How to Forgive Someone Who Hurt You Deeply: 5 Biblical Steps

Have you ever been hurt deeply by someone and struggled to move past the pain? Do you find yourself feeling bitter, resentful, or unable to let go of an offense? If so, you're not alone. Being wounded by others is an inevitable part of life in a broken world. But did you know forgiveness is the key to unlocking your healing, freedom, and peace?

Let's explore what the Bible says about forgiveness and how to practice it in our lives and relationships. As we dive in, reflect honestly:
  • Who do I need to forgive?
  • What's holding me back from releasing this offense?
  • How could choosing forgiveness change my life?

What Forgiveness Is...and Isn't

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what forgiveness means. So, let's start by clarifying what biblical forgiveness is NOT:

  1. Forgiveness is NOT approving, excusing, justifying, or minimizing the wrong done to you. It doesn't mean acting like the offense was okay or no big deal.
  2. Forgiveness does not necessarily reconcile the relationship. Reconciliation requires rebuilding trust and requires both parties. You can fully forgive someone even if you never reestablish closeness.
  3. Forgiveness is NOT forgetting what happened. Forgetting may be impossible if the wound was deep. True forgiveness remembers graciously.

So then, what IS forgiveness according to the Bible? In essence, forgiveness is choosing to release the offender from the debt they rightfully owe you. It's deciding not to hold their wrong against them, seek revenge, or let bitterness take root in your heart.

As Christians, we forgive by faith out of obedience to God - whether the person deserves it. Colossians 3:13 says, "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."

Pause and reflect:
  • Do I have a biblical view of forgiveness?
  • In light of how much God has forgiven me, is there anyone I'm withholding forgiveness from?

Why Forgiveness Matters for Your Sake

It's easy to have the misconception that extending forgiveness is mainly about the other person's good. But did you know forgiveness is vital to YOUR emotional, spiritual, and physical health?

Holding onto an offense is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. The reality is that resentment and unforgiveness steal your joy, peace, and hope. Bitterness is a toxin that slowly destroys you from the inside out.

That's why Ephesians 4:31-32 urges us, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

Forgiveness is ultimately a gift you give yourself. It's how you get unstuck, break free, and move forward. No matter how much you've been hurt, forgiveness empowers you to release the pain to God and pursue healing. It positions your heart to receive the restoration and blessing God has for you.

Reflect personally:
  • How have I seen unforgiveness negatively affect me?
  • What could forgiveness unlock in my life?
  • What is God inviting me to release to Him?

How to Forgive When It Feels Impossible

If you're struggling to forgive, be encouraged that you're not alone. Forgiveness is not easy, automatic, or always a one-time choice. It's a process that requires ongoing work, intentionality, and God's supernatural help.

Remember, forgiveness is not a feeling but a decision. We may not FEEL like forgiving. But with God's grace, we can choose to forgive out of obedience and faith. Like Jesus on the cross, we can pray, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)

If forgiveness feels impossible in your situation, here are some practical steps to help you move forward:
  1. Be honest with God. Pour out your hurt to Him and invite Him into the messy process of forgiveness. He cares and understands.
  2. Forgive by faith, not feelings. Choose to release the debt and surrender the situation to God, even before your emotions catch up.
  3. Pray for the person. Ask God to bless them and work in their life. Prayer breaks the power of bitterness and ushers in healing.
  4. Set healthy boundaries. Forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same. You can release the person without re-engaging in unsafe or unhealthy dynamics.
  5. Embrace the healing journey. Forgiveness unlocks the door to freedom, but it's not an instant fix. Give yourself grace and space to process pain God's way.

Above all, fix your eyes on Jesus and the limitless forgiveness He extends to you. Colossians 3:13 reminds us to "Forgive as the Lord forgave you." When we understand the incredible debt Christ paid for us on the cross, how can we do anything but forgive others?

Pause and consider:
  • What do I sense God speaking to my heart about forgiveness?
  • What's one practical step I can take TODAY to release unforgiveness and extend grace?
  • How can Jesus' example empower me to forgive?

Forgiveness in Action: A Powerful Testimony

To see the transforming impact of biblical forgiveness, consider this powerful story of a family I was privileged to counsel:

There was once a deeply divided family, torn apart by years of hurt and offense. Bitterness and unforgiveness had built walls between them, and the pain felt insurmountable.
But then, by God's grace, each family member took a courageous step—they humbled themselves, asked for forgiveness, and extended forgiveness to one another. And something supernatural happened…

The atmosphere tangibly shifted. Where there had been strife and tension, peace and freedom entered in. Tears flowed, hugs were exchanged, and a new beginning emerged. The power of forgiveness didn't erase the past, but it released the pain and made space for healing, restoration, and genuine reconciliation.

What had felt utterly impossible became beautifully possible with God. And this true story is an invitation for all of us:
No matter how serious the offense or how long unforgiveness has festered, it is never too late to forgive.

Take a moment to reflect prayerfully:
  • Who is God calling me to forgive today?
  • Who do I need to ask forgiveness from?
  • How could choosing forgiveness supernaturally change my life and relationships?

Forgiveness is not about feeling warm fuzzies for the person who hurt you. It's not about excusing the offense or forgetting the pain. It's about releasing the person from the debt they owe you and trusting God with the outcome.

Forgiveness may feel costly in the moment, but it paves the way for priceless freedom, healing, and peace. It repositions your heart to experience the abundant life Jesus died to give you.

No matter how deep the wound, your story doesn't have to end in bitterness and baggage. By God's grace, you can forgive and be forgiven. You can break the chains of offense and walk in joyful liberty on the other side.

So don't wait another day. Choose forgiveness now and start writing a new God-authored chapter to your story!

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