08 May What Forgiveness IS NOT: five roadblocks on your path toward healing.

He walked in, furious. He sat down and started cursing, saying how evil she was, and that she would never change. It reminded me of how anger is portrayed in cartoons, when a person’s face goes red and steam comes out of their ears. After 15 minutes, he yells out, “I can NEVER forgive her for this!!”

When I asked what was keeping him from forgiving her, he said something very telling, “I can’t forgive because this hurts too much. The pain is so bad, I won’t ever be able to forget it happened.”
We live in a culture that is quick to suggest the old cliché “forgive and forget”, as if forgiveness can only come when we can forget what was done to us.

Forgiving and forgetting aren’t always one and the same. In fact, forgetting isn’t the end goal. Forgetting at times, can actually be a detriment to forgiving, because it can hijack the work we are doing to heal the wounds of our heart. Forgiveness leads us to this healing, and it doesn’t always lead to forgetting.

If we are going to forgive and do the work of healing the wounds of our heart, it is important to know what forgiveness is not.


1) Forgiveness IS NOT condoning or being ok with what has happened. 
Rather than letting the offender off the hook for what they have done, it actually gives you the freedom to name the offense and call it what it is.

2) Forgiveness IS NOT waiting for someone to apologize, or admit they were wrong.
Forgiveness doesn’t rely on the actions of the other, it is something that you must choose to work towards. If you’re waiting for a sincere apology, you might be waiting a long time.

3) Forgiveness IS NOT forgetting what happened.
Sometimes forgiveness is actually remembering. Healing doesn’t come when we work to forget, but it comes from working through the hurt, anger, brokenness, and possibly setting boundaries.

4) Forgiveness IS NOT eliminating the consequences or stopping justice. 
You might still need to call the police, CPS, etc. to make sure the offense is dealt with properly.

5) Forgiveness IS NOT reconciling or pretending it never happened.
While reconciling the relationship may be the path you choose to take, it is by no means a requirement of forgiveness. Forgiveness may be what finally releases you from the chains that have bound you to the one who hurt you.


1) Forgiveness is healing from the hurt and pain so it doesn’t fester and stifle our JOY.

For more on forgiveness check out:

The Book of Forgiving by Desmond and Mpho Tutu

Rising Strong by Brene Brown

Forgive and Forget by Lewis B Smedes 

No Comments

Post A Comment