Forgiveness – What it is & What it is not

Most people struggle with forgiveness.  I know I have.  Depending on the level of relationship, the depth of the injury, or the amount of loss, I have struggled deeply for years on some fronts.

This one thing I have learned: forgiveness is key to healing in every way.  OK, so how do we get there?

Usually the reasons people struggle are due to wrong beliefs about forgiveness.  We don’t always understand it.  After all, how could I forgive deep betrayal?  Does that mean that now it somehow doesn’t matter?  It matters!  So help me out here, God!

What Forgiveness is Not:

  • Forgiveness is not condoning or minimizing what happened or saying it doesn’t matter
  • Forgiveness is not a blanket statement of approval of what someone did
  • It is not excusing or justifying or covering up what someone did – usually a trip wire because the other person was treated badly as a child, for instance
  • It is not forgetting what happened – it doesn’t erase memory!
  • Forgiveness and reconciliation are not always the same thing
  • It is not saying you trust the person again – new boundaries may be needed
  • It is not denying what they did or denying the feelings of hurt, pain, or anger you may have – it’s not pretending we are now suddenly OK
  • Forgiveness is not saying the sin is unpunishable, but rather that Jesus has taken the punishment on Himself for ALL our sins and hurts against each other

What Forgiveness is:

  • Forgiveness is a choice, a decision – not a feeling, at least at first, but an act of the will – we recognize the need to forgive and make a decision to do it
  • Forgiveness is being aware of what someone has done and still forgiving them
  • It means granting a person mercy they don’t deserve
  • It means freedom from the bondage of holding something against a person
  • It means giving up our desire for revenge and punishment, releasing the person from judgment
  • It is refusing to tell others about what happened and what they did – it’s being gracious when even what you could say is true – a rare act of grace!
  • It means choosing to keep no records of wrong doing – not mulling it over
  • It is letting go of bitterness and resentment so we can receive God’s healing for what has happened  – it truly is a key to receiving healing!
  • It is taking a person off your hook, and putting them onto God’s hook for Him to deal with them in the best way
  • Forgiveness is knowing that what has happened is not the bottom line
  • Forgiveness is an inner condition – an act of the heart – Jesus said to forgive from our hearts those who have hurt us – If Jesus had waited until His enemies felt guilt for their words or actions before He forgave them, He would never have been able to forgive most of them
  • It is extending to someone the same mercy I have received from the Lord for my wrong doing
  • Confidence toward God is ultimately what total forgiveness is all about; He is the one I want to please at the end of the day – Forgiveness is about my relationship with God and keeping that in right standing

Jesus makes it pretty plain that if we are not willing to forgive, He is unable to forgive us.  In Matthew 6:12 (AMP) He says, “Forgive us our sins as we also have forgiven (left, let go, have given up resentment against) those who have sinned against us.”

So these lists and scriptures have helped me, but with some people and some circumstances, it has taken me years to work through a process of forgiveness.  Just recently, the Lord asked me to give him a certain time period of my life as an offering.

There was a 3 year period from 2003-2006 when I lived in a travel trailer because of being manipulated out of my home.  With now 5 years between that time and the present, I’ve had lots of opportunity to work through what happened and how I felt about it.  Forgiveness was terribly hard for I lost much – everything I called home, my relationships with my children, my closest family and friends and more.

One thing I didn’t realize was that there was some left over pain and bitterness deep inside.  With a need for home being so dear to me, when I would think about it, the Lord would warn me not to complain.  About 2 weeks ago, the Lord asked me to offer this time to Him as an offering.  At first I could not see how this would in any way resemble an offering, right?  Because we give our best to God, right?  So what is this, Lord?  How is this something good to give You?  He asked again.  So I said to Him, “If you want these years I spent in that travel trailer as an offering, You can have it.  I offer it to You.”

Immediately I felt a piercing in my spirit and inside a moment, bitterness and pain started to be released, like it was leaking out of me.  That offering, that response of giving to Him what He asked for, made it possible to be healed of such rancid stuff still held inside – that I didn’t know I was carrying around – that I have felt amazing healing come into me to replace what was still there.  This healing took place over several days and now my only emotion is of thanks and amazement!  What I was unaware of, God was certain of and could see the need and provide the solution.  I will not think of those days in the same way ever again – they have now become an offering, something beautiful because He asked for it and in His hands, all things become as new.  The enemy now has no hold on that time of my life because of God’s leading me to give it to Him.

What are you holding onto?  Where do you feel pain as you read this simple blog?  If you are not aware of any unforgiveness, would you be willing to ask the Lord to reveal it to you so that you might be healed as well? Take another look at the lists above and ask the Lord to help you make a forgiveness list.

And I’d love to hear your story.  In the telling of the story is much healing, so feel free to offer yours here.  Jesus and a friend will listen and He promises to help you through to healing.

Prayer of Forgiveness:

When you are ready, you may use a prayer like this one to forgive those who have hurt you.  Don’t feel pressured if you are not ready.  Ask God and He will help you get there.

Thank you, Jesus, for dying that I might be forgiven.  By an act of my will I now choose to forgive those who have hurt me.  (Quietly speak out the names of those to be forgiven.)

I release each and every one of these people into the freedom of my forgiveness.  Father, I am trusting You for the healing I need.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

(c) Sept. 2011, Robin Lawrimore

6 thoughts on “Forgiveness – What it is & What it is not

  1. Karen Eubanks

    Thank you for sharing this Robin! As you know I’ve been struggling with forgiveness and am just now starting to release it into God’s hands. It is a process, but a process so well worth it as I can see God’s hand touch my life & heart as I begin to heal from the hurts & as I begin to forgive! It’s a renewal of your whole being.


  2. Vivecia Coomer

    The church would be a different church, the world would be a different world ,if we could truly learn to forgive. Thanks for tackling this crucial issue. Please follow up about forgiving God & self.


  3. Julius Nagy


    Very touching! Thanks for writing this! In my journey, it was forgiving myself that was the single most liberating moment, the moment when all of the clutter and resentment and anger washed away. The light had been turned on once again! I was back on my previous path, using my gifts to build a better life and a better world…and I will be on this path until I am called to meet with Him. I often tell people that I have walked the floor of hell…with all of the pressure that I allowed myself to be under. Shedding all of that self-imposed torture has allowed me to reconnect with the Father in an amazing way! I have come to believe that we are here on Earth to do three things, the same three things that Jesus came here to do: serve, forgive, and love!



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