Why Is It So Hard To Forgive?

Written by Lynette Hoy NCC, LCPC

forgive-pgHuman behavior suggests that people are “hard-wired” to retaliate when they have been hurt by another person.  Our pride or self-esteem is injured. Our expectations or dreams are disappointed.  We lose something very valuable to us.  We want recompense for the damages.

But there are other resistances which block our motivation to forgive.  Automatic thoughts or beliefs impede us from forgiving others.  We tell ourselves, “I won’t forgive because he/she never accepts responsibility for what he/she does” or  “I would be a hypocrite if I forgave because I do not feel like forgiving” or  “Forgiving is only for weak people”.

Explanations for behavior can also get in the way. When someone hurts us or lets us down  we tend to assign internal causes for behavior to others.  We argue that it is based on personality or character traits.  We tell ourselves, “he’s just so forgetful or careless” or “she doesn’t appreciate me” or “she did that purposefully”.   We judge them harshly.

But when we do something wrong or hurtful/disappointing we tend to excuse our own behavior by attributing external causes. In those cases we say  “my child made a mess” or  “there was a car accident on the highway.”  We tend to let ourselves off the hook and give ourselves permission to fail.

This is what psychologists call the “Fundamental Attribution Error”. We assign total responsibility or blame to others for their behavior while explaining away our own negative actions in terms of situational factors.  In other words, it’s not our fault because….

It’s important to note that understanding and accepting the error in behavior does not relieve the offending person of moral responsibility.  Forgiving someone does not cancel out the consequences of their actions. The goal is to promote empathy and forgiveness and look more realistically at the hurtful events from their point of view.” This involves thinking the best of people rather than jumping to harsh conclusions about their character or intentions.

Lack of empathy (empathy is the psychological highway to forgive others) for others can also get in the way of our ability to forgive.  We can develop empathy for others by beginning to change our way of thinking.  It is impossible to fully know why a person acted the way that they did.  Make room from grace.

When have you been able to have empathy for someone who has hurt you?  Ask yourself “do I want things bitter or better?”  Forgiveness has a huge impact on our own health and feelings.  Forgiveness is not so much about the other person as it is about our own hearts.  Forgiveness is for our benefit, but so often things get in the way.  Think of a time when you have needed forgiveness.

Don’t let resentment imprison you for life, it will destroy you and your other relationships. Lewis Smedes wrote:  “To forgive is to set the prisoner free…and to discover that the prisoner was you.”   Let go of the pain.  Give it to God. For God alone understands more than anyone the pain and humiliation you feel.  Jesus felt more pain, rejection and humiliation than any person.

Letting go of your hurts is often not an overnight experience.  It takes time, but as you work toward it you’ll find that it is worth the effort.  Ask God to give you the grace to forgive.

The ability to forgive is rooted in being forgiven ourselves. In the Bible it says that God loves the world so much that he sent his only son so that we could be forgiven.  As people we all make mistakes, not one of us can live up to the standard God set on our own.  But God promises that if we accept what Jesus did for us, we can be forgiven. The slate can be wiped clean no matter what has happened in the past.  God promises us strength for today and bright hope for the future.  Whatever happened in your yesterdays God can take care of all of your tomorrows.

You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Saviour and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of woman you want me to be.

If this prayer expresses the desire of your heart, pray it right now and Christ will come into your life as He promised. If you invited Jesus Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you and that you have eternal life. As you learn more about your relationship with God, and how much He loves you, you’ll experience life to the fullest.


49 Responses to “Why Is It So Hard To Forgive?”

  • Elkay Elkay says:

    At John 8:36, Jesus said “If He, the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” and because He came to fulfill the requirements of the Law and Prophets (Matt 5:17) we are free from seeking to achieve salvation by obeying laws. Paul explains at Gal 5:16, 18, “Walk in the Spirit, and let the Spirit bring order to your life. When you are led by the Spirit, you are no longer subject to the law.” The Voice goes on to expound:

    As free people, the Spirit gives us the characteristics of Jesus; we too can freely love and forgive in joy and peace. For those who follow Jesus and live in the Spirit, these characteristics are a gift from God, especially that of having a spirit of forgiveness.

  • Brian says:

    Christianity is not a religion its the way of life, just how jesus deal
    Deal with life. Religion confines you its rules confines you
    anybody who says they are a Christian and try use it to hurt, stir
    stir up truble deceive them selfs and the weak minded who listen
    to thm. Most religion you cant eat this you cant do that.
    God has given you freedom, but poeple call the things that God
    Created rules like you shall not kill, you shall not lie. These thins
    They call rules they are there from stop you from being confined
    By by consequences if you kill surely enough you yourself
    Will be killed. If you lie in from of the judge and they know your
    Lieing your gonna be confine in prison. Gods rules are freedom from
    Death and destruction. Religion tells you what to do,but god gives you free will.
    My point is that the name Christianity is being abuse by those who use it for there own perpose
    And does not want to live by it.

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    to commonsense and angel– I agree with you if Broken’s brother has broken any laws by stealing then yes this person should go to jail. I am sorry you feel that way about me, I was trying to be sensitive to broken and I try to as a person to be nice and helpful and loving to all people. I am human I have a family member that doesn’t tell the truth so I know a little about how broken is feeling. it is hard to forgive only in God that we can. I know prayers are not the only thing that works along with repenting and reconciliation but prayers does help also. it sounds like you both don’t believe in God either I am sorry for that, there is peace in HIM that believes in JESUS.– Sharon

  • Angel says:

    To Commonsense and Sharon,

    AGREED exactly what Commonsense said. Sharon, it’s morally WRONG to put Christianity above an abusive and evil act which was worse than what a BEAST would do!
    I can’t believe you continued to hurt ‘Broken’. Your comments on your prayer are so INHUMAN. Can I suggest you live like a human first and try to put your feet into the other person’s shoes? Can you imagine the pain? The only solution is to pray so that that abusive beast who happens to be a devoted Christian receives his punishment and be sent to jail so that at least some truth prevails and the broken person can at least move on ‘a little’ in her painful and broken life. That also, it is not going to undo the permanent damage and the ongoing public humiliation and pain that Broken will still need to endure in her life. I suggest Broken to just delete off this website. Some people here are just as BAD. That I mean horribly BAD, not just NOT NICE CHRISTIANS.

  • Commonsense says:

    Dear Sharon,

    I believe you’re not listening and being sensible. I disagree with you that some Christians are not nice. No! From what has been described, that abusive Christian was close to evil and worse than a beast. And you pay that the unfortunate person who has been abused seek forgiveness, from WHO for what, oh yeah, seeking forgiveness for being abused and had her life ruined? And you pray so that that abusive brother can open his eyes and see what he has done to HIMSELF? He loved himself too much and you’re praying so that he is able to see that this is what he is doing for himself, for loving himself too much? For he believes in JESUS he shall be SAVED from taking responsibility for ruining other people’s life? You should pray that he admits his guilt and receives punishment and be sent to jail so that JESUS can save him. Otherwise, you keep on praying so that he be saved and the other person’s life is forever ruined. You are utterly insensible. You don’t know how to talk and act like a proper and NORMAL human being. I wonder if you’re a liar and a jealous person who likes to ruin other people’s life, and then pray that you be saved just because you’re a Christian? When you group the one being abused and the one who was abusive together in your so called prayer, you’re actually INSULTING her (the one been wrong) and adding salt to her eternal wound! And stop praying for either of them. She does not want this kind of ABUSIVE & INSULTING prayer. For this I pray that you repent!

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    to Broken– you are right forgiving someone is not letting go of their consequences it is letting of your hurt. I am sorry of your struggles of your mom and brother. it sounds like are hurt people themselves that doesn’t make it right either. are you a believer if not here is a prayer for you to pray I repent of my sins and I put my life in your hands God from now on this way if you can maybe In time forgive them and maybe give them to God. I am praying for you it is not easy to forgive– Sharon

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    to Broken- I am sorry that your brother has ruined your life. in the bible it says if believe in your heart that JESUS is LORD you shall be saved. for your brother if he believes in JESUS he shall be saved if he repents he will go to Heaven. also in the bible it says liars, unrepentant and others things will not enter the kingdom of heaven. I am praying for you Christianity is really a good religion some Christians are not nice God is love and HE loves you with an everlasting love and HE died for you and your brother. God I pray for this brother to open his eyes to see on what he is doing to himself and his brother and to you I pray for his heart to soften and repent to you and his brother I pray all of this in JESUS name amen.-I am praying for you. – Sharon

  • Broken says:

    And the bad eldest brother who framed and abused me is a devoted and baptized Christian. He said I deserved to be ‘educated’ this way and said I’m no good cause I’m not a Christian.
    Oh my God, such bad Christian who is so PHYSICALLY ABUSIVE , JEALOUS and a LIAR and RUINED someone’s life and JOBLESS for 5 years (because he hit his colleague) and STOLE money from the church whilst he was managing the finance in the Church can be allowed to do that just because he is a devoted Christian and he will go to heaven cause he believes in Jesus Christ. How SINFUL is this religion.

  • Broken says:

    To Chris and Sharon,

    ‘ Forgiving someone does not cancel out the consequences of their actions’.
    It’s not about the hurt. It’s about dealing with the consequences.
    When I was young, my mom would continuously abuse me with sexual words and reward my jealous brother for physically abusing me. She persisted until I was in my 20s, when my self esteem was developing. I couldn’t concentrate on my studies as I would face her yelling ‘[expletive removed]’ each time I leave the house and come home. God was indeed very CRUEL to me as despite knowing I suffered so much at that time, luck was not on my side when I moved out to a student house, I was treated badly by my housemate and financially, I was not supported adequately by my family. So I decided to take a break from studies in which all the PROBLEMS aroused cause my mom plotted with my aunt to take me to a psychiatrist, saying I can’t study cause I got problem in my head etc etc. I didn’t know they were taking me to a psychiatrist and I told them I just need a break and by taking me to the psychiatrist, it would ruin my life. They kept banging my door and I couldn’t sleep, coupled by the fact that I was in my early 20s and I don’t have a degree and and financially dependent on them, I had to succumbed to their request, otherwise they will keep shouting and FORCING me and I couldn’t sleep. So the damages from there begin, the psychiatrist didn’t do any blood test, just put me on loads of medication until I became drowsy and couldn’t go to college anymore. Then my brother would regularly come to my room and physically hit and kicked me on my stomach and head. My mom would manipulate my dad until he hit me so badly (he seldom hits me) that I bled and my teeth fell off (Today I am wearing false teeth) Then my brother and my mom went to my college without my permission, I was stigmatized and then I got a termination letter from the college. I fought with my mom endlessly for what she did to ruin my life and she and my brother then plotted and called the police to involuntarily send me to a psychiatric ward in a hospital. They did that when my dad and other sibling were not around. (My mom was extremely pleased as she had managed to bring me down to a level where I can no longer pursue my studies and so all the inheritance would go to my eldest brother). My dad found out and then immediately sorted it out and I was let out of the hospital. After more than 10 years, I found out that the admission details is there and everyone in the hospital had access to it electronically and if I were to work as a doctor anywhere in the country, people can easily sabotage me. People will say I have a psychiatric illness to the extent that I got admitted into a psychiatric ward. No one would have ever thought that the truth is it was a covered case of FAMILY ABUSE and a conspiracy by my mom and brother to ruin my career so that I don’t use the family inheritance for studies. Several years passed and I worked my way ignoring the hurt and became a doctor in a foreign country. I felt I couldn’t go back to my country and I am hiding myself from what has happened. It was so UNFAIR I previously dealt with the stigma more that 10 years ago when I was sooo young in my early 20s (and still unidependent as my country does not support the minority race) and if I want to clear the matter, I will need to report to the police and send both my mother and brother to jail for abusing me and falsifying the truth. Even so, that will not remove the electronic admission detail. If not, I will just have to NOT return to my country and keep hiding or hope people don’t give me any problem. I never had any PEACE ever since that those incidents. My career as a doctor in my home country had been completely RUINED by my mom and brother. I’m homesick. In this instance, how am I going to forgive them when basically, I don’t have any security and peace within myself despite more than 10 years and everyday hoping that I will be given an illness so that I would die as soon as possible? My life had been TOO painful for too many years. I vowed to myself that I will not attend my mom and eldest brother’s funerals if they are gone, neither will I want them present on my funeral or wedding. I don’t see myself working my home country anymore eventhough I am so homesick and I miss all my long term friends. My life will be hell as I knew people can sabotage and stigmatize me easily- everyone in the hospital (more than 5000 staffs) had electronic access and they can see the basic details of the admission into the ward and spread it around without knowing what actually happened. I’m living low profile and hiding and hoping people don’t give me problem. What kind of life is that??? How am I to forgive when I still need to deal with the consequences of their action?

  • Chris Chris says:

    broken…i am sorry to hear of your struggles however i would encourage you to know having suffered abandonment myself from my wife and children that i have learned noone can ruin our lives if we dont let them. through faith in God and his son jesus christ, nothing is too hard to overcome through Gods grace upon us. you can read an excellent history about Joseph in gen 39 to 50 in seeing how he was able to not guard resentment against his brothers who had sold him into slavery. you see unforgiveness only hurts us, not the other person. its true that we may not want to spend time with our families until they can stop their wrongdoings towards us but we mustnt permit them to keep us in an emotional and spiritual jail. jesus has paid too high a Price for our freedom that has nothing to do with people or their actions. for more information on knowing jesus personally as your lord and savior and to be able to help your family know his wonderful love too log onto…knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above. i pray that jesus would heal your heart as you see his kingdom is above all of our earthly difficulties and we can live in victory through our faith in him and his promises in jesus name amen!

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    to BROKEN– I feel for you I would love to defamily my oldest brother and sister in law I have been hurt by my sister in law for pretty well all of my life I just like two to three years ago I found out that I have been lied to i like her and got caught up in her bitterness against my family it was my own feeling too i am sorry that your mom and brother has hurt you i keep going with them because they are family. for me too i have a hard time forgiving her mostly she keep lying to me but God does say let that hurt go that is their problem and pray for them and still forgive them we are commanded it from God i know it is easier said than done God says if we forgive those who have hurt us my father in Heaven will forgive us our sins also JESUS died for our sins so how more should we forgive those who have hurt us. i am praying for you that you can in time forgive your mom and brother.– Sharon

  • Broken says:

    And to S.A.M.,

    Yes, thank you for sharing your experience.
    You have withstand all the abuse just like what I did as a child and growing up to be an adult.
    Sometimes, I wish we can keep in touch with the circle of those who had been not just been abused but also had their adult life ruined by their family. I find so difficult to explain to society and friends as most had publicized their happy family photos. Mine was extreme and I felt I was left alone to deal with this. I am unable to explain the evilness they had done to my life. Career in my home country completely ruined and I don’t see a purpose in my life. Why my life is so painful and this ongoing pain and consequences still persists for more than 15 years? Sometimes, I wish I have a short lifespan so I can leave this world ASAP.

  • Broken says:

    “Forgiving someone does not cancel out the consequences of their actions”.
    I am left to deal with the consequences for more than 15 years and many more years to come. The ongoing insecurity followed by the permanent damages persisted for more than 15 years. Lately, I found out that I would still need to deal with the consequences of the lies and damages by my emotionally abusive mom and physically abusive ‘devoted Christian’ brother. They completed ruined my life and career on purpose. Yes, I have tried to forgive them even though they are not worth the forgiveness but then, who will help with to deal with the permanent consequences? It has been ongoing for more than 15 years. So I decided they are not worth the pain that I have gone through. I have decided to dishonour them and just said I don’t have a family. They’re all dead. I wished I wasn’t born into their family. It’s so unfortunate to have my life ruined by them.

  • Shelley Shelley says:

    May the Lord our God bless you my friend.

  • fortunate says:

    I’ve learned so much about forgiveness, yes is hard to forgive but we have to do dat I was in the very same situation of not forgiving but now I willing to do dat since 2013 12 july a havint tlk to them or eat the food they cook until now I’m cooking my own food in my room I started to cook suturday all dat tym I was buying thinking mybe they will change they’re attitude

  • Chris Chris says:

    very right….sorry to hear of your experience. having been abandoned and divorced by my wife unjustly, i can identify with your pain however we do need to remember based on luke 7 in the new testament how much christ has forgiven us of our sins first. jesus said he or she who has been forgiven of Little, loves Little but he or she who has been forgiven of much, loves much. when we truly realize just how much christ has forgiven us of, as stated in Matthew 18, a debt of a million dollars or more, then we can more easily forgive those who have sinned against us. yes adultery is serious and your wife should be very sorry for what she has done but if she has repented and asked your forgiveness, how can you not forgive her and give her another chance since christ has done that for us so many, many times? ephes 4.32 says to be kind one to another, tender hearted forgiving one another, even as God for christ sake has forgiven us. since we were the ones nailing christ to the tree because of our sins and God in christ has reconciled us to himself, shall we do any less for those who have failed us? if you would like to know more about this wonderful forgiveness first for your own life and then for the life of your wife, log onto…knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above. i pray jesus would soften your heart to extend forgiveness to your wife if she has indeed repented so that you can know what it is to be conformed to the very image of jesus himself. blessings!

  • Very Right says:

    How in the world can you forgive a woman who Cheats?, especially when i had this happen to me after 15 years being together.

  • Elkay Elkay says:

    I hope we can all relate to this: I have unintentionally hurt people whom I love (I am not the sensitive person I would like to be) and, in anger, I have hurt people “on purpose”. I have asked both groups to forgive me, confessed that I was wrong and where possible, tried to make it right. In both cases, I ask myself “Why?” and the answer I get is that I am a sinner, by nature and by my purpose. But that is not God’s desire for me; He wants me to be more like His Son Jesus Christ who asked God to forgive the misguided people who were crucifying Him. Stephen was being stoned and had the same prayer for his murderers.

    We must learn to forgive others, even those who harm us on purpose, because that is the example Christ set and when all is said and done, at the end of life, the only thing that counts is how well we have followed Him. Is this hard to do? Absolutely! But with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can try.

  • 123456789 says:

    Why should weforgive those who hurt us on purpose? Don’t! And learn not to associate with that ungrateful idiot

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    good article I think its hard to forgive because maybe we can’t forgive ourselves. just a thought

  • Shelley Shelley says:

    Dear Father God,

    Lord I pray for this blogger, that You said in Your Word, that You can forgive someone many times, except the unforgiving of the Holy Spirit. I pray that this comment will help them and all who read this article.In Jesus Name amen

  • Chris Chris says:

    neha…if you have asked forgiveness, then the person is obligated to forgive or else that person, according to jesus, isnt forgiven by his words found in Matthew 18. if through christ you have asked for forgiveness, then noone has the right to not forgive whom jesus has forgiven. who is greater than christ? romans 8 says. for help on growing up into christ in all things check…alphausa.org. . .i pray today you live in the freedom of guilt jesus bought for you at calvary and that your friend learns to forgive even as jesus has forgiven us in jesus name amen!

  • Neha says:

    Wat if v forgive but even then the other person shows attitude n starts treating us as if we were guilty n doesnt care to end up issues.

  • Mary Pinckney Mary Pinckney says:

    I can relate all too well to your cry for help. I understand the difficulty you face in trying to forgive and move forward. I don’t have any easy answers for you, but I can share this with you; forgiveness is a process. I had to forgive the one that raped and molested me. I had to forgive those I felt were responsible, and I had to forgive myself. The actions against us produced scars that can only be healed by the Lord. For me it took admitting the pain I felt, coming to terms with what happened and exchanging my ashes, pain, heartache, for God’s peace, love, acceptance. I had to learn that forgiveness is a choice. We choose daily to forgive. When we make the choice to forgive it frees us. You are on the right track with praying for those that hurt you. The more you do, the more you will begin to understand why they do what they do. I want to encourage you to continue along these lines. It maybe a good idea to pick up a copy of Joyce Meyer’s Beauty for Ashes and Do Yourself a Favor and Forgive books also to help you along this journey. Those have been instrumental for me in my walk. The Bible will also be a great guide and comfort for you during this time. If you would like to talk to a mentor to help you more on a one on one basis, please feel free to do so: http://powertochange.com/discover/talk-to-a-mentor/

    Father, I pray for my sister. I ask that you will minister peace, healing, and the grace to forgive to her heart. Surround her with the support and the encouragement she needs during this journey of healing. I thank you for making yourself known to her as the Lord God her healer. Allow her to experience the freedom that comes through forgiveness in Jesus name Amen.
    Blessings to you!

  • Doris Beck Doris Beck says:

    My heart goes out to you. When we don’t forgive we are prisoners or our own hurt. Someone once said that when we fail to forgive, it is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die. In other words, by not forgiving others, we ourselves are hurt, not the other people.

    Bongeka, the author of this article makes the same point: “Forgiveness is not so much about the other person as it is about our own hearts. Forgiveness is for our benefit, but so often things get in the way. Think of a time when you have needed forgiveness.

    Don’t let resentment imprison you for life, it will destroy you and your other relationships. Lewis Smedes wrote: “To forgive is to set the prisoner free…and to discover that the prisoner was you.” Let go of the pain. Give it to God. For God alone understands more than anyone the pain and humiliation you feel. Jesus felt more pain, rejection and humiliation than any person.

    Letting go of your hurts is often not an overnight experience. It takes time, but as you work toward it you’ll find that it is worth the effort. Ask God to give you the grace to forgive.”

    May I just pray for you today?

    Heavenly Father, I lift Bongeka up to you today. She has experienced much hurt in her life and that hurt has affected her ability to forgive. Lord, help her to realize that the prisoner of her inability to forgive is herself. Show her that You have forgiven her and that You desire that she experience that forgiveness for herself. Amen

    Bongeka, may I also suggest that you take advantage of our online mentors who would love to continue to talk to you privately. Just fill out this form at http://powertochange.com/discover/talk-to-a-mentor/ and then someone will email you back.

  • Doris Beck Doris Beck says:

    CeeCee what you said is so true, forgiveness truly is a daily struggle! But as you forgive, you find that you yourself are released! As the author says so well in this article,’Forgiving someone does not cancel out the consequences of their actions.’ Although you forgave your father, the consequences of his actions are that you still struggle with how the others in your family view your father’s actions. It’s much like eating an onion…..it’s done one layer at a time. Just when you think you have dealt with everything resulting from your father’s actions, something else happens and you realize that you need to forgive again. As you said, your family gives you reasons to pray….keep releasing that hurt and allow God, your Heavenly Father to heal it and fill your heart with love for your family.

  • CeeCee says:

    I think forgiveness is a daily struggle, depending on the depth of the offense. I have been treated brutally by my own family from the time I was very, very young and even now my family downplays the severity of what actually happened. My father was extremely abusive and just a few days ago my sister posted a picture of him and wished him a happy birthday (although he died some years ago). I struggle with this. Some days are good but others I pray for me to be able to forgive. What makes it worse is I have to hear my mother praise my father to the skies. I don’t understand this knowing that she was told and witnessed all that transpired between my father, my sisters and I. One of my sisters died in a foster home because of him and the rest of us have scars that will never go away. I truly have never understood my family and I doubt I ever will. At least they give me a reason to pray. LOL!

  • Bongeka says:

    I grew up having a problem to forgive as I grow up its becoming more worse especially to my husband my step dad and my mum at an eary age I was raped I forgot about it until d other man tried rape me but I was old enough now it was when I remembered everything that happened while I was young I find it difficulty to forgive even my neighbours the other 1 just talked about me calling names and insulted me I have this pain in my heart every time I think about her or when I see her car passing my house I tried to pray for her n her family thinking that if I do that I’m going to b able to forgive her now the pain in my heart is very worse I don’t know what to do so that I can b able to forgive plz help

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Martin, It is a difficult position to be as a spouse. I am sure you feel torn in two directions.

    I think part of God’s purpose for putting a husband and wife together is that their individual strengths can help overcome their individual weaknesses. I have such a hard time with that though. The biggest problem is that my weaknesses get in the way and make the situation worse because I am not being honest about my own shortcomings and insecurities. Jesus talked about it like one person trying help remove a speck from another person’s eye when they have a log in their own eye. How much trust would you have if your wife offered to get a speck of dust out of your eye while she had a great big log sticking out of hers. Yikes!

    Jesus said, “first remove the log out of your own eye so that you can remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5) Let me challenge you to first talk to God about what weaknesses you have that are making this situation worse. Let Him help you be honest about your own shortcomings and deal with those. Talk to your wife about that and ask for her input (and get ready to receive it!) Ask for her help to overcome those places in your life where you are not forgiving or allow bitterness to build up in your life by not being honest about when people hurt you and your family. Talk to God with your wife about forgiveness and love, asking Him to show you how to love other like He does in love and truth.

    As you allow God to help you with your own log, you will soon see Him lead you to help your wife with her speck. Let me pray for you: Lord God, i ask that You would help Martin. I can feel the frustration in his words and he needs clarity from You. Help him to deal honestly with the weaknesses in his own life that are contributing to the broken relationships between his wife and family. Guide his steps to know how to work together with his wife to see those areas transformed. Use that to build the love and trust with his wife and unite them more fully together in this journey. Lord I pray that You would be working in his wife’s life as well and helping her to be honest about the hurt she is feeling over these family relationships. Fill her heart with Your love that forgives and give her the courage to speak honestly with those who have hurt her to help make things right. I pray that You would be praised because of the healing that happens in this family and that others would seek You because of the way You work in this family. Amen.

  • Michael Jantzen M. Jantzen says:

    Hello Martin,

    Thanks so much for sharing some of your story. From reading your comment, it seems to me that you feel divided between your loyalty for your wife and your loyalty to your family.

    While it is absolutely true that she needs to forgive and that doing so would help her be a healthier person mentally and spiritually, forgiveness is not something ‘you’ can create in her heart. But what you can do in the time being is put up some healthy boundaries and model forgiveness to her and to anyone else difficult in your life.

    It seems to me like you need to set a firm boundary. In her mind she seems to be equating ‘you loving and spending time with your family’ as disloyalty to her. That is coming from an insecurity on her part. There is no reason you can’t fully love your family and your wife. Yes, you need to stick up for her, which would mean you confront your family on their rudeness if needed, but you can be loyal to her and still love your family and spend time with them.

    I view love as an inexhaustable resource. The reason is because I understand that my own love is limited, so I’ve connected with God’s unconditional love. And God never runs out of it. With His love in my heart, I can love many people in my life, not just a select few.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to spend time with them equally. If you are showing your wife that she is your first priority, then you should feel free to spend time with your family. How she responds to that is then her heart issue, not yours. There’s no reason to let her bitterness rob you of people you love.

    If you’re interested to know how to really connect to God’s love as a limitless resource and to help you patiently love your wife through this, I would encourage you to make sure that you have begun a relationship with God through receiving his forgiveness. This article explains how very clearly: http://powertochange.com/discover/faith/loveandgod/ Also, if you’d like someone to journey with your down this difficult road, we have confidential mentors available to talk to and encourage you. Here’s the link: http://powertochange.com/discover/talk-to-a-mentor/ Take care, Martin.

  • Martin Heins says:

    I have a wife who has a serious problem with forgiveness.

    Especially when it comes to forgiving my family (her in-laws). In our marriage, there were times when either my brothers, sisters or parents were rude to her. And then my wife would be (righfully) upset.

    She always clashes with my 2 sisters as well.

    But then there were other times, when she would be OK with them (and then everyone is happy). But ineveitably every few months, my family does something else that offends my wife – then she gets drepressed again. Most of the times, my family does small/subtle things (not outright rudeness). And for these things, i think she perhaps is overly sensitive.

    And the effect is that, for many years, i also rarely interact with my family.
    Since, if i act friendly towards them, my wife gets mad at me – since she says i must always side with her.

    I understand that as a man, i am always supposed to stand with her.
    Which i do. The fact that years go by without me being “friendly” with my family is a sign that i am standing with her.
    But that minimal interaction with them is not idea (i would love to spend more time with my parents for example).

    But if i must just act a little friendly to them in the least, then my wife explodes and wants nothing to do with me.
    Following that, we then have days we my wife and i don’t talk.

    The problem is also compounded by the fact that i am someone who forgive very easily. I avoid conflict at all costs. And i just want to get along with everyone.

    I would rather just forgive someone, and be at peach with them, instead of avoiding them and remain angry at them.

    So my views clash with my wife views.

    I wish that she would just forgive my family and move on.
    Not only for my benefit – but also for her own benefit
    (as the depression following incidents make her extremely miserable).

    When i even suggest to her that she must forgive anyone – all hell breaks loose.
    I have tried asking her a few years ago. So won’t ever do that again.

    I wish someone else tells her that.

    What can i do ?

  • Jackie says:

    I stole money from people I really liked I wish I had never done this I feel so guilty

  • Andrew Andrew says:

    @Lou often in life when we are married to someone who is strong willed the male’s ego thinks that she should obey what you say. In my life I have learned that woman are sensitive and shouting at her like your doing due to being frustrated slowly is destroys her soul. You wonder why she does not respond to your emails in all honesty why would she so you can preach at her that she should obey you?

    I understand the culture as my future wife is from Iraq and is very strong willed and I allow her freedom to be her own woman an allow God to direct her I give her direction however I very rarely tell her what she should or not should do with her career. She is a great money manager so we have decided that she become or Chief Finical officer in our home. My only advice I have for you is don’t ask for forgiveness but ask Christ to give you direction via the Holy Spirit as to what you should do or how you should act. As long as you try to be the Holy Spirit and change your wife she’ll run away from. Very simple for you give up control allow Christ to break you and give your will to Christ and allow the spirit to work not you. God Bless

  • Lou says:

    Hi jil my wife are too strong and i always come to the point to ask and beg to her just to forgive me i emailed her a lot asking forgiveness but she is not responding in which thats the only way how we are communicating now.. He deleted me on her fb even all her family deleted me also..i have no any other contact with her except the email…i love her so much but the trials for us are really hard and so painfull… We are working both at the same company at saudi arabia. I hope you know the place how tough all the people there and how they shouts and the way how they talk which most of them are non christians.. Me and my wife stays for five years together there which on the first two years we are fine…but slowly on the next years we are starting to fight which most of the fight starts in our work… In the other place i think i adopt some attitudes of saudi which i always shouts with my wife.. And throwing things but not on her…When shes gone and we are separated now i feel all the pain what i did… Which i change in saudi.. And i realized that was not me before we get married.. That was not me before she loves me so much… I made a mistake and That was past and now i want to change and bring back all my real character same as before that we are happy living together… But i think its too late emphathy even was not with her my wife is so strong and she feels the same where she thinks that to forgive me is foolness and weak things to do..we are Christians even and im trying to explain to her that maybe satan wants us to destroy specially her family are the Pastors and leaders of the church… My explanations to her wont find any answer which i believe her mind is fix not to forgive me at all and forgeting me forever… Do you have any comment for us… Or do you have any words for both of us… Thanks and God bless…

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Jill, I think part of forgiveness–especially between followers of Jesus–is being able to talk to each other about the way that you have been hurt. I know it can be a scary thing and very risky but it is being obedient to “speak the truth in love”. Paul did not say to speak the truth in love only if you know for sure that everything will work out. But our obedience is not dependent on other people’s reaction to us but only to what Jesus response to us is.

    I am in a situation right now where there have been some wrongs done and I have approached those that have done some hurtful things. The response has not been what i had hoped for but if I would have kept silent I would rob my brothers and sisters in Christ the opportunity to recognize their offence and make things right. It has made the relationship strained and uncomfortable but I pray that Jesus will mediate a resolution. But I can only be responsible for my obedience, not for their response. I must say, it is a comfort for me to know that I have been obedient to what I know Jesus was calling me to.

  • Jill says:

    Forgiving is not always so simple. This use to be easy for me but as I get older and the more I get hurt the harder it is to forgive. I know we have to forgive to be forgiven. There’s no doubt in my mind. When you know someone intentionally used you, embarrassed and made fun of you, and this is all done in God’s house , never took responsibility for there actions Until this day you are a joke to laugh at. How is forgiveness possible? I have asked God to help but nothing ever goes away. Ya can’t sweep a problem under a rug and expect it to go away. Forgiveness is not the same as forgetting. I really want to forgive but I don’t see how. I want to for me as they could care less. Infact, if they could hurt me more they probably would.

  • Ary says:

    Hi Jamie. He is really not in talking terms with them. He told me, it’s better to live in peace. Still, I told him to pray for those who have wronged us, so we could forgive them eventually. I know time will come, I will forgive them. But, I will be more cautious.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Ary, I am sorry that you have had such hurtful words from your family. How does your husband feel about his siblings?

  • ARY says:

    Hi. I am carrying a bag of bricks towards my husband’s family. They hurt us in many ways. My friends are telling me to let it go, but I just can’t. To give you a brief background, my husband are 10 siblings. They don’t go along with each other. Since they were young, they always fight. Recently, my husband went back home to visit his dad. All the sibling were mad at us for they were not informed. My SIL called me and shouted at me. I am deeply hurt because nobody ever shouted at me. She uttered words which I can’t accept. Fast forward, my husband came back from vacation. 2 days after, we received the news that my FIL passed away. I couldn’t enumerate one by one all the things that they did to us. Isn’t it sad, when the only family you have don’t treat you as their own? It would take time for me to forgive. I am still bitter and angry for all the things they put us through. It’s better for us to live peacefully, away from them. I don’t want my children to grow up and see what kind of family they are. There is no love. There is no oneness.

  • Geraldine Mitchell says:

    The words on forgiveness is so powerful they encourage me a lot.

  • Kate Kate says:

    Dear Jim,

    Thank you so much for posting your news. It is a wonderful encouragement to us all to know how the Lord has worked in your situation. It also pleasing in the eyes of the Lord that your thanks and praise are to Him. He is awesome and merciful. I pray you will be filled with the Spirit and boldly testify to the people the Lord brings across your path.

    Many blessings! Your sister in the Lord,


  • Jim says:

    Thank you Jamie for your prayer and to everyone else who remembered me in their prayer. God has indeed been merciful and kind to me and my sufferings. My prayer has been answered, it was indeed a difficult task but not impossible for Jesus. My wife and parents no longer have any hard feelings since we talked and prayed together. Lord has changed our hearts to forgive one another and seek peace. We are having dinner together and praying together. Things has never been so gracious for me.
    Thank you Jesus for hearing out my cry and comforting me. Continue to bless me and my family.
    “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hey Jim, I have been praying for you and your family. How have things gone? Have you been able to get them all together? Are they willing to talk things out with each other?

    It is hard enough to work out forgiveness when I have been hurt or have hurt someone else but it gets even more complicated when it is people I love who are at odds with each other. Be encouraged that when you are striving for peace for others you are doing the work of God and therefore He is your best source of help and wisdom. Remember, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

    Lord God, I pray for this son of yours who desperately wants to see relationships healed between his family. I ask Lord that You clearly lead him in the best way to accomplish that peace. I pray that he would let his anxiety go and trust that You have a plan for all of this and will accomplish it in Your perfect timing. Work in the hearts of his parents and wife and soften the hardness that has grown up between. Bring reconciliation and love to this family and allow Your name to be exalted. Amen.

  • Jim says:

    I am very grateful for the wonderful message.
    I am torn between my the misunderstanding and hostility between my wife and my parents. Nothings hurts me more than to see the people i love the most can’t stand each other. Things said and done in the past have created a barrier in our relationship. There seem to be no scope of joy and happiness back in my life. I have been tortured for not being able to fix the problem or find solution. Whatever I have done so far has only make it worst. They just cant seem to forgive and forget, and we are all stuck at one point. Many times my mind has been corrupted, compelling me to make harsh decisions, just feeling helpless and disappointing.
    I know for the fact that forgiveness is the answer but I just didn’t know how to encourage my wife and my parents to take the next step, to give a chance to each other and forgive one another. I know what I have to do now.
    I need courage and prayer to bring my family together. I have called my parents today for prayer meeting and give chance to all to pour out their heartache, listen to each other and show empathy. Please pray for me and my family.

  • Alfred Alfred says:

    Dear S.A.M.,
    My heart goes out to you!
    As the oldest of 5 children, and a technical handyman like my dad, I was not that good at school. I allowed others to “trample on me”. For my mom especially, nothing was ever good enough (as I should be better at the social sciences). I flunked out of university for reading too slowly. Often I was misunderstood for lack of taking time to explain my situation. Somehow I gradually learned to fit into society, and my wife of 50 years has helped me to believe in myself. For many years I’d let go of God which led to many disappointments. When I finally allowed God to turn my around my soul rejoiced. Yet my family did not understand the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit”, and I was again rejected. Life is sometimes so complicated! Yet, when I ask the Lord to prioritize my daily activities and thank Him for all, there is peace and joy. As a perfectionist, however, I sometimes have quite a time with forgiving myself. I have found that I cannot be all things to all people, but that we complement one-another.
    Now, back to your life: God says you are very precious to Him! He alone knows what all you’ve been through and can empathize with your feelings. You are special, S. God will never give any one of us more than we can handle, and often life’s difficult experiences are a preparation for some unique task God has for us. Who could better minister to someone who’s been rejected like you have been? I believe God has a special ministry for you to reach out to the hurting! Do not be surprised if you soon meet someone that no one but you can understand and comfort. Rejoice, for great is your reward in heaven. You need not wait till then, however, for God will let you know when He is pleased at your obeying Him by lifting someone up! Maybe you’ve already felt the thrill from God deep within. Let’s pray:
    Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for helping S.A.M. to stand up from all the abuse she’s received. I thank You for helping her to focus on the positive and for asking You to be her strength. May she raise her children with the love and support that she wishes she’d received. Help her to be lifted up daily as she reads the Bible and seeks Your face. YOU are strong when she is week, and bring joy when the world does not. You are our “all-in-all”, and when everything else fails, You are there for us. Thank You for the ministry that You have prepared S. for. May she find a healthy balance in life, one that includes a Bible-study group and people she can call “family”. Help her to be Spirit led. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
    May God give you the grace to forgive your mother and siblings for looking down on you, for constantly borrowing money, for talking bad behind your back, and then for coming to stay for night….. I like what Lewis Smedes wrote: “To forgive is to set the prisoner free…and to discover that the prisoner was you.” Let go of the pain. Give it to God.
    Praying for you and thanking God for you, Alfred.

  • S.A.M. says:

    I was raised with a mother who continuously told me how I was going to have a house full of babies and live on welfare. She had 7 children and there were times we had grits and gravy for dinner. We always shared bathroom and kitchen privileges with other families and had rats and roaches to contend with. My mother would also tell me no man would ever want me; I was too fat (thinner than my skinny sister) and too independent. When my 15 year old sister told our mother she was pregnant, our mother told her she would support her decision whatever she decided to do. I felt a little bit of pride in my mother at that moment, but as soon as my sister was out of earshot she looked ant me and said if I ever got pregnant she would put me in a home for bad girls. I think it would be easier if I were not the only one of her 7 children she seemed to hate. I also think my mother encouraged my siblings to treat me as something beneath them. As an adult I found myself continuously trying to appease my mother; and the rest of my family, I guess. I was the single parent of 2 children, yet my mother and siblings were constantly borrowing money from me. Needless to say, none of them ever repaid me. The time came that I decided I would begin to say no when someone wanted to borrow. I heard from them less then, but I still tried to keep in touch. Whenever some family member was in the town I lived in, they would drop by rather than paying for a hotel. Shortly after their visits some other family member would be unable to refrain from calling me to tell me what ugliness the visitor had to say about me. The calls weren’t just following visits either. I spent a lot of time crying and nursing hurt feelings. It was like they thought I was this unfeeling thing.
    Though I always had good jobs, there were a few times when things got a little tough, yet I never asked for help. However, there were times things were exceptionally great and I just wanted to share my good news with my mother or my sister. I learned that immediately follwing these conversations they would get on the phone together and talk about how I called them up “bragging”. I just wanted to share my good feelings with my family. I kept trying. It finaly hit home when I was awarded a great deal of money as compensation for saving my company millions. I arranged to take some time off; invited my mother for a visit. I just needed her to tell me when I should send her flight information for. I waited and waited and finally I called her. She said she couldn’t make it. Yet, she visited my sister who lived in the same state I lived in. That was the last time I let my family hurt me. There’s a lot more to my story, but; my father died and all I felt was guilt for not caring. When my mother died, I didn’t even feel the guilt. I cried like a baby when my dog died and I still get teary eyed when I think of him. I think the only people I’ve ever been able to love is my children and my dog.
    My family is having another reunion soon and kind of bugging me to attend. I’m not going to. Everytime I get involved with any of them, I end up regretting it.

  • B. Miller Brenda says:

    Joana, I am glad you enjoyed the article; I also found it very informative.

    Arg, one aspect of empathy when considering child molesters is that many of them are repeating patterns of behaviour that were carried out on them, and they detest their own actions. The fact that one behaves in a particular manner does not necessarily mean that a person desires to continue that behaviour. I believe Paul testifies to this in Romans 7 when he says the following:

    “15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” [vv. 15-20, NKJV]

    Fortunately, there is a Solution to our behaviour, and that Solution is Jesus: “24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” [Romans 7:24-25, NKJV]

    He is the answer for all of us who sin, including pedophiles and those of us who have difficulty with forgiveness, for failure to forgive is also a sin for which we need the Lord’s forgiveness.

    Thank you for your comments. Each and every one is appreciated!

  • arg says:

    “The goal is to promote empathy and forgiveness and look more realistically at the hurtful events from their point of view. This involves thinking the best of people rather than jumping to harsh conclusions about their character or intentions.”

    So what point of view of a child molester should the victim know about?

  • joana says:

    very enlightening…
    thanks for creating this website :)

Leave a Reply