Tough Relationships: How God's Love Helps Us Forgive

Maybe you’ve got a tough relationship with your parents. Maybe you’ve recently been through a breakup with your boyfriend or girlfriend, and it still stings.

Whatever your relationship challenges are, I know it can’t be easy to hear people talking about “letting go” or telling you to “forgive and forget.”

You may not feel like you’ll ever be able to let go. And in a sense, you’re right. The pain others cause us is something we carry with us throughout our lives, even if the intensity fades some over time.

How or why would you want to forget the situation that caused you so much pain? You need to keep past experiences in mind in order to make wise relationship choices in the future.

But you’re not stuck. Because God’s forgiveness can help us even when moving forward after being hurt in a relationship seems impossible.

God Forgives More Than We Know

A search through your Bible shows you some amazing things about God’s forgiveness.
One of my favorite passages about forgiveness is found in Psalm 103:
“Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins?
and heals all your diseases. . .
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Be encouraged: God’s forgiveness is enough to forgive all our sins and to separate us from what makes us stumble. His love is so great, along with his power over sin, that we don’t have to struggle to forgive people on our own.

How to Ask for God’s Help Forgiving Others

If we ask God for His help, and for His forgiveness to be front and center, our emotions don’t have as much control and we are able to move toward greater freedom from the pain in our relationships.

Praying about relationships is one of the best ways to get God involved when you’re working on forgiveness. Even if you struggle with belief in God, the act of prayer opens a lot of doors. If you struggle with prayer, asking someone to pray for you or to pray with you can have a big impact.

Talking to a pastor, priest, or other spiritual leader you trust can also help you work on forgiveness in a way that makes sense for your spiritual needs.

What if I Don’t Feel Like Forgiving?

Sometimes forgiveness can seem like it’s a cop-out, but there’s good news here. I realized some time ago that true forgiveness doesn’t mean I’m okay with being hurt. It doesn’t mean I have to like what was done, or even that I need to have warm feelings toward the person.

I just need to decide that I don’t need payback or revenge against that person in order to be fulfilled. True forgiveness is a way of letting go of that person’s power over me, and focusing my energy on relationships that are giving and nurturing.

Be patient with yourself as you learn to forgive others. It’s definitely a process and an ongoing decision we have to make (sometimes daily). If you’re not sure where to start, try saying something like this in prayer, or even just to yourself as you prepare for your day: I want to forgive this person, and I will try my best. I will ask for help with forgiveness when I need it. You may be surprised how much a mindset shift like that can help you forgive others who have caused you pain in difficult relationships.

If you’ve been making efforts like these for a while but feel overwhelmed by pain and still need help with forgiveness, you’re never alone. We are here to listen and offer advice when you need it, and you are in my prayers each and every day!

Are you having a problem forgiving yourself? Read this eye-opening guest blog from our friend, Amanda Turner here.

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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