7 Steps to Forgiveness
1. Name the offense as clearly as possible. It’s hard for us to forgive something that isn’t clear to us.
2. Find someone trustworthy and non-judgmental to listen to your story. Having someone listen and understand is a powerful part of healing. Journaling prayers to God, crying with a trusted friend, or seeking help from a qualified counselor are all effective.
3. Let yourself feel the pain. We all want to skip this part. Even Jesus prayed to the Father asking to skip the cross (Matthew 26:39). Yet the pain Jesus endured because of our sin was part of God’s plan. Often, we’d prefer to be angry because it hurts less. However, forgiveness requires allowing ourselves to feel and express the pain caused by others’ actions.
4. Know that some of your feelings will be ugly.
5. Make an honest assessment of your reaction to the harm done to you. Often our reactions are as sinful as the offense against us. This awareness will help you keep a realistic perspective as you wade through your feelings.
6. Decide whether you want to confront the offender. The rule of thumb I use is simple. If it’s a relationship I want to preserve, I make the effort. If not, I let it go. We all have finite amounts of emotional energy. It isn’t wise to spend it in unprofitable places. Prayer will help clarify your decision.
7. Understand that human forgiveness takes time. Sometimes it takes years. Meanwhile, hold in mind your goal: to forgive and be forgiven. Jesus makes both steps possible.