Here's Why You Should Forgive . . . and 3 Surprising Reasons You Shouldn't Forget

For years, this little sign hung in my counseling office, The Nest.  A badly broken heart stitched together.  The scar remains as a reminder of at least one dreadful, soul-searing experience.

Somewhere along the painful journey, choices have been made to get repaired, to begin to heal, to move ahead.

To forgive.

In my role as a pastoral counselor, I've talked to many hundreds of men and women over the years.  And I think it's safe to say that between 90% - 95% of those who have sat with me, tissues in hand, are there because there's a forgiveness issue in some way, shape, or form in their lives.

It's hardly ever the 'presenting problem.'  The need to forgive is often disguised by a myriad of family problems, relationship challenges, church upheavals, or workplace issues.  Anger, depression, anxiety, or addictive behaviors are usually in the mix.  Bitter roots have taken up what looks to be permanent residence.  And in the process, the emotions, attitudes, personality, and health of a precious soul have taken a huge hit, slowly transforming the person into someone they never dreamed they'd become.

It's not until the conversation goes much deeper that the root of all the turmoil clearly comes into view.  Someone besides Jesus Christ sits on the throne of their broken hearts, calling the shots, directing the traffic, running the show.  And the only way to unseat that unwelcome, destructive usurper is to make the seemingly impossible choice to forgive.

The sad fact is that until we release those who have run roughshod over us and done us wrong, they will own us, lock, stock, and barrel, with an ugly stranglehold that refuses to be undone.  We will remain dreadfully stuck, mired in the quicksand of the unfortunate past.  Until we can send our perpetrators packing and move ahead with our own lives without constantly looking back and wringing our hands over what was, we will live as powerless victims.


The one who wounded you along the way may not deserve forgiveness.  And might not even grasp that he needs it.  Or could care less about asking for it.  Chances are they've moved on and forgotten that they were offensive or hurtful or just plain destructive.  But if we want to move ahead and live life to the fullest, forgiveness is a pivotal step that's simply non-negotiable.

I'm thinking we make forgiveness way harder than it needs to be.  It seems cumbersome, impossible ... and somehow so wrong.

But it turns out that forgiveness can be as simple as this ⟹  

Finally telling the Lord, 'I'm done hauling this pain around.  You take it.  I wish my perpetrator well.'

Yes.  That simple.

It doesn't demand justice or explanations or apologies or wrongs to be made right.  It doesn't require more tear-laden conversations or 180 degree turns.

You may have to ask God to do this for you, in you, through you.  Repeatedly.  That's ok.  He knows the purposes of your heart.

I choose to wish you well.


This is different than reconciliation.  A re-knitting of minds and hearts, a rebuilding of relationship.  That's another story.  And it's lovely when that happens.

But often that isn't the case.  The hurt has been too severe, the pain has lingered far too long, the relationship was toxic or abusive or some such thing that should not be pursued or rekindled.

But you can still wish the person well.  In your heart, in prayer with the Lord.

For He's the One who's not going to abuse you, betray you, abandon you, exclude you, wound your battered soul.

He never leaves, He doesn't forsake, He doesn't change like shifting shadows.

He gets it.  He offered forgiveness on the cross.


And yes, remembering isn't a bad thing.  For in doing so ...

1.  We become wiser in our future choices of companions, in what we pursue, in what we deem important.

2.  We acknowledge that we are prone to err, to wound others with our self-absorbed pride, careless words, and harmful actions.

3.  We become students of grace and are quicker to ask for forgiveness and not just mumble a quick 'sorry' when we've sinned against another.


Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
- Colossians 3:12 - 13

And by the way, the hardest person you might have to forgive is yourself.  For your own sinful choices, stupid decisions, or somehow betraying what you valued and held dear.  Take it from a forgiven forgiver.  Because in the end, it was the least I could do to honor the One who had forgiven me for so much ...

Carter & Minirth

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