Woman finding it difficult to forgive and forget

As Christian women, God expects us to forgive when our spouses or people around us hurt us. No matter the offense, He wants us to put our pride (and our hurt!) aside, humble ourselves, and forgive that person. But how do you truly forgive? How do you forgive and forget when someone hurts you deeply?

As women, we often dwell on feelings, especially negative ones. God gifted us with emotions. It’s a daily choice to live in them or overcome them, not a one-off decision (I wish it was!).

Our emotions can overtake us if we don’t control them. Betrayal, disappointment, abandonment, and insults can deeply hurt us and cause negative emotions to engulf us. The heart pain we feel is a real pain: emotional pain is a psychological pain that comes from non-physical sources.

No matter how upset we are and no matter who hurts us, we can choose to forgive. Jesus forgave anyone who harmed Him. We can do the same. How can we let go of painful feelings and truly forgive and forget someone?

Which is harder to forgive or to forget?

First, let’s check the difference between forgiving and forgetting. Pardoning means we release someone from our anger and our desire to punish them. We don’t hold against them for what they did but turn our backs against the offense. Forgetting, on the other hand, means we don’t recall what happened and won’t dig up the past.

We women have a bad habit of frying our husband’s sin for breakfast while we forgave them the night before. We become naggers if we don’t stop digging up past offenses. This is not new. Proverbs, which was written over two thousand years ago, has many references to nagging wives, and none of it is positive.

“It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.”

Proverbs 21:9 (NLT)

Women are more likely to nag, largely because we are conditioned to feel more responsible for managing home and family life. We also are more sensitive to early signs of problems in a relationship. This is, however, not an excuse to nag.

What comes first?

Both to forgive and to forget someone who hurt us are deliberate choices, and both are difficult to do. There is, however, a difference in the degree of difficulty. When we truly forgive someone, our minds may still throw memories of the hurtful incident. Our thoughts then again dwell on the unpleasant incident, causing us to shoot into a spiral of negative emotions because hurt feelings come from hurt thoughts.

Dealing with our thoughts takes more effort than dealing with forgiveness. We can forgive even if we don’t feel it because we do that out of obedience to God. It is after we forgive someone that the Holy Spirit will do the rest and heal our hearts and our hurt feelings. We should then throw away each thought that links to the pain until we go on autopilot and don’t remember it anymore, without conscious effort.

Forgiving takes only one step, but forgetting takes time and continuous effort. To forget the harm someone did to us takes more effort than to forgive someone.

Why is it hard for me to forgive?

If forgiving somebody is supposed to be easy, then why is it so difficult for me to do it? Two key factors are at play: pride and stubbornness.

  • We are proud. We don’t want to humble ourselves, but prefer to appear strong.
  • We are stubborn. We don’t want to take the first step, but expect the offender to apologize first.

Other reasons could play a role too:

  • We haven’t fully accepted God’s forgiveness for ourselves. If we haven’t received forgiveness, it is difficult to extend forgiveness to others. We can’t give to others what we don’t have.
  • We indulge ourselves in getting attention from others. People around us are considerate of us when we are broken. We fear this care and sympathy will stop when we forgive and move on. After all, we think, then we can stand by ourselves and people won’t give us the same support we enjoyed when we were hurt.
  • We have obtained a lot of pain already. When we get hurt over and over, we can feel so much pain and defeat that our attitude changes. We are tired of getting hurt and forgiving others. We don’t want to forgive anymore because we believe we have got enough and don’t want to engage in the process of forgiving anymore.
  • We don’t see ourselves as worthy. We think inferior about ourselves and believe we don’t deserve to be treated well. It becomes part of our lives to expect to get hurt by other people. Forgiveness is not a consideration anymore, because we have accepted getting damaged all the time.
  •  We have accepted the pain. When we accept pain, we don’t see it as something bad anymore. It becomes normal. So why should we forgive?
  • We feel pity for ourselves. Our self-pity causes us to be occupied with ourselves. We dwell on our sorrows, leaving no space for hope.
  • We believe it is normal to keep a grudge. We don’t forgive simply because we think it is human to keep resentment.
  • We don’t feel forgiveness in our hearts. We think we should first feel forgiveness in our hearts before we extend that forgiveness to the one who hurt us. The truth is, in most cases, we first need to forgive and will then get healed.

Why is it so hard to forgive someone you love?

In life, we can get hurt by anyone, simply because we don’t live in a perfect world. The question is not whether we will get offended or harmed, but when. Neither will it happen only once in a lifetime.

We consciously experience our first emotional hurt at a very early age, as toddlers, and continue facing it till we leave this broken world. It is only when we are finally with Jesus that there will be no more crying, no more pain (Revelation 21:4).

We can get scared at any point in time and in any place. Just think of a common trip to the supermarket where we get into contact with other customers and supermarket staff. Or when we interact with colleagues and bosses at our workplaces. All these moments of human contact bear the possibility of us getting hurt. It is up to us to take offense or let it go.

However, when it is somebody we love, it is a different issue. Why? Because we build love over time by building a relationship with someone and sharing our life and intimacies with them. Hence, when someone we love hurts us, disappoints us, betrays us, or leaves us, we get deeply hurt. It is the depth of love we’ve built up for that person that causes the depth of pain we get when the one we love harms us.

The overwhelming pain we experience can make it difficult for us to forgive the one we love. We feel deeply betrayed, and betrayal is a powerful feeling. If someone in the supermarket hurts us, it won’t feel like a betrayal. We only feel betrayed if the relationship was intimate.

It is this feeling of betrayal which makes it difficult to forgive someone you love. Difficult. Not impossible.

Why is it important to forgive and forget?

We hurt ourselves (and others) when we don’t forgive and forget. It can even cost us a relationship that would have been good otherwise. Unforgiveness can also harm future relationships because we have trust issues and harbor bitterness in our hearts. Without an open mind and a free heart, it is difficult to build a relationship after getting hurt.

If we can bring ourselves to forgive and forget, we are likely to enjoy a lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system, and a drop in the stress hormones circulating in our blood, studies suggest. Back pain, stomach problems, and headaches may disappear as well. Interestingly, God’s Word already shows that: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength” (proverbs 17:22-NLT). If we don’t forgive and don’t forget, there wouldn’t be joy in our hearts.

Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy, and compassion for the one who hurt us. It brings a kind of peace that helps us go on with our lives.

Forgiveness heals us; it is not directed to the other person even though he or she may benefit from our forgiveness.

Forgetting about the issue helps us not to feel the pain again.

It is therefore important to forgive and forget.

What does it mean to forgive and not forget?

If we forgive but do not forget, our memory will keep traces of the pain. Our mind continues to bombard us with memories of the hurtful incident, sparking our negative feelings to appear. If we don’t forget, we would enter a spiral of hurt feelings and negativity.

Trying to forget without first forgiving is an impossible task. Our pain and hurt feelings will not allow our minds to forget what happened. Our hearts and minds will continually and negatively influence each other.

If we want to live with peace in our hearts and minds, we should forgive and forget.

How do you truly forgive and forget?

To forgive and forget means to decide not to continue being angry about something that someone has done, and not to allow our memory of it to influence our future relationships. It is vital for our personal well-being and for our future relations. But how do you forgive and forget when someone hurts you?

Here are seven steps to truly forgive and forget when someone hurts you:

Step 1: Humble yourself and confess to God. Ask Him for forgiveness for anything you did.

Step 2: Tell God what happened and how painful it is. It is important to tell Him exactly how you feel. Admit that the pain is holding you back from thinking about anything else and that you want to be free.

Step 3: Tell God you release that person from your feelings of hurt, pain, anger, and desire to get even. Say aloud you forgive XXX (mention the name).

Step 4: Ask God to forgive the one who hurt you. It is important you don’t skip this step.

Step 5: Submit your heart and mind to God and ask Him to help you forget the incident and everything around it. Ask the Holy Spirit to be a guard around your thoughts.

Step 6: Pray for your offender. The bible says we should pray for our enemies. When someone we love hurts us, they often turn into our enemies.

Step 7: Whenever your mind travels toward the past offense, call it back and focus on God. Remember the forgiveness you gave that person.

“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.”

Isaiah 43:25 (NLT)

Let’s Pray

Thank You, Lord, for Your forgiveness. Thank You for not holding my sins against me. I am sorry for everything I did. Please forgive me.

I am hurt, Lord. Deeply hurt. I can’t stand the pain. But no matter the pain I feel, I choose to forgive. I release him/her from my anger, pain, and unforgiveness. Please, Lord, forgive him/her as well.

I surrender fully to You. Fill my heart and mind with Your Spirit. Help me forget what happened and guard my heart and thoughts. Thank You for helping me and teaching me how to forgive someone who hurts me. Thank You.

I pray for XXX. Regardless of what he/she did, I wish him/her well. Please bless him/her.

Help me remember the forgiveness. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.