When Forgiving is Hard


I struggle with forgiveness. There I said it. Am I the only one? There are situations in my life that are still painful and raw and I’m just not ready to forgive. Yes, I’m aware that forgiveness brings peace and happiness but I can’t force it to happen. How do I make this easier? At that, how can I possibly teach forgiveness to my children, when I’m struggling with it currently. I want my kids to learn forgiveness. I want them to know what it means to show love, compassion, empathy and ultimately to be able to forgive for the gift of peace in their lives even in the most unforgivable situations.  I don’t want them to know a life of holding grudges or hanging onto resentment and pain.

I was recently presented with the opportunity to attend a workshop called “Freedom and Grace through Forgiveness and Receiving.” It was put on by a good friend and when she contacted me about the workshop I thought, “Absolutely! I totally need this!”

Two things struck me hard during this workshop. The first was one of her questions, “Do you feel hostile toward the whole idea of forgiveness?” “Um, yes.” I raise my hand. But then I recant, “Wait! I don’t feel hostile toward the whole idea of forgiveness. I feel hostile toward the idea of forgiving certain unforgivable people! That’s not the same right?!”… It is. 
The second was at the very end of our meditation when she was going over the process of accepting and allowing forgiveness to fill the hole made by anger and despair, I could not connect. Now I am honestly a fairly forgiving person, but showing forgiveness and grace to someone who I truly believe doesn’t deserve it is a hard pill to swallow. was really struggling with this and feeling bad about myself for not being able to break down those walls and allow myself to forgive when she said one final phrase, “If you aren’t ready to forgive say to yourself, I forgive myself for not being ready to forgive.” Wow. That hit home. 

 “I forgive myself for not being ready to forgive.” Isn’t this just as important?

You see, forgiveness is a journey. There’s anger, pain, resentment, denial, indifference etc. You have to find love, healing, acceptance, and acknowledgement to eventually find forgiveness. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in God’s word listening intently to hear God’s voice on this issue. Forgiveness is the ultimate action as a follower of Christ. How, though, does one forgive those that in every sense of the word DO NOT deserve it? This is what Christ does for us… but I’m just not there yet and that’s okay. I work on it daily and some days are a lot easier than others. There are steps forward and steps back, and that’s okay too. In my specific case it’s trying to find peace and forgiveness in a situation that is continuous and ongoing. The exhaustion that comes with that can be very daunting. However, I’ve decided that I can teach my kids just as much about perseverance and about the journey to forgiveness as I can about forgiveness itself. It was nice to hear that it’s okay that I’m not ready. That it’s okay that I still need to work through some things before I can say, “I forgive you.” My children can watch me pursue healing, acceptance and acknowledgement. They can watch me demonstrate forgiveness in the daily, ordinary things when mistakes are made, towards the people I love and come in contact with everyday. I can verbalize my ability to forgive these smaller issues even if I am not yet able to forgive something more unforgivable.

It’s a hard ride but don’t beat yourself up about it. Find your peace inside the storm and along the journey. You are not alone. Don’t forget to fill your own tank, find your own peace, and be present in your own life so that you are demonstrating the tools your kids need to work through these harder and more complicated lessons in life.