How To Forgive The Person Who Hurt You

by Confession, Faith & Life, Family, Love and Relationships

Forgiveness is so hard, but why? Often, the desire for an eye for an eye overwhelms us, we want the person who hurt us to receive justice and be held accountable. But does holding on to the hurt and anger in fact accomplish our desire for justice?

Again and again, I see that when I choose not to forgive those who hurt me the only person I am hurting is myself. The truth is we live in an egocentric society and those I hold a grudge over don’t often even understand or know why.  Again, by withholding forgiveness I am only really hurting myself, I give into anger blocking my ability to experience gratitude and joy. I become hardened to the love of God and block his grace in my life. Scripture reminds us, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:12-13).

This video shares three resources to help you learn to forgive those who have hurt you:

How To Forgive Someone Who Hurt You

What is Christian Forgiveness: Forgiveness vs Reconciliation

We have to first define what forgiveness is. It is an act of the will.  It will require effort. It is not easy, you have to make a commitment right now to want to try.  As Saint John Paul II put it, “Forgiveness is above all a personal choice, a decision of the heart to go against the natural instinct to pay back evil with evil.” 

Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation which requires remorse and a commitment of change from the person you are reconciling with. Instead it is saying that you will no longer bring up the offense, or let it play around in your head.  It is releasing the desire to want to hurt them because they hurt you, and it is not a one time thing. As we learn new things about how the offense is hurting us we will have to go through the forgiveness process again. 

Again forgiveness does not mean continuing in a relationship that is abusive and enabling sinful choices.  You have to set new rules or boundaries and demand it will never happen again. It isn’t condoning the behavior or allowing unlimited access to you to do the same thing again. 

But I am So Angry….

Anger is not something we should act upon, but more a tool for helping us diagnose an underlying concern.  Anger is an indicator of a wound, and an invitation for deeper healing. Will you accept this invitation of healing and dig into what is the root concern?

Sometimes we can feel guilty if we cannot offer immediate, complete forgiveness from the heart or we don’t feel like forgiving. However, forgiveness from the heart can take a long time, even years, and cognitive forgiveness or just the mental desire to forgive is effective and sincere while we work through the healing to let the heart catch. Accepting where we are in our littleness, then trusting God and trying despite our weaknesses. For this to happen we need to grow in a deep understanding of our offender’s weakness and childhood. 

We can experience an increase in compassion through regularly bringing the experience to prayer and forgiving when the thoughts come to mind. In prayer we can recognize our powerlessness over anger and surrender it to God, praying “Lord take my anger” or “Lord forgive {my spouse, parent, other person}, for I can’t at this time” (Fitzgibbons, Habits for a Healthy Marriage: A Handbook for Catholic Couples).

Choosing to forgive, is choosing to trust God to be responsible for justice. When the hurt comes back up, we choose to give it back to God because it is his battle now. Our anger is often rooted in a desire for power and control. We desire to control how justice is served and reclaim power over those who hurt us, but at its root we are expressing a lack of trust in God and an ungodly self-reliance (Fearless and Free). 

We have to trust that God sees the injustice and weeps with us. Now he is asking, will you let Him fight for you? By surrendering the fight we can find true peace.  So when the anger surges and the hurt returns, we can say “I surrender to you this anger and pain, help me to love them better and allow you to be justice and mercy as you will.”

Also, our desire and pleasure in venting can block our desire to forgive. We build negative narratives, instead we must be willing to invite the Holy Spirit into the conversation. Looking for constructive solutions even when it seems impossible. These resources might be just what you need!

The 3 Best Forgiveness Resources

Here are three resources on forgiveness and why we love them! Seriously all of these have had incredible impacts in our own lives, and allowed for deep healing all are worth checking out. 

1. Fearless and Free: Experience Healing and Wholeness in Christ from Walking with Purpose by Lisa Brenninkmeyer

This 6 week Bible Study is based on the letter to Ephesians and invites you to experience wholeness and healing. A critical key to experiencing wholeness and healing is to forgive ourselves and those who have hurt us. 

Fearless and Free has a great script you can use when you need to reconcile a relationship, this is very helpful in families: “I am feeling _______, and the story I am making up is ______.” We have to take our thoughts captive and bring things to the light. If I let the story build within my mind, I am creating a damaging narrative that will require deeper healing than the original hurt. I have personally used this and loved to also phrase it as, “I need to confess to you the story I am creating that is hurting our relationship and the inner vows I have created in my effort for self protection. This action_____, made me feel ______ and resulted in me believing and creating these lies ______.” 

Another critical truth expressed in Fearless and Free is, “Hurt people hurt people.” When I look at those who have emotionally, physically and sexually abused me in this light, I can see their brokenness and I am moved not to hate them but to pray for them.  The truth is the wounds are very deep and have required years of healing work that will probably continue all of my life but I want them in Heaven with me. Leaning into these places is so important if we want to experience true wholeness. We have to heal our wounds or we will be too busy self-protecting to ever really love. Our brokenness can help us see the brokenness in the other and cause us to feel compassion. 

So has hard as it is to forgive, we can in time learn to be grateful for these offensives, for they are how God has willed for us to be sanctified and healed to grow in deeper communion with him. For he too has experienced deep betrayal, abuse, pain, and hurts, he understands you. 

2. Habits for a Healthy Marriage: A Handbook for Catholic Couples by Richard Fitzgibbons, M.D.

This is our next favorite resource for those wanting to reduce anger in their marriage and create an on-fire marriage that reaches new heights and practices forgiveness in the big hurts and little daily grinds experienced by living in close proximity. 

All families are derived from the family of tree of Adam and Eve. We are all fallen and even the best parents and relatives can cause wounds that we need to heal.  “Forgiveness involves uncovering anger from one’s family of origin, from past relationships, and from one’s marriage and then deciding to work on letting go of this anger without misdirecting it at one’s spouse, children or others. It also involves choosing to forgive immediately the person in the present who has aroused one’s anger” (Fitzgibbons, Habits for a Healthy Marriage).

When conflict arises and tempers fail, we are invited to immediately repeat to ourselves “I desire to forgive, I desire to understand.” This can help quickly defuse the situation as we transition back to being a team with our spouse and away from being opponents. When we assume the best of our spouse and work on communication we really can help repair the relationship before it hits a critical issue. Check out this video on How to Improve Communication in Marriage for more ideas.  

The failure to admit and to resolve anger through immediate forgiveness creates excessive tension, harms marital love and trust, and causes fear, mistrust, and sadness for children. To reclaim our marriages for Christ and experience the fullness God wants to give us we have to desire to implement immediate forgiveness and commit to healing past wounds. 

Always remember that neither spouse is 100% responsible for any mess, and I can only change my behavior. The goal is not to change my spouse, I can ask them to work with me to grow together but I must be willing to make the changes for myself first! 

I cannot focus on how my spouse needs to grow and change, I can ask them to commit to growth together, but foremost I must be willing to make the needed changes internally to transform our relationship. And that means learning to forgive, to try to understand the other, growing in compassion and gratitude. 

In addition to the daily and immediate forgiveness needed from living in close proximity with an imperfect person, that comes with different temperaments, biases, norms, expectations and cultural differences we also have to work through past wounds that we do project on to those closest to us. Dr. Fitzgibbons recommends, when something from your past comes up, take it to prayer, and image yourself as a child or teenage saying to your offender, “I want to understand your childhood with your parents and to forgive you for the hurts of the past.” By growing in compassionate awareness of their own wounds we can better offer mercy. 

Dr. Fitzgibbons goes through specific ways our family of origin patterns create repetitive and misdirected wounds, anger and other issues within marriage, and provides concrete ways to take what was good from your parents’ marriages and remove the unhealthy or toxic behaviors or wounds. A book worth reading!

3. Everybody Needs to Forgive Somebody: 12 Stories of Real People Who Discovered the Life-Changing Power of Grace by Dr. Allen Hunt.

Through twelve-real life stories, you are able to learn how to forgive and see the power and freedom provided. It reveals the depth that we all need to grow in the compassion and mercy of God. Dr. Hunt, highlights how fear can block our desire to forgive because we have grown comfortable in our wounds and are stubborn in our sinfulness. 

 Simply, this short and easy to read book shows the grace that God wishes to flood into your life and the way we block this power by our anger and resentment. Moving from self protection into charity for those who have truly hurt us, allows God to pour his love and forgiveness into his own life. 

More Catholic Marriage and Family Resources

Drew and Katie Taylor provide Catholic marriage resources utilizing their Masters in Marriage and Family Counseling and Masters in Theology. Make sure to subscribe to the Catholic-Link Youtube Channel for more and follow them at To The Heights Ministry!

Praying these forgiveness resources help you reach new heights!

Some of the links above are affiliate links, that at no cost to you provide a small percentage back to support these evangelization efforts.

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