How to Forgive

The DTS student who wrote about forgiveness referenced specific “steps” she followed that helped her finally begin moving past some deep hurts in her life. We wanted to share those steps with you, too.

How have you experienced the freedom that comes with forgiveness?

A few simple truths about Forgiveness

  • Forgiveness is for YOUR sake. Holding on to resentments is more hurtful to you than anyone else. It keeps you from living fully.
  • Forgiving is NOT forgetting or condoning. “Because I can’t forget I can’t forgive” is an excuse and not true. Forgiving is simply a decision not to dwell on the hurt. It is a decision that may need to be made repeatedly, for as often as necessary. Jesus said to forgive “seventy times seven times” and “Forgive us as we forgive….”
  • Forgiveness is, believe it or not, 100% your responsibility. You DO NOT need the other person to admit that they were wrong. Waiting until they admit wrong keeps YOU stuck in the past.

Steps of Forgiveness

  1. Write down the name of the person you need to forgive.
  2. Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of every instance in which this person hurt you. It’s OK to acknowledge how hurt you are, and even the hatred you may feel toward this person for what they have done. Be brave and decide you will face that pain, rather than attempting to escape from it. Hiding from the pain and holding onto the hurt causes an infection in our lives. And just like a physical wound can only heal by opening it up and draining it, the same is true for relational wounds.
  3. Take your piece of paper and write: “I forgive ____________ (fill in the person’s name) for _______________ (write it all down – every instance that the Holy Spirit reminds you of) and it made me feel __________________.” Write as much as you need to.
  4. Make a decision to forgive. Say it out loud, “I forgive _____________ for __________.” Spoken words have great power. Take as long as you need to, and be real.
  5. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand the other person. What is their point of view? How do they feel? Why did they do what they did? What have their life experiences been that have made them vulnerable to such temptation and wrongdoing? This doesn’t excuse their actions, but it helps you feel God’s compassion for them.
  6. Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of something positive about this person. He may show you many things. Spend some time thanking God for the positive aspects of this person and any positive actions they may have taken toward you.
  7. Pray that God will bless them and be near them and do special things in their lives.
  8. Destroy the list of their offenses (burn it, tear it into shreds…) and make a decision that you won’t hold these offenses against them anymore.
  9. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you if there was anything you did wrong to this person. If so, ask His forgiveness for these actions. And make a plan to talk to that person and ask for forgiveness for what you did to them. Ask the Holy Spirit for the best way to do this. When you talk to them, make no mention of anything they did wrong to you.
  10. Whether the other person ever changes, keep on willing love and goodness to them, and praying the best for them.
  11. Forgiveness removes the pain of offense from our hearts. Sometimes, you need to speak out forgiveness many times before the pain is gone and your heart is restored. If the pain returns, choose to forgive again. Each time that you forgive peels back another layer of the hurt that came into your life. You should expect that when forgiveness is complete, you will no longer remember the event with pain (although you will still remember it).