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Man this can be tough! Someone has wronged you. I mean they really hurt you. You are left devastated after this, and they just go on like nothing ever happened. No accountability, no change, and no remorse! That’s the toughest! I understand what you are saying. I know it is hard and it hurts, and you want them to pay for what they did. And since they have no consequences, the next best thing is to harbor bitterness and resentment. Right? I mean, let’s just shut them out and not speak to them. That will teach them! At least it feels like we have some sense of control by stonewalling people.

I’m sorry to break the news to you. But it doesn’t teach them. I truly wish it did. But I would be lying if I said it did. Because it doesn’t. It’s the hardest thing, thinking about that offense. How dare they! You have a right to be angry. You have a right to be validated in being hurt. But the only thing that unforgiveness does for you is hold you in bondage. You are now being controlled by the person who hurt you. You mull over what they did and get more mad. You think about it and experience the pain all over again. People who harbor unforgiveness are more prone to depression and anxiety. They tend to participate in negative self-talk which makes things worse. It makes you feel worse.

Do you want to heal? Then chose to forgive. Forgiveness does NOT mean they are off the hook. It does NOT mean we excuse the behavior. What they did was wrong. They will still have natural consequences. Forgiveness means you no longer seek revenge. The Bible says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord”. (Romans 12:19-21). Trust that the Lord will give those consequences. When you catch yourself trying to take revenge. Stop! Remember that the Lord will repay. He will avenge you for the hurt the person has caused you. It may not be in your timing, but it will happen. He promises if we get out of the way, He will repay. The Bible says to make room for His wrath. (Romans 12:19-21).

There are actually two parts to forgiveness. First, choose to forgive. Make the choice today, you will not seek revenge for those who hurt you. Second, work through the process of forgiving. Heal from the pain. We cannot control what someone else does. But we can choose to forgive. Validate your hurt and figure out what you need to heal from this. For example, did you confide in a co-worker about your struggling marriage just to find out the entire office knows a week later? Betrayal of any kind is hard. Step 1. Choose to forgive. “I will not punish them by saying anything negative about them.” “I will not seek my own revenge”. Or try to make them look bad or repay their deed with another evil deed. “I will not punish them.” Take them off the hook. Step two. The forgiveness process: Validate what they did was wrong. It was hurtful. And now you feel vulnerable to your entire office. People you barely know have knowledge about you that they should not have knowledge about. What do you need to feel safe? Consider these things.  Are you thinking negatively about yourself? What is the truth? What is the evidence? How can you change these negative thoughts and align them with words that show your value and worth?

One thing to know is that forgiveness and trust are not interchangeable. When someone hurts you, you have a right to set boundaries with them. They do not get to use you as a door mat. They do not get to continue to abuse you, take advantage of you, or cause more pain. You have value and you need to know that worth. If someone betrays you, you do not need to share private information with them. You can protect your vulnerability. Trust is not freely given, it is earned. When someone breaks your trust, you have a right to say they need to earn that back. You also get to say how long it takes. There is no limit to earning broken trust.

For further reading:

Book: Forgive what you can’t forget by Lysa Terkeurst

Book: Boundaries: When to say yes how to say no to take control of your life.  by Henry Cloud and John Townsend


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