Learning how to forgive can be so hard.
It’s hard enough to forgive someone who has wounded you in some way, but what about the one who keeps on hurting you?
Whether it’s a friend, a family member, or a coworker, sometimes we get caught in a vicious cycle of hurt.
And in that hurt, you may retreat, close off and become hardened - shutting the door to forgiveness altogether.
I say this from a place of experience.
I tend to internalize my hurts, making it harder to get them out in the open and process.
So when a hurt keeps happening, my tendency is to shrink back and run from the healing process of forgiveness.
It’s hard to open your heart to forgiving another when you are so desperately trying to protect it.
I want to remind you of the dangers of unforgiveness.
Unforgiveness gives Satan a foothold.
When we hold onto our pain, anger, bitterness or sorrow caused by another, we create an environment that invites Satan in.
Building walls makes us feel safe and protected. But the same walls we build to try and keep out the hurt also shut out the power of Christ’s love and redemption.
It’s not easy to walk through the process of forgiveness. And it’s especially not easy when you suspect that you will be hurt again. But don’t become discouraged.
God is working in your heart and in your life. He is working to bring you freedom and healing.
When you are stuck in that cycle of hurt and unsure of how to forgive, I want to encourage you to do these three things.
1. Surrender it to God daily
Pain doesn’t typically just disappear. It is something that will ebb and flow as we work through our struggles and work towards healing.
Forgiving someone does not mean that you are no longer allowed to feel the hurt.
I struggled for years with the lie that if I was still hurting, I couldn’t forgive.
Forgiveness means that you are surrendering that hurt to the Lord and releasing your hold on that person’s life. In that release, you will find freedom.
But freedom is a process and it won’t happen right away.
As you wait for the Lord to transform your heart, you must work to surrender your hurt to Him daily.
One of the greatest ways to do this is through prayer.
I began a prayer journal where I wrote out a prayer of surrender and forgiveness. And no matter how I was feeling, I offered those words to the Lord every day.
Sometimes, I had to begin my prayers with, “Lord, I don’t want to forgive and I don’t feel like forgiving…”
It is in those times that we must obey our call to forgive others.
When you struggle with forgiving someone who has hurt you and who may still be hurting you in some way, find a way to offer it up to the Lord daily.
I've created Forgiveness Prayer Cards as a resource to help you walk through this process.
The Lord will hear your prayer and you will find healing and transformation.
2. Set Healthy Boundaries
Forgiving someone does not mean releasing them from the responsibility of their actions. And learning how to forgive does not mean putting yourself in harm's way.
Setting boundaries is so important when you are in a relationship or a situation that continues to hurt you.
As you approach relationships that are caught in the cycle of hurt, consider what it will take to keep your heart on the Lord.
Sometimes we can stretch ourselves and offer up more. But other times we need to take time to focus on our own healing and relationship with Christ.
What will it take to guard your heart?
Limited vulnerability? Limited time spent with the person? No time with the person?
It will be different for each person and for each situation. And your situation may change and adapt as you find healing and peace in Christ.
I encourage you to prayerfully consider what healthy boundaries are needed to guard your heart and mind in Christ.
3. Speak truth into your life
We can get so easily sucked into the painful parts of our life. And Satan takes this as an opportunity to snag your heart and offer you lies.
As you process your hurt, it is essential to fill your mind with truth.
When you do this, the light of Christ shines against all lies that have ebbed their way into your heart.
There have been so many times that Scripture or an encouraging word of truth has revealed to me the unforgiveness in my heart.
There are two ways that I suggest filling your mind and heart with truth.
First, reading Scripture is essential to knowing truth. I’ve included a Scripture reading plan below that focuses on the area of forgiveness. In this resource you will find 6 Scriptures and a step-by-step meditation for each one.
I encourage you to work through these Scriptures as a way to begin to process forgiveness.
The second way to keep your heart and mind filled with truth is to find accountability. Invite a friend into your hurt, find a mentor to encourage you or seek help with a counselor.
Oftentimes when we are hurting, it is hard to see which way is up and out.
Filling your heart and mind with truth will allow you the accountability you need to keep walking in the light.
As you walk through the process of forgiveness, God will meet you. He will guide you and teach you how to forgive.
When you surrender your pain to Him daily, set healthy boundaries and speak truth into your life, you will find your heart begins to heal and you will discover the freedom that Christ offers in forgiveness.
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Here's what's inside: Scripture meditations, healthy boundaries worksheet and prayer cards for the forgiveness process.