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How to Forgive Someone Who Has Hurt You

How to move on from past hurts

How to forgive someone
Credit: Getty Images

Forgiving others can be hard, especially when we have been hurt, rejected or offended by someone we trust. At a church I served in the past, I recall a member, Sophia, telling me about her personal battle with forgiveness. 

When Sophia was young, her father abandoned the family. They faced many hardships, and her anger toward him grew. Eventually, Sophia married and had children of her own, but she still wasn’t able to resolve her abandonment issues and resented her dad even more.  

Sophia went on to explain how she joined a six-week Bible study program based on habits, hang-ups and hurts. The program caused her unresolved issues with her father to resurface. During one of the sessions, the facilitator noted that forgiveness releases people from the burden created by others. 

He told the group that no one should be held captive by the pain others have caused. Sophia asked herself, “How could I release myself from the pain my dad caused me?” Her father was no longer alive, but the memory of his actions prevented Sophia from moving on. 

The thought of forgiving her father challenged Sophia. It would mean she needed to accept what he had done to her and her family—and be okay with it. In one of the class sessions, the facilitator suggested they write a letter to the person who had hurt them. Sophia decided to do it; it was time to let it go. 

She wrote about all of the pain and anger her dad had caused. She shared how his rejection and abandonment impacted her life. She finished by writing that she was now ready to forgive him and move on.

After she completed the letter, she read it out loud to an empty chair representing her dad. This was the beginning of her healing process. During the final class, Sophia shared with the group that writing the letter was one of the best things she had ever done. She felt free from her pain and ready to move on. 

When we forgive others, it doesn’t mean that we forget what they have done although in some cases, people do. What it does mean is that we are no longer emotionally and spiritually held hostage by their actions. Life is too short; we must learn to forgive. If not by our own power, we can with God’s help.

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