How to Forgive When You Can’t Forget: 5 Things You Need to Know

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Footprints in the sand

removed by incoming tide

total forgiveness

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Wendy/ 2015

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How to Forgive When You Can’t Forget: 5 Things You Need to Know

1.Take Charge: Memories of past hurt and/or betrayal sometimes behave like rambunctious children in the back seat of the car you’re driving. Being on Route Forgiveness doesn’t mean you’ll never experience potholes along the road. When your emotions shift into high gear, you need to—take charge. Remind yourself you’ve already chosen to forgive. You’ve made the choice, and the rabble rouser trying to backseat drive will have to yield to your resolve to do the right thing. Peace and poison cannot reside together in your heart. It’s one or the other.

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2.Take Care: Sometimes we struggle to forgive because we need to take better care of our emotional, physical, and/or spiritual health. To follow Christ and to be Christ-like requires us to do as He did. He frequently spent time alone with God. If He needed to have a quiet time with the Father, then you know we need it all the more. Eating, sleeping, and exercising in moderation are crucial for both mental and physical health. Finding sources of kindred encouragement by reading godly books about whatever type of pain or abuse you’ve experienced can provide the validation and inspiration you need to move forward. It’s never a good idea to bury the past without having gone through all the stages of grief. Taking care of yourself requires acknowledging your injuries and seeking out the appropriate help. It’s comforting and reassuring to know you’re not alone.

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3.Take Control: We don’t have to live with or spend time with an abusive person. If the abuser is stuck in denial about his/her harmful ways and refuses to get help and enter recovery, then you need to take control of your own life and set up secure boundaries. In extreme cases this may require the help of professionals. There are laws to protect us. But they only work when they’re applied. Speaking up and reaching out for help will set the system in motion. Sadly, in severe situations (such as extreme narcissism) this may require more resources than what’s available for free; in which case one would benefit from becoming as informed as possible regarding a particular spectrum of behavior. Knowledge is power. And prayer is your best weapon of defense.

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4.Take Count: We need to remember to count our blessings. If you’ve forgiven a good-willed person who has repented from their prior behavior, you’ll need to stay focused on the full half of the glass. No one likes being under constant surveillance or suspicion. Believe and rejoice in the blessings you see. If you’re always watching out for a relapse, or evidence of an impending one, you’ll miss out on joy. God’s in control. You’re not responsible for someone else’s behavior. Trust God to let you know if something’s afoot and stay in the moment. Count every single blessing. Discount doubt unless God has made it clear there’s a problem. I’ve never regretted believing the best. It’s amazing how the Holy Spirit can alert a parent or spouse about an issue that needs attention. Wait on the Lord.

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5.Take Counsel: We need to listen, learn, and live each day as a student of life. Take counsel where you sense God is nudging you to. Just today, before I began working on this article, I felt the nudge to tidy the kitchen during a Focus on the Family radio broadcast so I could be built up in my spirit as I worked. Sure enough, God had some timely counsel for me to hear. Joy overflowed as I received confirmation about a question I’d been mulling over for days. There are a variety of ways to take counsel: wise friendships, radio programs, sermons, bible studies, care-groups, pod-casts, blogs, and gotta love em’—books (especially the Bible). And of course, don’t forget to allow for time in your prayer closet to hear the Spirit’s counsel upon your own heart. He cares. In fact, one of the Holy Spirit’s names is Counselor (see John 14:26).

Take charge, take care, take control, take count, and take counsel.

Blessings of Total Forgiveness ~ Wendy

It’s your turn—do you have anything to add?

What helps you stay on Route Forgiveness?

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These photographs are from a recent weekend retreat our family shared together.

My oldest son took the above sneak shot of my husband and me.

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