“Without forgiveness, there’s no future” - Desmond Tutu

We must forgive the people who’ve hurt us and it has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not they deserve forgiveness. They most likely don’t deserve forgiveness, but we don’t deserve it either.

So if forgiveness isn’t necessarily deserved then why do humans pursue vendettas across the generations, encourage future generations to fight one another with a goal of stamping each other out, bankrupt themselves defeating their perceived enemies and sow salt into the earth so nothing will grow in their land, etc ? Because carrying a grudge like this and continually acting on it keeps us rooted in the past, and if we are living in the past, we’re controlled by it. In fact we are defeated by it because we can’t visit our future. Our lack of forgiveness controls us by forcing you to relive the pain over and over and over again in a never-ending pathological cycle.

The Bible says, “Surely resentment destroys the fool, and jealousy kills the simple” (Job 5:2 NLT).

Because it’s not hurt that destroys relationships, it’s an unwillingness to forgive, and the continued revisiting of the pain or grudge. It distracts you from moving on and being better than you could be. Let’s face it, we’re human and we are going to hurt each other both intentionally and unintentionally. When you let go of revenge thinking and offer forgiveness pain can be overcome and we can move on for the better.

Now I am not saying forgive and forget. It is a good idea to take that event and use it as a learning tool and not be pulled back into a situation that is simply not healthy. Forgive, but move on. A relationship recovering from hurt and experiencing forgiveness does not resume without change. Biblical teaching points to three things that are crucial to resuming a relationship that has been broken: repentance, restitution, and reforming trust which may take a very long time depending upon the transgression. Forgiveness isn’t forgetting what’s happened it is refocusing on something else.

If you are the transgressor you have responsibility. You must be genuinely repentant about what you did. A fast mumbling of a half-hearted “I’m sorry” doesn’t work. Instead it means heartfelt and meaningfully saying, “I messed up, forgive me please.” Guess what? You may have to make restitution or pay back the damage in some way. Forgiveness can be a one way street but healing is a two way highway.

Steps to Forgiveness

First, dismiss the idea of getting even. God will take care of it. Remember that age old saying, “What goes around, comes around?”. It is absolutely true and this is why we should always live by the Golden Rule.

Second, your response to evil is not to return it with evil. You’ve completely forgiven someone when you can pray for God to bless him or her. The Bible says we should overcome evil with good, praying for those who hurt us (Matthew 5:44).

Third, repeat these steps as long as necessary. Forgiveness is rarely a one-time shot. When somebody hurts you, we tend to think about it over and over and over. Each time you catch yourself engaging in destructive self-chatter make a conscious decision to move your mind and thoughts away from anger to something much more positive. Eventually it will be very easy to move immediately from a rotten thought to one of acceptance and forgiveness.

Fourth, remember the Biblical teaching, “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. We are Christ’s ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, “Be reconciled to God!” (2 Corinthians 5:19-20).

Author's Bio: 

Theodore Henderson is a professional speaker and business person. However, he is not a speaker who uses “canned” presentations, but one who speaks from personal experience, business know-how, and from his heart on issues that resonate with a wide audience. He coaches using universal themes of financial education, faith, perseverance and self development.

Despite 20 plus years in sales and sales management in Fortune 500 companies, when it comes to public and professional speaking, he proudly considers himself first and foremost a Communicator and Entrepreneur.

He is a winner of Toastmaster International Speech Competitions and currently holds advanced Toastmasters certifications in speaking and leadership. He also conducts training and workshops in Business Planning and Personal Financial issues.

Theodore is an MBA graduate with concentrations in Finance and Information Systems and has consistently applied that knowledge throughout his career in technology and information systems. In addition to being certified as an instructor with the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship. He is the team leader for the Riverside Church Youth Entrepreneurial Development Program (RYED) in New York.