Christian Counseling: Forgiveness Questions
Questions around forgiveness are extremely common during Christian Counseling. There are many misconceptions especially in the Christian community. In a previous post, I shared 4 important steps to follow and understand when it comes to forgiveness. These included:
- It is commanded
- It frees us
- It allows us access back into fellowship with the Father
- It is for the forgiver, not the forgiven
Because this can be a touchy, emotional issue for a lot of people, I get asked a lot of questions. Here are some of the most common ones I get asked:
Is it wrong for me to say “I forgive” and then start feeling angry again?
No! In fact that is normal! Forgiveness is a process, not a one time decision. It all starts with the choice to forgive and trust that God can take care of the situation and you. Our emotions may take a little while to catch up with that decision. You may have to “remind” yourself hundreds of times that you’ve chosen to forgive, before you actually feel as if you’ve released the anger and truly forgiven.
Do I have to have a relationship with the person once I’ve forgiven them?
This one can be tricky. First you need to deal with your feelings (the anger/grudge you’ve held onto) about what happened and get into a healthier place with those. Once you feel you’ve truly been able to forgive the person, then it’s possible to potentially have a relationship with them, if they are able to repent from what they did.
If they are not remorseful and continue to attempt to hurt you, you do not have to keep putting yourself in a hurtful position. Luke 17:3 tells us: “So watch yourselves. If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.” The key is that they must truly repent for what they’ve done. Repentance is proven by a change in behavior.
But what if the offender has died?
Making a choice to extend forgiveness to someone is not dependent upon them being in front of you or not. You do not have to tell them the words, “I forgive you.” It is more a decision between you and God.
Unforgiveness affects relationships on a fundamental level. I’ve witnessed this repeatedly with my Christian Counseling clients. They will continue to argue over the same subjects with loved ones they’ve been hurt by. Rather than look at the heart of the issue –both have been hurt and purposely hurt one another – they choose to continue to argue about meaningless topics. It’s only when we decide to take responsibility for our own actions and truly apologize, that real healing can finally take place.
If you’re feeling stuck in a relationship or have additional forgiveness questions, I want to invite you to learn more about our Christian Counseling services. There we can support you in releasing those hurts and moving forward in a healthier way.