Tag Archives: forgive

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.

Forgiveness, Boundaries and Family

How to Forgive Your Family

How to Forgive Your Family

Forgiveness with family members is tricky business. It involves a good understanding of how to set boundaries. Today I answer three questions that are related to forgiveness, boundaries and family.

Q: I have struggled with the “what happens now” after forgiveness has been given.  I would love to hear your perspective on how to let-go of an unhealthy relationship (sibling, etc.) in a way that still honors God.

A: With family members the ties and history give you more reason to work at reunion after forgiveness. But don’t let that coerce you either. Don’t feel obligated to get back together or spend every holiday together, etc. Give yourself permission to set boundaries that create distance between you and your family. Just because they are family doesn’t give them immediate access to your space. They must earn that right like anyone else.

Be careful not to let family members pressure you to live up to their expectations. I’m amazed at how often  people allow their parents to dictate their lives well into adulthood.  You can set boundaries respectfully. Your family might resent the boundaries, especially if they aren’t used to them. But don’t let them intimidate you.

We honor God by respecting our own personal space that he wants us to have (versus being overwhelmed by unhealthy people) and communicating boundaries in a firm and respectful manner. Don’t use boundaries to punish. Don’t be cruel. But be firm and consistent.

Q: What if my child is on a self-destructive path? I want to help him but not enable him. But I can’t stand the thought of him dying because no one intervened.

A:  You can follow the teaching of Jesus who tells us to do three things; one, go to the person. Two, bring others to confront with you. Three, tell it to the church. In other words, you keep increasing the intensity of the confrontation in hopes of them changing their lives.  Speak directly to them but don’t nag. That only shuts them down.

You can perform an intervention with family and friends. This is what causes many people to “see the light”. You can even call the police if you think they are in danger of harming themselves. But ultimately it is up to them. You can’t solve their problems for them as much as you’d like to.  Unfortunately death is a real possibility. You need to come to terms with that reality just like parents do who send their children off to war.

Q: Is everything forgivable? Affairs?

A: Everything is forgivable, even affairs. But some people don’t want to be forgiven. Or some people want to work it both ways. They want the marriage but they don’t want to change their behavior or ask forgiveness. 

Forgiveness is free. Trust is earned.

Refer back (in earlier posts) to what I said about forgiveness not meaning trust. Forgiveness is free. Trust is earned. You can forgive an affair but not trust someone until they rebuild your trust. And forgiveness doesn’t mean that you stay together. Forgiveness is simply giving up the right to get even.

Question: What questions do you have about forgiveness, family and boundaries? Leave them in the comment section below. Please share this post on Facebook, etc. if you found it helpful.

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How to BE Forgiven – Three Ways to Rebuild Trust

 How to Be forgiven: Three ways to Rebuild Trust

Rebuild the Bridge of Trust

I’m walking through how to make an effective apology in order to restore a broken relationship. We are imagining that I have betrayed you, my reader, and asking; What do you need from me to set things right?  Today I’m looking at how to rebuild trust.

Here are four things I bet you want to see. You want me to:

  1. Admit the Offense
  2. Express Sorrow
  3. Ask for forgiveness
  4. Rebuild Trust
Track back to read the posts on each of these points. 

Here are three more ideas on how to rebuild trust:

  • Ask your friend what they need to for you to rebuild trust. In bridge terms, ask them what kind of bridge they need for you to build; a rope bridge, a covered bridge or a super structure with lights and video cameras. It’s important to agree on the bridge that needs building. It should be fair to both people.

Some people ask for a super structure when only a rope bridge is necessary. They are hurt and unreasonable. Others ask for a super structure with no intention of ever crossing the bridge. They just want to punish you. And some act like trust is no big deal but they are in denial. They are afraid to admit that trust needs rebuilding. So before you launch into a ten-year reconstruction project make sure you both sign off on the project.

  • Follow through on what you committed to do. Up to now it’s been all words. If you don’t follow through then your words are a joke and they will make things worse for you.
  • Give your friend the time and space they need to trust you again without insisting on it and trying to intimidate or guilt them into it.

At some point in time the bridge of trust will be built. At that time the responsibility shifts from you to your friend. They will have to decide if they are willing to walk across the bridge and resume the intimacy of your relationship. But you are fully at their mercy. Sometimes people choose not to cross the bridge out of hurt, anger or fear. You should know that and be mentally prepared for that otherwise you will put too much pressure on them.

Now, the temptation on all four of these points is to cut corners. Like I’ve said, people rarely understand the depth of how much hurt they caused and so they are quick to pick up with the relationship before trust has been built. But if you really want to restore the relationship…you generally need to do more not less.

This all takes great amounts of humility, patience and self-control. But here’s the good news. God wants to give you whatever you need to make things right. So just keep talking to God and asking him for help to rebuild trust. He will give you what you need.

Reconciliation is worth it. Do what it takes. Spend the time and the energy. You’ll be glad you did.

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Question: What do YOU need people to do to rebuild your trust? Leave your comment below.