wrestle with the fact that we don’t always understand God and it’s hard to trust what we don’t understand.”
Then she said, “What we do know about God is that He is faithful and He’s not a ‘do nothing’ God. He’s always doing something and He does His very best work in the unseen places.”
If you’re struggling with the pain of a broken heart, unsure how to forgive someone who deeply hurt you, or if you’re angry at God and feeling like bitterness is taking root, then make sure you join in on this candid discussion.
Tune into the podcast episode to learn:
- What forgiveness really looks like
- How to find emotional healing in your pain
- Why you need to acknowledge your hurt
- What to do if you’re angry at yourself or God
- How to prevent bitterness from taking root
Want to learn more about Lysa and her book? Head over to lysaterkeurst.com.
Then let us know in the comments: How have you experienced the power of forgiveness in your life?