Why You Need to Forgive Those Who Hurt You

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There are 5 reasons why you need to forgive those who hurt you. Not an easy task, right? If you are like me, forgiveness doesn’t come naturally. It takes work.

Personally, I used to like to think about offenses done to me about a thousand times and wallow in the past until I am drowning.

Unfortunately, I didn’t know this particular coping mechanism was wrong. I thought since it was happening in my thoughts, I was good because it was contained. No one was getting hurt or so I thought…

It wasn’t until I got sick (really sick) that I realized replaying a scene over and over in my head was another form of unforgiveness. And it was hurting me, my family, and those who came into contact with me.

In this post, I am going to give you five reasons why you should forgive, and then show you how to forgive and let go of the past.

Related: Self Pity: 4 Ways to Keep Wallowing

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How to Forgive Those Who Hurt You

 

5 Reasons Why You Need to Forgive Those Who Hurt You

You may wonder why we forgive those who hurt us. There are several reasons, and they are good ones. Here are the following reasons:

1. Forgiveness is required by God

God requires us to forgive those who wrong us. Unforgiveness is a sin, plain and simple. I always found this commandment to be pretty straight forward.

What I didn’t realize is forgiveness is not just an outward act, but it includes all internal feelings too.

This is where I stumbled…my thought-life. I continued to obsess on my pain and lived as a hurt person. My hurts were like a blanket. Think Linus. It was a part of me; I couldn’t let it go.

God convicted me of my internal sin a few years ago. I wasn’t fooling anyone.

He showed me I needed to forgive internally as well as externally.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22 | NIV).

Related: Can God Use a Horrible Failure or Loss?

 

2. God won’t forgive us.

God won’t forgive us if we don’t forgive others. This seems harsh, but if you want to be forgiven by God, then forgive others no matter how bad the offense.

Unfortunately, there are no exceptions written in the Bible. God knows it may take a while to forgive some things, but if you keep working on it, one day it will be put behind you.

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14 | NIV). 

Related: The Fruit of Discipline: Is the Pain Worth It?

 

3. Forgiveness is for Yourself

Forgiveness is for yourself. In Matthew 18:23-35, it talks about the wicked servant being turned over to the torturers because he wouldn’t forgive. I can relate to this all too well.

I lived with unforgiveness for so long that I became blind to its presence. It was just a part of my being. It colored my actions and altered my behavior.

Eventually, the pain became so great it starting affecting my health. It poisoned me. I was tortured. My sickness (Crohn’s disease) became a living hell.

Sadly, I could not get control of it because I was constantly angry.

It wasn’t until I started forgiving those who hurt me that I started to heal not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually.

Beth Moore says, Forgiveness doesn’t make the situation OK, it makes you OK.

Related: How to Deal with Your Family Rift

Not forgiving is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die quote with a blue bottle of poison on a table.

4. Forgiveness Releases Others

When you forgive those who hurt you, it releases the other person to God. It means you trust Him to mete out justice in His way and in His time.

There is a court of law for crimes committed, but in the end, you still need to release it to your Heavenly Father.

Your offender may be off the hook with you, but he is not off the hook with God.

Romans 12:19 ” Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

Related: 3 Things You Lose When Your Family Starts Talking

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How to Forgive Those Who Hurt You

How to Forgive Those Who Hurt You

You may wonder how to forgive those who hurt you. It is not easy, but it can be done if you work at it. Practicing forgiveness daily is a struggle even for the strongest of Christians. Here are some suggestions:

1. Confess.

Confess your unforgiveness to God, and ask for His forgiveness.

Everything in your sin nature wants to rebel, hate, and hold onto grudges. You will need the Holy Spirit to help you do something so unnatural.

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy” Proverbs 28:13 | NIV

 

2. Stop.

Choose to stop thinking about the offense. I have a picture of an actual stop sign in my head when I notice the “bad tape” playing reruns.

If I still can’t stop it, I play songs about God. I love Hillsong Worship/United. It gets my mind off of me and on to Him.

 

3. Talk

Talk to a counselor, pastor, or godly friend who can help you process your anger and bitterness if you are stuck. It is much easier to release the pain once you have unscrambled all the feelings.

You can also talk to an empty chair or write a letter to the person. This will help you get all your anger out. Tear up the letter once you are done. 

Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart book

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3. Renew

Renew your thinking. Start telling yourself the truth. God’s word is true. You can always count on this one thing. Make notecards or memorize verses that reinforce who you are in Christ.

You may not believe the scriptures at first. Just keep saying them every day. One day it will start to click and become truth. Your goal is to start a new “tape” in your head to replace the old one.

Philippians 4: 8 tells us what we should be thinking about in our minds. It says to think on things that are true, noble, pure, just, and good.

 

4. Release

Release it. Let go of your past. It is gone. You can never get back what you lost. No matter what you do to get even, it will never be enough. Even jail or the death penalty will not make the pain go away.

Visualize yourself laying all the pain down at the cross, and then running to Jesus as a child runs to his daddy. See yourself in His arms holding you, maybe even cradling you if you are really wounded.

If you will open your heart, God will pour His love all over you and make you better instead of bitter.

Related: How to Not Lose Faith: 7 People Who Were One Hot Mess

 

5. Pray

Pray for your offender. I know. I can hear you hollering from here. It is amazing what happens when you start praying for the person who has hurt you. 

This one act will help you to forgive easier.

Pray for God to bless the person and his family. Ask God to help you love this person even if he seems unlovable.

While you are at it…pray for God to convict you of any wrongdoings. You may actually be at fault too. 

Related: How to Have Positive Self-Talk Using Scripture

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How to Forgive Those Who Hurt YouHow to Let Go of the Past

How do you let go of the past?  You choose to do it. Forgiveness is a choice.

It is that simple. But it is the hardest thing to do. Every time a horrible hurt comes to mind, no matter how bad the situation, you make a conscious effort to let it go.

More importantly, you let go of every word and action others have done to you, and decide to move forward with a clean slate. This doesn’t mean you go back to abusive behavior, live in denial, or erase your mind of the offense somehow.

It is that you choose not to remember. This is what God does with us (Jer 31:34). He knows what we have done, yet he chooses not to remember our sin anymore when we ask for forgiveness.

You may think your offender does not deserve this gift, but, truthfully, you don’t deserve the same gift either.

Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

 

Forgiveness Checklist

Here is a forgiveness checklist. Ask yourself these questions. If you say “yes” to any of them then keep working.

  1. Do you feel angry every time you think of _______?
  2. Do you have a secret desire for _______  to pay for his offense?
  3. Can you pray for ________ without resentment?
  4. Do you tell everyone how _______ hurt you?
  5. Do you talk negatively about ________ when his/her name comes up?

It takes time to forgive those who have wronged you. It is not a “one-and-done” kind of thing. Forgiveness is a process. Sometimes a long process. But it is worth it.

 

Modeling Forgiveness with You Kids

It is important to model forgiveness with your kids.

If you see your kids are unforgiving, chances are they learned it from you or their father. You may never have said anything, but your actions showed them all they needed to know.

You may need to do some reteaching. If your kids are little, get some books on forgiveness. Start reading and talking about it with them in a non-confrontational way.

If your kids are older, start talking about why we should forgive those who hurt us. You can bring up your failures, and how God convicted you to change. You can tell them what you are doing to fix it.

Failures are a great teaching tool! Don’t let your pride keep you from talking openly.

Related: The Best Parenting Tips You Will Ever Find

I hope you will choose to forgive those who hurt you and let go of the past. It will set you and your family free.

How do you forgive others for wrongs done to you?

 

Book on Family Estrangement From a Christian Point of View

Are you experiencing family problems? Perhaps you and a loved one are no longer speaking. Don’t go another day without reading this book. It addresses family problems and estrangement from a biblical point of view. Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart is on Amazon or in your favorite digital store. 

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Get Creating Family Memories for FREE in exchange for your email. If you get this book, it will help you build a good relationship with your kids so that when the hard times come (teen years), you will be able to weather the storm.

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Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Parenting and Family. This is a place for moms with preschool age kids or older to talk about their struggles with parenting, family life, education, or marriage. You will find biblically based advise from other moms who want to raise godly kids.

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Julie Plagens

30 Comments

  1. Jennifer Dodrill on May 1, 2019 at 12:53 pm

    Forgiveness is hard, but so worth it. Thanks for a wonderful reminder. It’s something I’ve been dealing with lately and that release is truly a great feeling!

    • Julie Plagens on July 6, 2019 at 12:05 pm

      I agree! It is a weakness of mine, but I really work hard to release things. Otherwise it eats at me. Thanks for your comments.

  2. Yaa Attobrah on April 18, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    I so love your candor in sharing. Yes, there are so many deep wounds we carry from our family relationships. I so relate because up until recently, even though I thought I was okay, I had to rise up and confront the issues. Family dynamics are an interesting thing, not so great when you are at the receiving end of dishonour and disrespect; treated like you don’t matter, others are more important or more special than you are. Who God says I am did not line up with these lies, so I had face it and deal with it. It is still a work in progress but I am so grateful that I got real with God about it. Thank you for sharing

    • Julie Plagens on April 21, 2019 at 7:55 pm

      Yaa, I am so glad you stopped telling yourself lies. This is something I am really working on. Satan is the accuser, and we fall for it hook, line, and sinker. He’s been using these same tricks since Eve, and we haven’t caught on! You do matter. God loves you. Stand on that. Thanks for your comment. Prayers for you.

  3. Erin @ LullabyLark.com on April 18, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    Forgiveness is so powerful! For me, it’s all about entrusting myself to God. When I do that, I know that I am loved and treasured by him, so I don’t have to worry about the little slights from others.

    • Julie Plagens on April 21, 2019 at 7:57 pm

      Erin, yes, I keep going back to forgiveness every day. It is the only way to live a full life. I also don’t put myself in the crosshairs of those who do not respect my boundaries. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Faith Zazueta on April 18, 2019 at 8:08 am

    What a good word. That part where you have to forgive internally as well as externally…were you reading my spiritual mail ? Ha ha! This reminds me it’s time for some self examination.

    • Julie Plagens on April 21, 2019 at 7:58 pm

      Faith, what a wonderful name! Yes, forgiveness is internal as well as external. It is really about the heart. And God knows, doesn’t He? I thought I was fooling Him. Not so much! Thanks for your comment.

  5. DONNA MILLER on March 29, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    This is so good Julie. I also coped with it by keeping it to myself in my thoughts and my heart, thinking it wasn’t hurting anyone. But harboring unforgiveness made me bitter and those closest to me were always affected in one way or another. Forgiveness was for me more than for the other person. Thank you so much for your beautiful post! ❤

    • Julie Plagens on March 29, 2019 at 6:04 pm

      Donna, I am so glad you have been able to release the anger and hurt. Wallowing in the pain does feel good, but eventually, it comes back to bite us. I don’t think we realize how many people it affects when we harbor unforgiveness. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  6. Brandi Michelle on March 27, 2019 at 11:12 am

    It’s easy to think that once you decide to forgive that nothing else needs to be done. In some cases we must learn to forgive the same offense each day. Forgiveness is a process that really requires God help.

    • Julie Plagens on March 29, 2019 at 6:01 pm

      Brandi, you are so right. We make a choice, sometimes daily, to forgive those who have hurt us. Otherwise, we can fall into bitterness. Thanks for your comment.

  7. Amy @ Orison Orchards on February 15, 2019 at 10:00 pm

    You are so right, forgiveness truly is for ourselves! My cute grandma always says, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” This is a beautiful and timely reminder for me.

    • Julie Plagens on March 16, 2019 at 11:39 am

      Yes, I put that quote in this post! Forgiveness is better than harboring bitterness and wallowing in self-pity.

  8. Colleen on February 15, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    What’s interesting is that a lot of these tips also apply to forgiving ourselves. I especially like the tip to picture an actual stop sign instead of continuing down the rabbit hole!

    • Julie Plagens on March 16, 2019 at 11:41 am

      Colleen, I think we can be very hard on ourselves when we mess up. I went from taking all the blame to not taking any blame. I think we have to own our stuff and then forgive everyone, including ourselves.

  9. Charissa on February 15, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    You make some great points about forgiveness! I always find that when I don’t want to pray about a person or issue, it’s because I know I’m holding a grudge and need to forgive. Praying about it always makes it that much clearer (which is probably why I don’t want to do it haha).

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      I know. It is hard to pray for someone who has hurt you. That is always the litmus test for me. If I can’t pray, then I know I need to do more forgiving. It isn’t easy forgiving and letting go of the past but it is worth it. Thanks for reading.

  10. Ashley on February 15, 2019 at 12:08 pm

    Thanks for this great reminder about forgiveness. I often find myself saying I have forgiven someone but still holding that grudge, which doesn’t feel good. Letting go and actually forgiving someone feels so freeing!

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 5:03 pm

      Ashley, holding a grudge actually takes a lot of work, doesn’t it? It is much more freeing to let go of the past and forgive those who have hurt you. I am glad you are watching yourself to make sure you keep working until the forgiveness is in full.

  11. Patricia G. on February 12, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    Your post is such a great reminder of why we need to forgive those who have hurt us! I, too, used to have a really difficult time forgiving others, especially in replaying the bad tapes in my mind and holding anger over and over again against them. There were several periods of time in my life where I held unforgiveness for several years, and I then I wondered why I wasn’t really growing in my faith. When I finally let go of that anger and bitterness and forgave, as God had commanded me, in many cases the broken relationship was better than before the hurt ever occurred!

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 5:08 pm

      That is a really neat testimony. I hate those bad tapes. I am sorry you have them too. They are just garbage. It is amazing how something so quiet like bitterness and anger can get out of control. It is important to forgive those who have hurt us for our own benefit. We can let go of the past and move on even if we don’t go back to a destructive relationship.

  12. Jenna on February 11, 2019 at 11:38 pm

    Thank you for reminding us about the importance of forgiveness. And I liked that you mentioned teaching our children how to forgive as well. Such an important healthy thing to learn. ❤️

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 5:11 pm

      Jenna, oh my goodness. It is amazing what our kids pick up from us. It is hard when you see a reflection of yourself walking around every day. You hope it is good, but those little things like unforgiveness can slip in and eat at the soul…of everyone. Thank goodness we can forgive those who have hurt us and let go of the past.

  13. Haddie Lyons on February 11, 2019 at 11:59 am

    I once heard that bitterness is like a poison you drink hoping your enemies will get sick. (Or something like that.) It is so true that it can have real impact on your physical and mental health. Thank you for this post!

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 5:15 pm

      Ha ha! Yes, I know. That saying is in this post. Unforgiveness is like poison. It only hurts us when we hold on to the past and don’t forgive those who have hurt us. I am glad God gives us second, third, and fourth chances to forgive others so we don’t poison ourselves.

  14. Shubhanjalee on February 11, 2019 at 10:37 am

    extacly,,you are very right..thanks for relating that we should forgive as learnt from the almighty

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 5:18 pm

      Shubhanjalee, it is important to forgive those who have hurt us and let go of the past. When we don’t, we hurt ourselves. The other person doesn’t even know when we wallow in pain most of the time. They can’t possibly fix all the pain either. We have to release the person and move on. “I’m sorry” is a nice bonus though.

  15. Haley on February 10, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    Such a good reminder to forgive because God forgives us. Prayer is usually the last thing I want to do when someone has offended me but I know it can help release me from carrying the weight of the hurt. God is so good in that way.

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 5:21 pm

      So true. Our sin is much greater than anything we have done here on earth. Jesus forgave us, so we must forgive others. Not doing this goes against everything the Bible says. Forgiveness is for us. It helps us to move on with our lives and live freely. Thank the Lord we can forgive others and let go of the past.

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