Are you struggling with how to forgive your offender?
After 20 years of counseling women, I’ve discovered the main reason a woman doesn’t want to forgive her offender is because she doesn’t want to let the person who hurt her “off the hook.”
Yet, to forgive your offender — a person who has hurt you deeply — means you are letting YOURSELF off the hook.
In my book When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts, I talk about the healing power of releasing yourself through forgiveness.
We remain in chains of emotional bondage to those we refuse to forgive. By withholding forgiveness we are saying “You will never be able to make this right” and ultimately, “I will always hold onto this pain.” And yet, by holding onto that pain we find ourselves stuck in our hurts — sometimes for years. That is where you don’t want to be…stuck in a place of pain.
To forgive your offender — and release yourself:
- Don’t wait for the apology. Chances are your offender will never ask for your forgiveness. Even if he did, he will never be able to undo the hurt he caused you. Therefore, your forgiveness is a gift that you give to someone because of how God has unreservedly forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).
- Don’t feel you have to meet face-to-face or resume the relationship. Just because you forgive someone does not mean you are saying “We can be friends again” or “You can hurt me again” or even “Yes, I will meet with you.” Forgiveness happens in your heart when you say “I am releasing you from the expectation that you will ever be able to make right the hurt you caused me. ” You can still have boundaries for your protection.
- Don’t expect that you will forget. To forgive and forget is something only God is capable of. We have memories and, perhaps for our protection, we tend to remember hurtful things. When the offense comes to mind, remind yourself “I have released that person from their obligation toward me” and move on, mentally and emotionally.
The important thing is that you don’t let the offense — or the offender — continue to keep you on THEIR emotional hook.
Have you experienced the freedom of forgiveness? I would love to hear your story, and I know others would, too.