Category Archives: anger

Why Can’t I Forgive? – the secret to forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of the most spiritual acts you can do. Nothing makes you more like God than when you forgive. But a question I often get is: “Why can’t I forgive? I tried and it didn’t work.”

Why Can’t I Forgive?

There are many reasons why forgiveness doesn’t “work.” As I’ve said in other posts, and in my book STUCK, we often have a wrong conception of what forgiveness is. Forgiveness isn’t forgetting, excusing, trusting, reunion, conditional, or a feeling.

Another reason we can’t forgive is we try to do it on our own. We don’t include God in the process…and it IS a process. Again, I outline this process in my book STUCK. From admitting your anger, to grieving your loss, to reframing your offender, and more, God needs to be a part of every step. It’s a great lesson in prayer, asking God to help you with each step.

Why Can’t I Forgive? The Secret to Forgiveness

But there is a simple mistake many people make that prevents them from ever forgiving: they put their focus on what THEY are trying to do (forgive) and not what GOD wants to do in them.

Let me explain. The average forgiver knows they need to forgive to honor God and move on with their life. But the problem is, they are so hurt, when they think of forgiving their offender, all they can do is think about how they were offended. They barely make it out of the gate before they get thrown off their game.

Look at the wedge in this circle. The wedge represents the loss in your life. This is what was taken from you. Most people want their offender to put back what they took. In some rare cases they might be able to do that. But even then, there is still the hurt that they did it in the first place.

In most cases your offender either doesn’t want to restore what they took or they are unable to. Yet you keep expecting something from them: restoration, repentance, humility, a sincere apology, etc. That’s probably not going to happen, and so it just makes it really hard to forgive them.

Instead, what you need to do is bring your loss to God. Rather than focusing on your offender and what you want from them, ask God to fill up your loss. Ask HIM to restore you. This might sound simplistic, but it is the secret to your being able to forgive and move on.

You see, as long as you feel the loss, you will suffer lack. You will be deficient, and deficient people aren’t forgivers. Forgiveness is a generous act and generosity comes out of the overflow of your life. You will never overflow with forgiveness by focusing on your loss or your offender. But if you ask God to fill up your losses, he will do that and more. Then you will be able to offer forgiveness and move on with your life.

Why Can’t I Forgive? God’s fullness is the answer.

The apostle Paul prayed that we might be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19). That’s what it takes to forgive others. And when you are filled to God’s fullness, Paul says that God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

The truth is, you CAN forgive. You just need to put your focus in the right place.

Are You STUCK in Anger? Audio Book

I’m happy to announce that my book, STUCKhow to overcome anger and reclaim your life, is now out in audio format.


Now available in audiobook format

SPECIAL OFFER: This audiobook is available as a free download with a special offer from You can check it out here, as well as listen to a free sample of the reading.

Why get a book on anger? Because everyone has anger. But few know how to deal with it.

Anger is something people like to ignore. When it happens, they think it will never return. But sure enough, it does.

Anger often has more control over us than we have over it.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can overcome your anger. Better yet, if you understand your anger, you can use it to find your emotional weak spots and get the help you need.

Don’t give away any more of your life to anger. STUCK will help you overcome it. Learn more here. 



The Making of a Hard Heart

An analogy came to me yesterday when I was teaching in the treatment center about anger. It struck me how we develop a hard heart. I’d like to share it with you.

There are three ways to express our anger:

  • We blow up.
  • We clam up.
  • Or, we let out our anger in a controlled release.

In my book, STUCK, I compared it to shaking a pop can and an aerosol spray can. The pop can will explode and make a mess when the pressure is released. This is what typically happens when we let our anger fly. But an aerosol can provides a steady, controlled release. The user has full control the entire time. You may not believe it, but you can have the same kind of control over your anger. It doesn’t have to control you.

The shaken pop can can stay unopened, but the pressure remains. The same is true for us. We can hold in our anger but it doesn’t go away. Most people are under the false impression that if they keep quiet and hold their tongue for a few days that their anger will magically disappear. It doesn’t. It stays in your heart.

The Making of a Hard Heart

Now, here’s the diagram that I drew. I drew a heart and then drew horizontal lines from the bottom to the top. I told my clients that every time they hold in their anger they lay down a layer of anger. Layer after layer. Year after year.hard heart

I live in western Wisconsin. There are many exposed cliffs. You can see what happens after years and years of sedimentation. Layer after layer was laid down, compressed and turned to rock. That’s what happens to your heart if you don’t deal with your anger. You grow a hard heart.

The sad thing is, a hard heart happens so slowly that you don’t even know it’s happening. But people around you do.  They try to talk to you but you push them away, tell them they are crazy, or it’s no big deal. You think you’ll get over it and move on. But you don’t. You just lay down another layer of anger. And your heart grows harder.

If you don’t watch out, your heart will turn to rock and then you’ll start losing people in your life; your spouse, your kids, your friends. Everyone. You might lose your job. You might even lose God…not that he walks away, but you walk away from Him. This happens more with men than women. Men seem to be more comfortable shutting down like this. They die alone. 

The sad thing is, a hard heart happens so slowly that you don’t even know it’s happening.

So, what’s the answer to a hard heart? What keeps this from happening?  Deal with your anger. Confront the pain. Grieve the losses that got you mad in the first place. Talk to the people who caused the losses. Talk to God about the losses. Learn to forgive. I talk about all of these things in STUCK and throughout this blog.

I hope you’ll take a look in the mirror and take action before your anger gives you a hard heart. Things get harder then.


Can you forgive and still feel anger?

Can you forgive and still feel anger? I was on a call-in radio program the other day and a couple still feel angerpeople seemed confused about their situation. They thought they had forgiven their offender but were still angry. It made them doubt their forgiveness for the person.

My answer was: don’t be so quick to assume you haven’t forgiven them. It depends upon where you direct your anger. If you direct it toward just the loss you incurred, then yes: you can forgive and still feel anger.

Why You Might Still Feel Anger

Whenever you lose something or someone, one of the emotions that accompanies that loss is anger. It’s natural. You can’t help it. It would be abnormal to not be angry.  

The key to dealing with anger isn’t so much in whether you get angry or not but in how long you allow it to remain with you and how you process your anger.

The key to dealing with anger isn’t so much in whether you get angry or not but in how long you allow it to remain with you and how you process the anger.

Anger is a natural part of the grieving process. Until you move past the loss, you will still have it even though you have chosen to not get back at your offender (which is one definition of forgiveness). The feeling of anger comes from not being able to control your loss. Someone died. You got fired. You got dumped in a relationship. You have no control over these things. You are powerless and it makes you mad. But you can still forgive by refusing to get even.

Anger Toward Your Offender Leads to Retaliation

On the other hand, if you still feel anger toward your offender after an extended period, I would say, no, you can’t forgive and still be angry. Being angry at your offender is a form of retaliation and that is the opposite of forgiveness. Your anger drives you to even the score and you can’t rest until you do.  You waste years getting back at someone, even if it’s just wishing them harm in your mind.

I hope this brings some clarity to a common concern. If you’ve given up the right to get even with your offender, that’s forgiveness. If your loss still hurts, that’s a normal emotion that will exist as long as you feel the loss. As you come to accept the loss and move on with your life, the anger will slowly dissipate.

The trick to moving on with your life is to stop looking to your offender to restore what they took from you and solve all your problems. You will continue to feel anger if you look for that because you will continually be faced with a loss.

Turn your attention from them and to God. Ask God to restore what was lost and to make you whole again. Your life may never be the SAME, but it can still be full and fruitful if God fills you back up.

I discuss issues of anger, loss, grief, and forgiveness in my book STUCKhow to overcome your anger and reclaim your life – available in paperback, Kindle or audiobook. Click the link to read samples or listen to a portion of the audiobook.


Forgiving Murder – The Ann Grosmaire Shooting

I watched a segment on the TODAY show yesterday that was both shocking and refreshing. It reported on Andy and Kate Grosmaire forgiving murder – their son-in-law (Conor McBride) shot and killed their daughter, Ann.forgiving murder

You can read the full story in a New York Times article published yesterday.  Instead of sending the young man through the court system the parents sat down with Conor and a judge and worked out an agreement.

They requested a maximum of fifteen years in prison. They said they didn’t want his life to be defined by this one tragic moment any more than they wanted their daughter’s life to be defined by this moment either.

The judge decided to give him twenty years. The parents requested that half of those years would be served outside of prison helping causes that their daughter believed in. An amazing story.

Forgiving Murder

I want to comment on a few other statements that the parents made that give insight into forgiveness:

  • Ann did not die immediately.  She was able to speak to her parents before she died. She told her father: Jesus and I want you to forgive him.  The parents felt that their forgiveness was a divine calling and because God was calling them to do it, he was also offering them the power to do it.  Kate said that she didn’t know if she was capable of forgiveness, but You don’t know what you are capable of doing until you are in the moment.
  • Andy said, If I didn’t forgive him I’d go right with him to prison.  That was an interesting statement because I just posted a quote of mine recently saying,Some offenses are unforgettable, but no offense is unforgivable. To not forgive is to lock yourself in a cell with your offender forever.” Andy understood this. He didn’t want to be dragged into that cell of unforgiveness.
  • I also appreciate the insight that Andy showed when he said, We didn’t pardon him. We forgave him.  In my book, STUCK…how to overcome your anger and reclaim your life, I talk about Five Things that Forgiveness is Not.  One thing that forgiveness is not is excusing (or pardoning). Forgiveness means giving up the right to get even. It doesn’t mean you let the person off the hook.  Too often people don’t want to forgive because they don’t want to send the wrong message. But in this story there is both forgiveness and justice. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

We see stories like this in the news every so often. Nine times out of ten they are about people who are followers of Jesus who want to live out his words and follow his example.  It’s nice to see this because so often the news stories are about a person doing something crazy or hurtful in God’s name.

Question: Forgiving murder seems impossible. What would be the hardest thing for you if your child asked you to forgive their murderer? Leave your comment below.


Buy STUCK and get Three Free Books

We did it. We got my new book, STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships, out before Christmas!

Stuck broken relationships

Click Image

I’m pretty excited about this book. The early reviews are great! As I was writing the book I felt like people were going to get some very practical help by reading it. The first reviews seem to prove that’s true. There’s nothing more rewarding than to hear that back from people. It makes all those late nights of writing and rewriting worth it.

One reviewer wrote: STUCK… can be summed up in one word–brilliant…I have read books on anger and forgiveness written by famous theologians and pastors of mega churches, and though they have been helpful in their own right, this particular one hit home for me like no other has. read full review 

No One Likes Getting STUCK

I think we all know what it’s like to be stuck in a broken relationship. It can be with anyone: your spouse, your child, a co-worker, a friend, or your parents. It’s frustrating. You feel boxed in with no way out.  Nothing changes. No matter what you do things just seem to get worse. Ugh. You either walk away or resign yourself to a terminally bad relationship. Neither option is good.

If you are STUCK in a relationship or if you know someone who is, I hope you will consider getting this book. It’s not a magic pill. Any broken relationship takes work. But STUCK is a guidebook to show you the way through the chaos.

SPECIAL OFFER: This week only

If you purchase STUCK by Christmas EVE, Cross Point Publishing will send you downloads to these three books:

  1. Kindle or epub version of STUCK ($5.99 value).
  2. Kindle or epub version of Healing the Hurts of Your Past ($5.99 value)
  3. Links to the four-hour audio book (Mp3) version of my seminar, How to Release Your Anger…for Good! ($25 value). This seminar is only available through this offer.  I personally narrated this seminar. It serves as the basis for the book, STUCK.

Total Value: $36.98. To get these three free books simply forward the email confirmation of your purchase to Valid with either the Kindle or Paperback version of STUCK. Expires: 12/24/12.

Join My Marketing Team

The truth is, I have no marketing team. I’m it. And I’m a little busy pastoring a church. So I’m shamelessly asking you to help me out. If you would do ANY of the following I would really appreciate it:

  1. Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, etc. by clicking links below.
  2. LIKE the STUCK page on Amazon. Click the LIKE button at the top of the page.
  3. LIKE my Facebook Page and any Facebook post you see of mine.
  4. Recommend my books to your church bookstore. For bulk sales click here.
  5. Buy the book for yourself and friends.
  6. Post a review on Amazon.
  7. Post your review on Facebook and/or your blog.
  8. Ask your church to post a link to my books on a resource  web page.
  9. Invite me to speak at your church, business, or community event.
  10. Go door to door selling books!  (Okay, so that might be a little much.)

That’s it. I hope you get the book and enjoy reading it!


Free Book, STUCK, for Your Amazon Review

Regular readers know that I’m two weeks out from releasing my new book: STUCKhow to mend and move on from broken relationshipsbroken relationships

Here’s a time limited offer for a free book. I need ten people to review STUCK and post a review on BEFORE the book goes on sale on December 18. If you agree to do that, I’ll send you a free pdf copy of the book AND send you the Kindle version for free once the review is posted.

Here’s a description from the back cover:

We’ve all been stuck:

  • stuck in traffic,
  • stuck in the mud,
  • stuck in the middle…

But getting stuck in a broken relationship is one of the worst places to be stuck.  It leaves you hurt and confused: not knowing what to do next.

If that’s where you find yourself today, then STUCK may be the very thing to help you get unstuck. F. Remy Diederich provides his readers with practical, spiritual insight into the problem of relational breakdowns.  He offers helpful analysis of the role of anger in your conflict and then carefully suggests approaches, often step-by-step, to help you navigate the process of restoring broken relationships.

F. Remy Diederich’s writing is rich in biblical thought and counsel but not simplistic in its application or blind to the realities of human weakness.  Issues of anger, grief, boundaries, and forgiveness are carefully looked at from a spiritual perspective. While encouraging reconciliation the author is also aware that reconciliation is not always possible and offers alternatives. Because of STUCK’s helpful “how-to” nature you will want to highlight key thoughts and return to them again and again.

If you are “stuck” in a broken relationship, do yourself a favor and read this book. It could be just the thing you need to help you get unstuck and move on with your life.

FREE BOOK OFFER: If you think you can read  STUCK in the next ten days and will actually post a review, I’ll send you a free copy today. Email me  at and tell me why I can count on you to post a review (it doesn’t have to be positive).  Once you post the review I will send you a free Kindle version to the book. Thanks.