3 Reasons Why Forgiveness is So Hard


A popular saying goes:  “I can forgive, but I can’t forget…”  That saying is usually uttered by people who are still resentful and who haven’t really forgiven.  They are not bad people, they want to forgive – and have probably really tried to forgive, but they just can’t seem to make it stick.  Why is that?

Here’s the reasons:

1. Forgiveness isn’t easy

It requires you to stretch your limits and move beyond your wounds, which is especially difficult if you are still hurting.  It requires you to love unconditionally – that means regardless of what another person does, you must still love them.

It also tests your limits of selfishness, it requires you to consider the feelings and perspective of another human being – that is something we are not accustomed to doing.  It requires us to stop viewing that person as an evil entity, but to instead see them for the human they are.  We are all flawed and on any given day, most of us are doing our best.  But everybody’s definition of “best” is not going to be the same.   Forgiveness requires us to have mercy on others even those who have wronged us.

2. Forgiveness is an ongoing project

It requires more than a one time commitment; it requires daily effort.  Every day there will be painful memories that will test you on this.  Have you ever been moving along through your day, just fine, but then out of the blue, you are confronted with a reminder: a song, a note, a memory – and then all of a sudden, you’re ready to curse the person?  At that moment, if you give in to the urge, that’s when you lose your forgiveness.  That’s when you have to stop and remind yourself to forgive again.

3.  Forgiveness requires you to let go of anger

Letting go of anger is very difficult.  Most of us have been taught to retaliate when others hurt us.  So we hold on to our anger out of spite because it provides the right fuel for revenge.  The problem with this, is that is not the Godly view of what we should be doing.  Jesus said, “turn the other cheek” when someone wrongs us – that means let them do what they are going to do without acting out in anger.  That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with being angry – Jesus got angry, but about the right things – when it came to people disrespecting God’s church, yes, He got angry, but He didn’t let it cause Him to sin.  He didn’t repay a wrong with another wrong.

The truth is, regardless of how hard it is to forgive, we are required to forgive if we expect to be forgiven of our own sins.  If we expect to receive mercy for the things we’ve done, we’ve got to be willing to pass it on to others.  It’s that simple.  Don’t forgive and you won’t be forgiven.  Fail to have mercy on others and you won’t receive any.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the sound of that.  I need God’s forgiveness; I need His mercy.

So what can you do, when you want to forgive, but can’t seem to?

Start with prayer

You’re probably thinking: that’s her answer to everything. I’m not ashamed to say that, IT IS!)  Ask God to help you deal properly with your emotions.  Ask God to help you see things the way He sees them.  Regardless of how you may feel about the person, God loves us all, including the person who hurt you.  Ask God for healing, peace, wisdom and strength – those are the tools that will help you hold on to your forgiveness.

Don’t Ruminate

Two weeks ago, I wrote, “Stop Ripping Off Old Scabs” – the title sounds gross, I know, but the post talked about what happens when we don’t allow ourselves to heal.  Most times it’s not that we aren’t capable of healing, it’s usually that we won’t let ourselves heal.  That happens when we allow ourselves to rehash events over and over again, when we continue to complain about them to others and allow ourselves to become bitter.

Don’t keep reliving the injury by allowing yourself to sit and mope about it all day.  You have the power to control your thinking patterns and change your thoughts.  Distract yourself with activities that will allow you to heal and rebuild.

Now, I’d like to hear from you.

If you’re struggling to forgive someone, why is it so hard for you?  If you’ve been able to forgive someone, what helped you do it?  Are there any other reasons why it might be hard to forgive someone?  What other tips could we add here that might help someone else keep their forgiveness?

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  1. Chantelle says:

    Wow! i really needed to hear #2! It is so obvious now, but I really got hung up on why I could not seem to hold up to my forgiveness. I would offer my forgiveness with sincerity, only to find that I had not really let go of the blame and anger the next day. But if I see it as a daily practice, that makes all the difference. Just as we are to die to self daily when trying to live godly and not give in to sin, we are also to die to self daily where forgiveness is concerned as well. Thanks so much for that clarification!


    Kiesha Reply:

    Hi Chantelle,
    I think #2 was my issue as well. I didn’t realize forgiveness could be lost until I attended a woman’s retreat. The woman who prayed with me told me that the trials I was experienced was threatening to make me lose my forgiveness. She prayed with me and told me the next time I felt that way to rebuke it in the name of Jesus. That’s how I learned to keep my forgiveness and any time I feel that way, I call on Jesus and He never fails me.


  2. Wow,you have a gift on you.That is very helpful to me, brokin down just right cause I got to tell I’m not the type to read a lot.


    Kiesha Reply:

    Thanks, Jamal!
    Glad you found it to be of help. Thanks for stopping by.


  3. Yes LORD!!! I have the same issue. I’ve had a few family members and coworkers that have hurt me. I’ve been praying and asking the lord to help me forgive. It’s just been so busy with the negative rounds. But, I know the lord will send me strength and see me through. I just need to constantly pray and let God do his work. I believe everything happens for a reason.


    Kiesha Reply:

    Hi Erica,
    Yes, continue to believe that everything does happen for a reason. In time you will find out the reason, and you’ll be so grateful for it. I pray for your strengthen and that you’ll be able to keep your forgiveness this time around.


  4. Kiesha, much of my walk with the Lord has been one huge lesson in forgiveness. After years of prayer and laying a certain someone at the Lord’s feet something supernatural happened. I found that I had become so good at forgiving that it truly has become “as if they never did it”. And this was a person who did not actually stop the very bad behavior. It can be misunderstood as me being in “denial” but it is not. It is freedom. Now I can pray and believe for him, and others, unencumbered. God is so good.


    Kiesha Reply:

    Hi Sinea,
    Glad to see you here. Even gladder that you’re able to enjoy the freedom that does, indeed, come with forgiveness. I know exactly what you mean about other people seeing it as either “denial” or that you’re letting someone “walk all over you” – that’s just because they don’t have an understanding of how much peace comes with it. I pray for your continued strength – yes, God is so good!


  5. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do. You have to let go of all your anger just to forgive someone who has done something to you, especially if it lives a mark or should I say a deeper wound. We should learn to forgive and forget because that’s the only way that we could be truly happy. I know it’s no that easy but at least try to accept that everything happens for a reason and that it will also help you grow, understand things and become stronger.

    – Larra


  6. Forgiveness is so hard, but so is carrying around hatred in your heart. Once you forgive it truly is a liberation.


  7. Unforgiveness hinders your progress as well. The hurt and betrayal stays fresh in your memory and it can sometimes make you bitter. This hinders your spiritual growth in Christ and also hinders you socially. People tends not to stick around someone that is bitter.

    That wall of defense that is raised when we have unforgiveness, tends to block us from seeing anything good.

    Do you realize? All of what I just said is what happens to us. While the person that have done you wrong, goes on with life in happiness and peace. Unforgiveness only hurts us not the individual. But forgiveness releases you.



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