How To Truly Forgive Someone

Written by ElizabethThrives

how to truly forgive someone


True or False. There are some situations when it’s too hard or impossible to forgive someone….maybe because of repeated offenses or maybe because the wound(s) feel too deep.

FALSE! And I just need to say that is GREAT NEWS!

Forgiveness is something we ALL have the opportunity to do many, many times. Some of us extend it better than others, but a big equalizer is that we ALL have the chance to forgive people in our lives.

Why is that? Because we live in a fallen, sinful world and therefore, we are all affected by it! But there’s a way to learn to live with the fact that people will hurt us and wound us at times. (Sometimes this will be intentional and often, its unintentional on the part of the offender.)


The way to be free of the pain of wounds is most definitely to FORGIVE. No matter what has happened, it is absolutely possible to TRULY FORGIVE SOMEONE!

God has so much to say about forgiveness in His Word. In fact some of my favorite passages and verses on forgiveness are the following:

  • Ephesians 4:31-32Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
  • Luke 17:3-4So watch yourselves. If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.  Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.
  • Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
  • Matthew 6:14-15For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

As a follower of Christ, I know that I’ve been forgiven of much. I know that God calls us to forgive others the same way, and I’ve definitely learned WHY He asks this of us: FOR OUR FREEDOM.

Truly forgiving someone allows you to be FREE of it and to move on with your life!

Here is even more GOOD NEWS!

You can truly forgive someone, be free of the weight of it, and move on with your life, EVEN IF the offender does NOT apologize or feel sorry!

That’s crazy helpful because we can’t control other people. We can’t make someone feel something they don’t. My forgiving someone has everything to do with MY CHOICE and doesn’t depend on anyone else.

Whew! Now that we have that settled, we can move on to 3 powerful ways to truly forgive someone!

#1- Forgiveness is a Choice!

What if you do not FEEL forgiving at all, right? There are ways we can be deeply wounded by another person, and the last thing we feel is forgiving. 

If you read the Scriptures I mentioned (and I hope you did), did they say anything about FEELING forgiving?

Now I know there has never been more of an emotion driven time in our culture than right now. It can feel truly hard to separate our feelings out of something like this.

But I want to submit that all of us have 2 big driving forces- OUR EMOTIONS and OUR WILL. I know it may sound like I’m speaking a different language when I say this, but you CAN separate your emotions FROM your will.

You can put all your unforgiving feelings, your anger, your strong emotions of any kind- to the side, so to speak. And you can CHOOSE with your WILL to forgive someone.

Forgivness is not something we have to FEEL! Forgiveness is something we CHOOSE to DO!

#2- Say the Words of forgiveness!

You don’t have to wait until you are “over it”. You can feel all the angry hurt emotions in the world and you can still truly forgive someone!

If you are hurt with someone, you know the jail that it feels like you are in. Re-living the offense, spiraling in thoughts about it, I could go on and on. Here’s where WILLFULLY CHOOSING to forgive is so helpful to get you out of the wounded funk.

Think of it this way: Forgiveness is your ticket to freedom from the jail of hurt and often bitterness. So choose to forgive!

It could go something like this: “Feelings- you sit on the back burner for a minute.” And then simply Say. The. Words. “I choose to forgive  ___ for …..”

And you know what- you HAVE forgiven the offender at that moment. Does your heart FEEL forgiving?

No, not yet. Does that dis-count what you just chose to do with your will? Nope. Crazy good news again!!

That means we can’t say that something is just too horrible to forgive! If that were true, it would certainly cause despair if you have been wounded deeply. You would have no hope to get out of your pit of pain and hurt!

No, we forgive someone when we choose to say these powerful words: “I choose to forgive ____ for…!!”

If one particular person has hurt you in multiple ways and at multiple times, then I recommend more than the one blanket statement of forgivness towards that person.

Simply consider for a moment (I always pray and ask God to show me what I need to forgive the offender for) what needs to be forgiven. Then say the “I choose to forgive __ for ….” for each of those specific times. For example, “I forgive _____ for the time she said _____. And I forgive her for the time she did _____.”

Just whatever comes to mind- you don’t need to go searching and prodding too hard. Whatever comes to mind easily is usually exactly what needs to be forgiven.

It’s ok to have to choose to forgive a single person for many, many things. Just say the words with each offense that comes to mind.

Now, about the hurt feelings that still linger despite willfully choosing to forgive.

#3- Repeat the words of forgiveness as necessary!!

Our feelings of hurt, even deep pain, are a whole other animal.

First, let’s talk about what happens if we let these feelings go unchecked. If we simply relive the pain in our thoughts, nurture the hurt in our hearts, if we complain about it to others, or if we numb the pain in other ungodly ways…..

Anybody think the results of these choices lead to anything good?

You and I know- absolutely not.

Those things are a fast track to bitterness. The Bible has a thought provoking warning about us allowing bitterness- it says in Hebrews 12:15, “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

Wow. Bitterness can take root– go down deep- and then grow up and cause trouble for you AND others. Possibly the “others” are people you love and care about!

I’m going to share something with you that I feel like is a golden nugget you can keep in your pocket for all time!

It’s a way of walking out God’s call to forgive others who have hurt us.


Earlier we covered that when u choose to forgive and say it with your words, you ARE forgiving that person right then. So repeating the words of forgiveness is NOT to make the forgiveness “take”.

The person is already forgiven by you. The repeating of the words is YOUR tool to help your heart CATCH UP with what your will has already done.

PERSONAL EXAMPLE of forgiveness:

I had a particularly brutal season of my life in which I needed to forgive someone for what felt like a million things. This practical step looked like this for me:

I went thru ALL the damage and offenses and chose with my will to forgive the person for EACH ONE.

THEN when a memory would surface or an angry thought would come, I would simply say. “I forgive him for that.” If similar thoughts and memories would seek to mess with me– again, “I forgive him for that.” Over and over and over!

And eventually, my heart got on board with the”training” and I actually felt my heart healing. The OPPOSITE would have happened if I had wallowed in my pain and continually relived the bad memories.  Bitterness would have swallowed me up!

I like to think that repeating the words of forgiveness is also a powerful way to resist the enemy. The Bible says to resist the devil and he will FLEE from you (James 5:17).

When bitterness would want to take hold of me in certain moments, I always quickly resisted saying, “Nope- I forgive him for that.” And before any emotions even had a chance to rise up in me, they were gone and my heart was light and free!

I first applied this in that rough time of my life. That was 25ish years ago. Since then, I have applied the “golden nugget” of repeating words of forgiveness every time I’m hurt! It’s the opposite of being a slave to my emotions!


Simply take a minute and ask: “Is there anyone in my life I need to forgive? Anyone I’m hurt with for reasons in the past or present?

If one or many things come to mind, just take it one situation at a time, and apply these 3 powerful ways to truly forgive someone.


{Check out this FREE printable of daily proverbs to pray over your children. Get yours today!}





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