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Saturday, June 27, 2009

When Someone Will Not Forgive You

The lack of forgiveness is very painful if you have asked for that forgiveness. God always gives it to us. Other people are not so accomodating. Some people will not forgive you. It is a volitional decision on their part.

One Sunday morning I forgot a tragedy that had happened in a family's life. I had been pastor of that church for about six months and was still learning the names of the members. Most pastors are better at making their members believe they can remember all of their members names than I am. I greeted this family but said nothing about their tragedy.

The next week I was confronted by a member of this family before the first worship service. I was essentially accused of not caring about people. I blew up when I believed my character was being assassinated. I should have just taken my lumps and gone on. I should have taken into account their loss. I was clearly in the wrong.

I went to the home of the family to apologize. They never forgave me even though they said the right words. They called the church each time they had a physical problem to let it known that they did not want me visiting them in the hospital. I was not received when I went to the home to pray for them over an illness. I was met in the yard and reminded of my transgressions. I was essentially told that there was nothing that I could ever do that would result in forgiveness.

Not everyone is going to forgive you when you do something wrong. It would seem that the people in the church would be the first to forgive but sometimes they become the last.

Here is how I believe you should act when someone will not forgive you after you have asked for their forgiveness. By the way, asking for forgiveness does not include pointing out the other person's faults. It is taking full responsibility for your actions.

Take into account that the pain you have inflicted on this person may have caused them to refuse forgiving you. It is hard to forgive when you still hurt. Give the person some time. Keep hoping that he will allow forgiveness into his heart when the pain subsides.

Don't expect forgiveness if you are still committing the offense. Offended people have good reason to continue the hostility if you do so. The first step of reconciliation must be the discontinuation of the offensive action. You can't build trust while you are violating it. Duh!

A person who won't forgive you has made you their enemy. This does not necessarily mean that he is constantly fighting with you but that he refuses to be reconciled. He refuses to give forgiveness and work toward rebuilding the relationship. The purpose of war is not to continue hostility. The purpose of war is peace. You are at war with someone who will not grant peace.

Jesus told us to pray for our enemies. His attitude is to pray for good things in their lives. Pray that they have good health, are financially blessed and are happy in their lives. Don't pray self-serving prayers which will cause them to need you. This is the substance of television programs but not the way true Christianity should be lived. If you pray for them to be blessed you will not take up the offense they are giving you by not forgiving.

The Bible says that God will not forgive the person that will not forgive. This means that the unforgiving person may not be a believer. You should treat this person in that manner. This means he doesn't need to be rebuked. He needs Jesus.

Jesus told us that we would know who a person really is by what his life produces. The lack of forgiveness means that the forgiveness that Christ has given them has not taken root. It has not grown the tree of forgiveness which bears forgiveness. The lack of this characteristic is an indication that the person needs Christ. Pray for this person's salvation. He has no basis of granting forgiveness if he is not saved for he does not understand the payment of Christ for all our sins.

He is God's responsibility if he is saved.He is rejecting Jesus' blood as the basis of forgiving you if he is saved. God does not look favorably upon this. Give this person over to God to work on. He will have no peace if he is a Christian and disobeys God's command to forgive others.

You cannot make a person forgive you. However, you can keep that lack of forgiveness from making you bitter. Remember that you are already forgiven because of the blood of Jesus. He covered your sin forever on the Cross.

Lastly, keep praying, keep hoping and keep your eyes on Jesus.

(Please note that I have a new blog written March 8, 2010 which may also help you. It is called, "When Someone Won't Trust You")

86 comments:

ynoyes said...

Thank you. This is helping me tremendously.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article. This is the first thing I have found anywhere on the net or bookstore or anywhere about what to do when someone won't forgive you. I've been in a lot of pain because of the rejection and condemnation that has been put upon me by another person who won't forgive me.

Prentis said...

I am deeply sorry for your pain. I pray that God will comfort you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your help.pls pray for us all?
thank u once more.

Anonymous said...

I have been so sad over my husband not being able to forgive a mistake that I made. We were both Cristians then left church...and a lot happened. Now I've com back to the Lord and my husband still cant forgive me. Im heartbroken. I feel like I pray and pray and nothing happens. Please pray for me. Please :(

Prentis said...

Many people who won't forgive are afraid of giving up their pain. I don't know why. Please understand that he may be hurting. I will pray for you both.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate so much your article. I have asked my sister for forgiveness and she not only refuses but sends hateful emails to myself and includes terrible comments about my husband who was not involved. I lent my sister money last year and asked this year, after losing my job, if she could repay it. It was only $300.00. She became bolistic in her verbal and email response. How do you let it go when you have reached out to a person and they choose not to forgive?

ladyivymaxwell said...

Thanks so much for this article! i was worried about someone that i had hurt... i can see it and i
cant do anything about it...I have been forgiven by god...and i have forgave her for lashing out at me ... but i dont want her to suffer any more ... but now that i know i can keep asking god to help her .. im relieved... i want her life get better... thanks so much

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this. My father says he has forgiven me, but refuses to rebuild our relationship. I was angry with him for the years of silence but I understand better now where I went wrong. We're both Christians.I live with overwhelming guilt and sorrow daily.

Prentis said...

God does not want you to live with guilt or sorrow. Jesus died for whatever you did. His blood covers whatever you did. He paid the price. Your father is holding a debt that isn't his to hold. He may not trust you but he must forgive you. Forgiveness is purely a gift. He has been given this gift if he is a Christian. He cannot have this gift if he will not forgive.

The lack of forgiveness is saying that Jesus sacrifice on the cross is insufficient. The person who won't forgive has a standard higher than God's standard. God accepted Jesus' blood as the atoning sacrifice. Those who won't forgive are saying that Jesus' death on the cross wasn't enough!

God wants us to know His forgiveness and His joy. He has totally forgiven you. Say this to yourself until you really start to believe it.

Anonymous said...

please pray for me and my husband some things that i told my older girls my husband is still mad about.I have told him that i was sorry and he said sorry dont cut in the real world and that what he thought that was sacred.But he is the one that has done all the real bad things he has had an affair and now leaving with my 22yr. old cousin which is 4 years older than our oldest child but he does not see that at all.He has told his friend that he is still so angry for me telling the girls his secret thing not the affair it is something worse than that.Please pray for my family i think he wants to come home but has let this get out of hand.I have prayed for god to show me that he is working and give me something to show me so i can tell my girls that god is working in all this please pray for us

Anonymous said...

There is a lady at church that I have gone to apologized twice now, if I have offended her. She will walk right by me and not speak. The women of the church sees this "split". What can I do? If I speak to her, she does respond but how long do I give this? She is head of women's ministry and I'd like to quit everything at this point, making it easier for the other women. It is very uncomfortable at church or whenever the two of us are in the same room. I understand she has been hurt by several people but things need to move on. Should I approach her again? It is not in my heart to do this again.

Prentis said...

Sometimes there is nothing you can do. Doesn't it make you wonder what people think the gospel is all about? How can they understand forgiveness if they won't give forgiveness?
Maybe her problem is trust and not forgiveness. Read the blog I wrote titled: "Does Trust Come with Forgiveness? That might help you understand if she has been hurt by several people in the church.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your point of view. I lost a good friend/a mentor/and someone I considered a big sis because I didn't realize the strife I had caused in her life. I apologized twice for causing her pain. We get wrapped up in saying things like "I am sorry that I did..." but our SIN is causing strife in that person's life and we need to apologize for that. What hurts is when you, like me, realize how we have truly harmed that other person and SINNED against God. We apologize to the person and repent/reconcile with God but the friendship is broken and since it is a two way street it hurts because we want to learn and grow. Some people instead cut and run. It doesn't hurt any less. We need to be like the parable of the prodigal son and keep a watchful eye for their return but let them go and keep praying that God will be there helping them grow in their journey and if they are not a Christian that God will bring the right people and circumstances into their life so they become His child. In the meantime pray for our healing and give that person to God's great care. Me... still healing from hurt but still moving forward.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. My husband has been going through depression and cannot forgive me for something that happened ten years ago and he is also turned against his parents for something that happened as a child and he cannot forgive. He also had an affair as part of the depression. I have forgiven him for that as I know he was ill, and he basically expects me to forgive him, however he still will not forgive me for what I did to him. Please pray for me and my marriage of 25 years.

Prentis said...

Your story is very common. Many people have emailed me personally with very similar stories. I wish people would see how they have already been forgiven and work hard at forgiving others. I will pray for you and your husband.

Anonymous said...

thanks for this, my husband also cant and wont forgive me for something that happened before we got married (i kissed a guy and confessed to him)and he said he forgave me but clearly not coz it keeps coming up everytime we have a fight, so now we are seperated and i have not repeated the offence, i dont know what else, may God have his way in this matter

Anonymous said...

My ex-brother-in-law has been angry and unforgiving of me for the last twenty years. I have tried to reconcile with him, but he has no interest in having anything to do with me or his nephew and niece. Understanding that because he isn't a believer, and therefore doesn't understand, forgiveness as given to us by Christ on the Cross, has given me tremendous insight into the situation. Thank you!

Namratha Saldanha said...

I have been suffering a lot from the past 5 months.... i love this person & i was eagerly waiting for him to return from abroad, from the time he arrived he has seized to communicate to me & refused to speak to me - i have asked for forgiveness several times but no luck. Its killing me even today because i am emotionally attached to this person from the past 3.5yrs. I dont know the reason for his behaviour, i cant stop loving him & he is not speaking to me nor is he ready to talk or reconcile or forgive me. i am suffering a lot Day & Night - i have become emotionally very week & Thnak you for wwriting this - i will surely pray for him.

MB said...

Thank you for this. I have someone in my life who will not only not forgive me, but will not tell me what my offense is. This has caused me so much pain. This help. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have been married for 9 years and we have two young children. There were things I did not tell him about my past and recently have let go of pieces at a time, each time telling him I was giving him the full story. The lie that I was giving him the full story made him feel as if we based our whole relationship on lies and as if I am still withholding some truth. He is struggling hard with deep anger, bitterness and a feeling of betrayal. He says he cannot forgive me and wants to divorce. He says he cannot understand how I could forgive him for an affair he had several years ago and thinks something is wrong with me for my forgiveness of him. He doesn't understand how what Jesus did at the cross changed me and he is not open to the gospel. I try to live and love in such a way that he will see without words but his anger is very hard to live with. I cry almost daily. Since we cannot afford a divorce right now, we are living a very hard life. I have told him that I know it was wrong for me to lie and to keep the truth from him and that I am deeply hurt by hurting him. But I feel as if his anger and his bitterness make him feel righteous and he is afraid to let go of it. He thinks it would make him "wrong". He likes being "right" so he holds this anger and it consumes him. Please pray for our desperate situation!

Prentis said...

My heart hurts for you. I suspect that your husband is not really telling you the truth. I suspect that he is having a hard time forgiving himself for what he has done. Maybe he thinks a divorce will allow him to escape the hurt he is causing himself. Blaming you may get him to the divorce that allows him out of his guilt. It is very difficult to understand forgiveness if you are not a Christian. A price needs to be paid. Maybe your husband is trying to make his own payment. I promise to pray for you.

Anonymous said...

I had a business relationship with someone, and my business failed. We both lost a lot of money. I feel badly and responsible for repaying him, but I am not financially able, and had to have all my business debts discharged through bankruptcy. I still feel so guilty, but I am trying to move on, but my ex business associate has a poisonous hatred for me and refuses to forgive me or accept any loss. I struggle with feeling so bad, but I know that I have done all I can and that I need to move on. Do you have any advise?

Prentis said...

Remember that forgiveness is a gift. (Give is actually in forgive.) This person has refused to forgive. There is nothing in the world that you can do to make someone forgive you. But you need to give a gift to yourself. You need to forgive you. The lack of forgiveness results in depression or bitterness. Bitterness is like taking poison and hoping the other person dies. This is what your ex-partner is doing. You should pray for him.

Maggie said...

Thank you for posting this. It has helped me so very much. I have forgiven myself and I knew God had forgiven me, but now I pray that the one I wronged will find it in her heart to forgive me. This truly helped me when I needed it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much and God bless you for this article. As stated by one of the other posters, I've not been able to find an article that addresses when someone will not forgive you.
I do have a question, if we have sinned against someone in more than one way, should each sinned be acknowledged individually?
Again, thank you for the article.

Prentis said...

Please remember that forgiveness is a gift. It is a gift when you receive it and when you give it. Confession is an acknowledgement of a debt. Sometimes it is better to keep that to ourselves. I really don't need to confess to my wife each time I have been frustrated with something she has done. Thankfully, she doesn't do so either. Sometimes I must confess. It depends on the offense. I might have to confess that I stole from my boss but not every date I did so. I can simply state the amount. The same goes for other confessions. "I have said things that have hurt you," is a confession. Recalling each of those is not helpful. In other words, I don't know if you should confess each instance. It depends upon what has been done and what sort of confession you have already made. I will take some of my own wrongdoings to the grave with me because the confession will hurt others. These are things I have thought but only God knows about.

Anonymous said...

My husband will not forgive me. We are newlyweds, and we have both made mistakes in these first months of our marriage. Most instances were words said in anger. I chose to forgive him and move forward. He says that he still loves me, but he will not accept my sincere and multiple apologies. My husband recently has said that he wants a divorce. Please pray for us and thank you for the article.

Prentis said...

I hurt for you as I read your comment. I don't know why but I was impressed that your husband may be afraid of something. Is it possible that he is afraid of you learning something about him? The lack of forgiveness is commonly a protection mechanism to keep us from being hurt. Often people reject those they love because they are afraid of losing them. Making it happen seems to hasten what they believe is inevitable. Would you forgive him for anything he has done? Maybe he needs to hear that. I don't know. I may be wrong.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I got into an argument about 4 months ago, it resulted in him hitting me. He has not apologized for what he did nor has ever mentioned it. He talks to me as if it never happend. I feel hurt, anger, and bitterness in my heart towards him. My best friend is telling me to forgive him even if he does not apologize. However, my heart still aches. I am a Christian but my husband is not. My friend told me that if I do not forgive him then I am more wrong for not forgiving him than my husband is for hitting me. Why is that? Please pray for us.

Prentis said...

Your husband should never have hit you. I believe that most violence is an effort to gain dominance. He must have felt he could not gain dominance without the violence.
If he truly loves you he is fully aware of what he has done. He has no idea how to apologize or ask for forgiveness without becoming dominated by that act. I suspect that he would like to receive forgiveness since he is acting like nothing happened. If he was a tyrant he would keep hitting you.
Forgive as a gift but do so this way: Ask permission to talk about what happened. Apologize for your own actions. Maybe you were loud and forceful too. Then, tell him that you forgive him for hitting you. I will be surprised if he doesn't respond with, "I'm sorry." I believe this hurt you are feeling now will grow into a root of bitterness and will damage your future relationship. I believe your act of forgiveness will help your husband understand unconditional love. It could move him closer to coming to Christ.
Yes, I will pray for you.

Anonymous said...

I'm not the most emotionally stable person at times. My boyfriend was unfortunately the victim of my lashing out and holding him responsible for something that was NOT his problem. Anyways, I dont know if he will forgive me or if he will even come back and restore our relationship. I feel horrible for what i said to him, how i hurt him with my words and I wish he could forgive me and love me again. Please pray that his heart is softened so that he remembers all the wonderful times we have shared.I love him and he onced loved me. Please pray for me.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful help on this site! I've had lifelong emotional abuse from my Mother as the eldest of three daughters. Now 53 I was into my 40's before my husband convinced me it wasn't my fault and that I was "the abused chasing my abuser". Siblings were taught to exclude me and I was always compared. I thought I was making a better relationship with my younger sister in the last 20 years but was "picked up and then put down" a lot. (I left home at 18. Rest of family still in home town. I married and became a Christian.)7 years ago parents separated and I was told about it by younger sister. Both other sisters very involved supporting Mother so I stayed in background. Father rang me out of blue and I accepted him, but kept quiet as all others attacking him. DIDN'T PRAY ENOUGH I know! Long story short younger sister rang one day and said wanted no further contact when told her I was talking to Dad.
Long story short Dad changed his Will all to me and my family. He got cancer in 2008. When very sick I rang younger sister to say so out of duty. No apology or explanation she was at hospital one night as I arrived and held out her arms. I didn't want to give over control yet again and didn't hug her. I confessed to God I was sorry when she was gone. She sat by Dad all week til he died. We hugged after that and told her I'd sort his funeral wishes. I was phoned by other angry sister for putting death notice in local paper. We sent directions to funeral in post. None of them came and I received hatemail(which my husband warned me may happen)morning after funeral condemning me for not being by Dad's bed as much as sister was, and what bad, unChristian people we are. I then felt more guilty inheriting all Dad's estate! Crying out to God immediately found Zephaniah 3 vv.17,18. My faith sustains me but I'm troubled daily.

Prentis said...

Often the hardest person to forgive is the one who stares back at you in the mirror every morning. You have to receive the forgiveness from yourself too.

JP Salamanca said...

Thank you for this post, it was exactly what I needed right now. My ex-girlfriend, I had met in December 2009, and before then I was saved in college in 1999, but after going to war in Iraq I was afflicted by PTSD, which in turn tempted me until in my ignorance I turned away from God. I asked God of proof that I still mattered to Him by putting someone in my life who would be able to show me that a human being can still love someone with the disorder, and then there she was.

I moved from Portland to Illinois to be with her a year after meeting, but not without more scars. During the relationship I did not trust God 100% because of the many things I lost, and I sinned against God and her over and over, letting my anger get the best of me, fear ruling my life, trepidation taking over my identity.

When I finally forced my way to Illinois, she ended up with many emotional scars and broke up with me even when I was finally close to her. In my solitude I gave my life to the Lord fully, in full confidence and trust after having turned away from Him. I returned everything she gave me for that reason; as a way of showing that I was placing God over her. However, the emotional scars I gave her remained. Just this past month, she disrespected me and condemned me so much that I had to tell her that the friendship had become toxic, and we both angrily cut contact.

Now I've realized (perhaps too late), that I should have understood that the things I have said and the ways I have acted really hurt deeply, enough for her to withhold any possible reconciliation. I keep trying to repent and to continue in Christ, but also to reconcile with everyone I had deemed an enemy, or that I had hurt or pushed away because of my condition. But she alone has decided that she doesn't want me in her life, nor contact her anymore.

It feels like in her fear, she is ensuring that she never forgives me. She is Christian - but I still feel like I'm an enemy, without any possibility of being a friend. I do regret and am sorry for the things I've done to hurt her and told her many times, but every time I try with a contrite heart to reconcile, there is only judgement and my pleas are denied. I bring them to God but my mind is yet to be renewed from the pain.

How shall I go about this in a Christian manner? I remain patient in love and faith, that God will help us...but I can already tell, The Enemy will use this against me in the future to make me backslide or fall again.

Anonymous said...

Forgiveness is so complicated. When you approach another Christian in an attempt to clear up a misunderstanding, and they say "no hard feelings" but proceed to treat you as if you don't exist. Then what?

Prentis said...

Actually forgiveness is simple. You decide you will give the person you need to forgive the gift of forgiveness. People take what God has intended to be simple and complicate it. People can be deceptive. They can even deceive themselves. They can believe they are acting like Christians without realizing that means they are acting like Christ.
The lack of receiving forgiveness from others is no excuse for not forgiving them. Forgive the person who won't forgive you so that their unforgiveness will not stick to you.

didyawoner@aol.com said...

My problem is the person who will not forgive me is my Pastor. She even told me at a meeting in which I sat across from her and asked her to forgive me and that I was truly sorry for what I had said....her comment was.."you can't be forgiven...." I know that I am forgiven, but th=o have a pastor that is so angry and unforgiving if tough. This is a problem with many in our church but the powers that be seem to not care. Sad...

Anonymous said...

I have asked for forgiveness more than 10 years ago to a person who claims to be Christian. But clearly he carries around bitterness which I cannot control. Yes, it is difficult to be harassed about something that occurred 15 years ago. Its exhausting. But I ask God to forgive me for harboring anger for his inability to let it go and try to have a real relationship, because we have to. I have to find my peace and he constantly disrupts my peace with his contempt.

pita said...

I stumbled across this when I received a note from my sister in law who I haven't spoken to for over 7 months. We have never had a great relationship but after the death of our brother in law and my mother in law was forced to move in with my husband and I the bottom totally fell out. She said and did many things that I just can't forget and have made the decision to not put myself through the hurt and pain any longer. This a.m. I received a note that said 'please forgive me for for anything I have said or done that was less than loving towards you.' She is a 'Christian' who goes to church each week. I put the 'Christian' in quotations because she's one of those that goes to church each week but during the week treats others kind of badly but like she told me once she goes to church each week so she's forgiven each week. Sorry but forgiveness can't be give when the person continues with what they need forgiving of. Some of what you say here applies to my situation.

'Don't expect forgiveness if you are still committing the offense. Offended people have good reason to continue the hostility if you do so. The first step of reconciliation must be the discontinuation of the offensive action. You can't build trust while you are violating it.'

Here's where I have to disagree with you.

'The Bible says that God will not forgive the person that will not forgive. This means that the unforgiving person may not be a believer. You should treat this person in that manner. This means he doesn't need to be rebuked. He needs Jesus.'

My sister in law is not a nice person. She's a mean spirited, back stabber who apologizes loudly and often but continues with her behavior. I put up with it for 29 years until I just couldn't take it anymore. Should I forgive her, again, knowing full well she'll just stab me in the back will smiling in my face? I think God understand the perdicament that those of us who can't forgive find ourselves in. You can only take so much before it starts sucking the life right out of you. I wish her and her family nothing but good things but I can't continue to allow her to hurt me and mine.

Prentis said...

Forgiveness and trust are two different things. I have to forgive for I have been forgiven myself so many times that I can't count. I, however, reserve trust for those who have earned it. That means that I do not place myself in a position of being hurt again until the person has regained my trust. The more offenses the longer time it takes to regain my trust.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this article. I've been depressed because another person won't forgive me and I think won't forgive me forever.

Christiangirl177 said...

Thank you for this wonderful and timely article. I just passed this on to a friend who had suffered unforgiveness from a former pastor and friend. My friend was willing to be reconciled with this pastor, but the pastor chose to end the friendship, asking my firend not to contact her at all.

When we choose not to forgive, I believe that we close the door to GOD's blessings in our lives, because we block the flow of His Spirit in our lives. It's like a person whose arteries a clogged with bad cholesterol and other things. We need to have our spiritual heart and arteries cleared of unforgiveness, so that we can receive all that GOD gives us, so that we can be a blessing to others.

chuck said...

Thanks for this article. It helped me out at just the right time. I am having such a hard time with a friend of mine who won't forgive me for something and now has held me at arms length for over two years because of it. I need to give her up to God and let it go and try not to be bitter. I also wanted to offer up a book suggestion: "The Peace Maker" by Ken Sande. It's a wonderful book about Christian reconciliation.

Sherry said...

Your article has helped me so much. I've a christain all my life and thought I had passed on those beliefs to my son and daughter. Our daughter is and always has been a christain too. Our son married an proclaimed atheist and she has been very mean to us. Our son won't talk to us and cannot or won't see what she has done. They wont answer phone calls(blocked), answer emails. They won't let us contact our grandchildren in any manner. We are near 70, were both very ill this summer and in the hospital many times. Our son wouldn't believe his sister when she told him how sick we were. I've asked for their forgiveness for anything we've done that has caused dil actions. This has been going on since they were married, but has been bad for the last 4 years because he will not talk to us. It just breaks our hearts because we were very closely knitted before he married her. Didn't know her long, only about 6 months before marriage. For the first 6 years weren't invited to any celebrations with their children. Now I'm afraid I will pass without seeing him or our grandchildren. This article has helped me understand forgiveness better, I think I need to constantly refer to it. I don't see any change ever in the situation. We pray constantly for the situation to mend.

Prentis said...

Sherry, I stopped and prayed for you as well. God longs to fellowship with your son. He not only understands your pain but feels the same pain for your son is His child who has been captured and kept from Him. God seeks to bring your son home and to save your daughter-in-law.

Anonymous said...

I had a friend for over eight years, his daughter and my son were best friends. He was divorced and the daughter's mother needed to make changes in a parenting plan/custody hearing. Due to the fact that I cared for their daughter, I was asked by the court to answer questions, this was not the first time I had been deposed but this time my friend flew off the handle and threatened me to the point that I had to call the police and go to court. It was and it very painful. I have tried to calm the storm, pray and even apologize if he did not agree with my answers, but I did not lie and he knows this but is angry by the mere fact that I even answered the questions. He said I should have told them no! This was impossible. He was one of my dearest friends and now he hates me and won't let his daughter come near us. I continue to pray for blessings upon his family and peace upon his heart. Thank you for listening...- Jewels

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article. My husband and I are going through a very painful divorce. My husband still has feeling for me, but will not forgive me for the way I acted after the separation. I was wrong and I did gossip too much about my husband. I am truly sorry for what I did to him. I pray that he will forgive me someday. I pray that we can reconcile before the divorce is final.

Prentis said...

Unfortunately, people fail to realize that what a moment of hurt and anger does not reveal the true nature of an individual. A failure to forgive often reflects the life of one who has trouble being forgiven. Somehow we believe that denying forgiveness will lessen our own unforgiveness. Most of the time we just can't accept forgiveness for what we have done. Therefore, we hold onto our sins rather than lose them in forgiveness. This enables people to deny forgiveness for they do not know it for themselves. I pray that your husband will be broken by God to realize that he is forgiven and needs to forgive you as well.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate this post so much. Five years ago, I had a problem with a close friend. My child was bullied by their child. There has been so much rejection and hurt. Often, there is a shunning behavior, and usually it is when we are in church. I have written and asked for forgiveness for all pain I may have caused them. I feel that no forgiveness is possible judging from the response and vibes when I have seen them in church. Our pastor has said that the worst thing you can do to someone is ignore them. I think that has been one of the most painful parts to this, is the shunning. I just can't believe that anything I did ever deserved years of shunning. I do my best to pray blessings on this family and to give it over to the Lord. I have read that shunning or giving the cold shoulder is a form of bullying. So I do pray and ask the Lord to forgive me for my part and to forgive them "for they know not what they do". IT is helpful to know that someone understands this pain and grief. Our Lord didn't deserve the treatment He received either. He knows our grief and pain. He will make all things new in His own time. Thanks for listening. Amen.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the article, my son who confesses to be a Christian refuses to speak to me. I have apologized and ask forgiveness, and offered to work on the relationship. He however, ignores it all. I will try to digest your advice and find peace in it all.
Sad.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this article. I am struggling with these issues because I don't believe I was aware of what I did to my step grand-daugter. My mom had a stroke last year and my father died a few moths later. My husband and I went on a vacation that I had to time with work and not to lose the money. We missed a high school graduation and I didn't know we had planned it at the same time. My husband's daugher and the two grand daughters will not speak to me and it is so painful. I have been there for them and part of the family. and I am having a hard time not wanting my husband or someone to "take up my side". I will pray...Thank you again

Shante said...

Hi, I have said some hurthful things to someone and this person has ADD. I was hurt by him and in retaliation I criticised him for his disorder and said some very hurtful stuff. I forgave him for hurting me and some disappointments, but he has not and says he will not forgive me. I feel so hurt and my heart aches knowing that I could have left a emotional scar on him. Please pray for me and for him.-Shante

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I googled web pages on the subject of forgiveness because I have recently apologised to someone and was not forgiven. So I'm trying to figure out how to be free of emotional pains even if I don't receive someone's forgiveness.

Anonymous said...

I too have a spouse who has not forgiven me, I found your article extremely helpful and encouraging. It has reaffirmed that even though my husband is not at a place to forgive, my savior has forgiven me. It frees me to pray for my husband without resentment, and to place my hurt in Gods hands. Pls keep us in prayer. God bless you for posting this article.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this article. It has helped me see my situation differently. I have an uncle who is a pastor and he has not spoken to me for 6 years because of a terrible mistake I made. I pray all the time that he will someday find it in his heart to forgive me and we can heal our family.

Anonymous said...

What is the proper way of forgiving someone who has been a spiritually abusive, self-proclaimed, scripture twisting prophet, who hates authority, is divisive, legalistic and judaizing. I think that I have forgiven the person, but I avoid reconcilliation out of fear of being lead astray again. Is it wrong to not be seeking reconcilliation. Is it judgmental to see the person as a false prophet who needs to be avoided, instead of seeing them as a brother or sister in Christ?

Prentis said...

Love desires to have the relationship at peace. Peace is always a two way street. Forgiveness is not holding what the person has done against them. It must be given for each new incident. Wrongs, however, destroy trust and continue to destroy trust. Trust is restored by the person who has lost it. Trust comes from faithfulness and time. Love wants that trust to be restored. The person wronged would like to see it because of love. The person doing the wrong wants to re-establish trust for the same reason.
It sounds to me like you are forgiving but not trusting. How can trust be established without trustworthiness? Your love gives forgiveness. It desires rebuilding trust but, unfortunately, that ball is in the other person's court.

Anonymous said...

thank you... i needed this tonight... i was in a ministry... and funds got misused... and yes i was part of the misuse since i was the treasurer... i have taken full responsibility for what i have done... the other team members only saw me to blame... and then stretched the truth to fit their own eyes... i forgive them for all of this... but they can not forgive me for my missteps... i know that God has thrown my sin as far as the east is to the west... yet tonight i see one of my former friends and ministers using facebook to bash me... of course... she didn't use my name... but i knew it was about me... it made me suicidal for a moment... because what good am i to the ministry if i'm being seen in such a light... and serving God is all i want... if i don't have our Lord... then i have nothing... so i searched for what to do when the other person won't forgive you... there is very little written about it... so with tears running down my face... thank you... i will continue to pray that God blesses them in all ways...

Prentis said...

I see God working in you. He will use this horrible experience for His glory. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this article. It was very helpful for me personally. I have been suffering badly from a falling out with someone who I thought was a very good friend and who's friendship meant a lot to me. About a year ago, (May of 2011) he decided that he did not want anything to do with me because I unknowingly did something that made him uncomfortable (which I said that I was very sorry for). He dumped me suddenly out of nowhere with no warning, I was very hurt because he blocked all my attempts to work things out. When I finally had the chance to ask him why, not only did he just point out the offense (rubbing my nose into it)(which I take total responsibility for), he also made a LOT of false assumptions and lies about me on top of it. Which naturally, made me even more hurt than ever and as a result, I told him that even though I was sorry for the offence that was actually true, the rest were lies and he knew it. I admit that the way I said it was NOT pretty because of the magnitude of hurt I had. Well, I decided to start praying for him, forgiving him and let it go and not say a word to him. Then, in November, I had a life threatening condition which prompted me to put things right; so, on Christmas day 2011, after several months of no contact, I emailed him, hoping that he cooled of and become civil, telling him once again that I was sorry and asking for his forgiveness. Well, later that night, he once again wrote a very nasty note back making up MORE lies about me and he even THREATENED me! :'( Sheesh!! I SAID I was sorry!! Apparently, I have heard a very hard lesson and that was that there are some people out there who will never forgive. So, since then, I continue to pray for him every morning hoping that someday he will know Jesus, that someday he will know forgiveness and that bridges will be built again.

Lisa said...

Please pray for me. I have been tormented and have even contemplated suicide over the pain I have suffered because my best friend refuses to forgive me and has shunned me despite numerous attempts I have made to apologize. In reading the comments from others, I have at least been comforted by the fact that I am not alone. For some reason, I just can't get over this; I feel so consumed by it. I have prayed about it so many times, yet I have not gained any peace or relief.

Prentis McGoldrick said...

Actually, you don't know the half of it. Many people send emails to me directly which I do not post on this blog. They tell me stories of those who fail to forgive them. Living in a state of unforgiveness causes these people tremendous emotional stress. But remember, forgiveness is a gift. You cannot force anyone to give a gift. It is not a gift if it has been coerced. Thus, it is also not forgiveness.
Also, remember that you cannot do any more than confess and ask for forgiveness. It becomes the responsibility of the one who has been hurt after that. They are holding their hurt to their own hearts. Pray for them to release their pain.

Anonymous said...

Forgiveness is one of those things that we expect to come so easily because we feel such sorrow for our action. I do not understand how one can be so unforgiving. Not only am I dealing with someone who doesn't forgive me, but also does not believe me. I have forgave this person more than many times and have full trust in them. It's like they have no heart. They become brutal. I cry for so long that I try to smile it off with the tears running down my eyes. I try to think positive. It is extremely difficult to understand why. I understand them, but this is too much. Maybe I should choose the wise decision of calming down. I should relax and just wait.

Koi girl said...

Thank you so much for this article. My brother married a woman 10 years ago who has been nothing but cruel and petty to my mother. My dad passed away almost nine years ago now, so my mom, who is a sweet and generous Christian woman, has been struggling on her own, and doing well for the most part. My husband and mom and I have been very patient with her over the years, but last holiday season I snapped. She and my brother are constantly asking my mother for large sums of money to make ends meet, yet they won't allow her to buy her grandchildren any presents unless they are gifts that they have purchased, and then my mom reimburses them. The few times my mom has gone against their wishes and bought the kids soemthing little, she has been mercilessly berated and denied contact with the kids. Last Christmas I responded to a thoughtless remark by my brother via text by lsing my temper and telling him that I knew his wife didn't care for any of us. Well, my comment sparked a war and a barrage of hateful remarks by her. After a month or so had gone by, I wrote a letter apologizing for my insult made in the heat of the moment. My apology was not accepted. So, three more months (nearly) have gone by, and today i decided to try apologizing again. In all humbleness I contacted my sister in law and told her I was sorry for my hurtful remarks and hoped we could start on the road to reconciliation soon. She proceeded to accuse me of being insincere and refused to meet with me in person. i have spent most of the evening crying, wondering what i can do to make things better. I guess the answer is to keep praying for them. It would be so much easier if they had only wronged me, but I'm very protective of my mom, and I hate to see her so torn apart. Please pray for me to continue to have patience and to not only be forgiven but to forgive them their hurtful actions as well. God bless you.

Prentis McGoldrick said...

Sometimes people try to hold you accountable for their own failings. Thus, they refuse forgiveness thinking that it shows their indignation. Forgiveness always shows how big a person is. Think about Who has granted the most forgiveness. Is He not the greatest?
Just make sure that you forgive those who refuse to forgive you. You will be a greater person because of it.

Anne Bosworth said...

Wow...So many posts here to which I can relate. I had to read the one about the lady and her church leader friend several times to make sure I hadn't written it myself at some earlier time for whatever reason. —A sorrowful comfort knowing someone has suffered much the same grief. I hope her dear one who was unforgiving finally came back to reconcile and love her Christian sister. That would give me a measure of hope today.

To be honest, I do not quite understand what I'd said or done initially to cause the strife between my covenant mother/sister/friend in Christ and myself. She'd been struggling in some truly horrific grief for over 2 years, and it is quite possible that I stepped in an emotional land mine without having known it. I can only guess at what initially caused her withdrawal, and I can only plead for her forgiveness for the things I said in raw pain and frustration when she refused to speak to me.

I've been endeavoring for months to apologize for virtually everything I can think of that I might have done or said to hurt and/or anger her. Nothing. silence. And it has been such an awful struggle not to complain and get angry all over again.

I don't fault my dear one...though I remain devastatingly confused. I know that her personal grief is so profound and such a horrible companion. I know she is exhausted and hurting and confused herself. So I keep praying and praying and praying and praying for God to help her with many things including forgiving me, but mostly for her to have a very deep experience with Christ.

Please pray that her comfort in Christ will truly come and that one of the fruits of His nearness to her will be the softening of our hearts. How I ache for having hurt her. I love her dearly and beautifully. Hurting her would never be intentional. Father please stir in her to find you in her pain, and let me find her hand with Jesus hand so we can snatch our Godly, Holy, Sisterly love. Dear Jesus....PLEASE make a way for all of the forgiveness we need to be right with you and each other.

Prentis McGoldrick said...

I believe that complete forgiveness is based on the blood of Jesus. Thus, since God has accepted this payment I have no right to claim more. I must forgive. That means that everyone who claims to be a believer must also forgive.
But sometimes i have to say, "Lord, I do not have the strength to forgive so I forgive solely on the price you have paid. Please Lord grant me the forgiveness that You have already given to this person." I wish all believers would forgive everyone who has hurt them.
Yet, some things only come through prayer.

melh0711 said...

Amen this opened my eyes! I realize that I can still move forward in life because, God forgives me and I forgive myself. If someone does not forgive me, then that un-forgiveness is something that they to deal with. I believe that once you forgive yourself and God forgives you, you can move forward in life. Once the person who you hurt forgives you,they can move forward in life.

Anonymous said...

To the poster above. When a person continues to violate the trust, how do you expect for them to move on?? If you sleep with a married man, and then contuinue to do so, and keep asking God for forgiveness, maybe you should question your faith. The devil has been busy trying to destroy my marriage, instead of rebuking the peson that can't forgive, how about rebuking the jezebel that keeps coming in between the marriage.

Prentis McGoldrick said...

Forgiveness does not mean that an offender shouldn't be confronted. Forgiveness does not guarantee trust either. Trust is earned. Forgiveness is given.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this article. I am on the end of being someone who is not forgiven by others. I grew up in a very unstable home, and was emotionally abused by both my mother and father. As a result, I made a lot of stupid decisions in my teens and early twenties that affected those around me as well. Particularly my extended family, wish I never had a very close relationship with due to a 1200 miles distance between us until I was 15 years old. So all they know of me they heard from my mother, who has borderline personality disorder and always treated me as a scapegoat. add to that the fact that I spent most of my life closing my heart off to others with bitterness in anger and hatred...Plus, by the time I did move to where they live I was already into drugs stealing, promiscuity, lying, and all of the things that come with being misguided in my youth. I attempted suicide several times, got a loan with my grandmother which I never repaid, and took advantage of several family members. I have apologized for all of this, but maybe not enough? I am a Christian now and have been for 5 years, I am married to a wonderful man and have two beautiful children. still there are probably a dozen people who believe I will never change, who refused to forgive me, add to gossip about me constantly behind my back. They are all close relative some of which I see on a regular basis. They treat me as if I am the black sheep, which I guess I am. I often feel is if I should just cut myself off from the family completely which would really not be too big of a loss when I consider that my children may at some point here these horrible things that were said about their mother. so my question is this, if an entire group of people refuse to forgive you or see you for who you are now is it okay to turn your back on them even if they are family?

Anonymous said...

Sometimes one is left with no choice but to move on. As long as you know you did all you know to do, you don't need to have the other person's unwillingness to forgive on your conscience. Being a Christian doesn't mean life will be perfect, harmonious and everyone will "love" you. Let's face it, even despots can extract false forgiveness from people out of fear. If the forgiveness isn't genuine, then what's the point, really?

Anonymous said...

I've done a few things to people years ago that I deeply regret. I've asked for forgiveness and the young lady refuses contact in response to my email. What I did happened in high school. It is now 8 years later and she still hates my guts. I had best friends for years who I lied to, and became defensive and angry with them when they confronted me. We were all raised in the same church. In my defensive mode, I ended the friendship. It was the biggest mistake of my life. They were willing to forgive me, but I couldn't forgive myself. I couldn't live with myself knowing my best friends didn't trust me. I have since apologized and have been forgiven, but they won't accept me back. I pray they will one day.

Prentis McGoldrick said...

It appears that you are broken and repentant over what you have done. This part is good but please remember this: Who are you to refusorgivee the blood of Jesus as the payment for your sins? God forgives you for what you have done because of the payment of the blood of Jesus. So, not forgiving yourself is refusing Jesus blood as payment. You are saying that you have a higher standard than God. You are forgiven. This is the reason we cannot refuse to forgive others or ourselves.

Prentis McGoldrick said...

It appears that you are broken and repentant over what you have done. This part is good but please remember this: Who are you to refuse the blood of Jesus as the payment for your sins? God forgives you for what you have done because of the payment of the blood of Jesus. So, not forgiving yourself is refusing Jesus blood as payment. You are saying that you have a higher standard than God. You are forgiven. This is the reason we cannot refuse to forgive others or ourselves.

Anonymous said...

I sadly done something stupid that caused someone I cared about to no longer speak with me, I tried to speak with her, and all and the only thing I was able to do to show her how sincere I was, was to buy her roses, I don't know if she took them or trashed them. All I know is that I had to pray to god for my foolish mistakes and also asked god that someday she would forgive me so that we can work things out. Something I still believe in because I'm at a age now I'm getting older and I need someone special in my life now. To mess up like this is not good at all.

At most I will never repeat a mistake like that again.

Anonymous said...

What do I do when my daughter wont forgive my husband but she still wants a relationship with me. It hurts my husband when she calls and wont aknowledge him or forgive him. I know I should put my husband first but I hurt at the thought of turning my back on my daughter. Im caught in the middle cause i also know shes wrong for not forgiving but I know shes been hurt by my husbands words.

Prentis McGoldrick said...

Has your husband asked your daughter for forgiveness? That should not be the requirement for forgiveness but it is often the cornerstone for establishing trust. It may be that your daughter is afraid of speaking to her father because she thinks he may say other hurtful words. She avoids him and, thus, avoids the potential pain.

Anonymous said...

I know you posted this a while ago but I am so grateful and thankful that you wrote this. It's exactly what I needed to hear. I'm a chaplain with an interfaith order and I very recently experienced this issue with a stranger I apparently interacted with in some capacity. They contacted me via a profanity laced email without telling me what I've done, when I did it, etc. I prayed for forgiveness then sent them a reply sincerely asking their forgiveness. I got a response with a healthy four letter word or two. I replied that I hope that they will someday find it in their heart to forgive me and that I will keep them in my prayers. I have in the meantime blocked their email (nobody should have to put up with profanity like that). God has given me the peace of mind that I've done the right thing and I'm moving on, chastened, with lessons learned.
Peace Be With You.

Anonymous said...

I am a very non-confrontational person who has recently found myself in this non- forgiveness situation. I have a church friend who was offended by some advice I gave her. I have written a heartfelt apology letter and she has not responded to it. I was offering an olive branch to her by writing the letter because I really don't feel like I did anything wrong to begin with. It is so uncomfortable at church when I see her. I have been praying a lot for her and don't know what else to do.

Ashley Day said...

thank you so much! God has not healed a relationship with my husbands family even with us admitting and apologizing for our part in the problem for 7 years. they still don't speak to us and have not admitted the wrong but it doesn't matter because we are free through forgiveness!

Anonymous said...

Very inspirational blog about forgiveness..I have been reading blogs about forgiveness and your blog caught me internally..I will just pray for those who cant forgive me to have peace in their mind as well as in their hearts..I Stopped answering all arrogant messages i received and tolerating it will bring more troubles..I lift up everything that i feel to God, may His power bring luck to those person who consider me as their enemy now and in the perfect time they will forgive and i will be forgiven..thank you for this article, its really help a lot God bless

Shawn said...

Hello, I am currently going through a hard time, I have hurt my girlfriend by talking with another girl online about meeting and hanging out. I stopped myself before taking any action, because i realized i was wrong ,and it's not what I want. The other girl just recently sent the texts to my girlfriend and devastated my girlfriend and has now turned me into an enemy. My girlfriend constantly says she will not forgive me and sends me hateful text messages. What's so painful is that I still love her, and I have always forgiven her when she has hurt me in the past of our relationship. I ask for your prayers that my girlfriend will find in her heart, the love of God and the importance of forgiveness. I am currently giving her space and praying for her that God works with her, and heals our situation over time. So please please please, say a prayer for me and for her, though you don't know us, but as brothers and sisters in Christ. If there is any advice you can give me, please, I am all ears. Thank you.

Carl Knowlan said...

This helped me. I lashed back and was rebuked. I excercised humility and asked for mercy and forgiveness, but was given a double dose of hatred back. Intuitively, I knew to pray for my forgiveness for my transgression and help for the folks who were so mean after I offered peace.

Anonymous said...

Exactly what I needed to read. Was very rude to someone online and have sent an email apologizing. I am very ashamed of how I acted and told her so. So far I have not heard back (have no other way of reaching her). I have apologized and I have asked God to forgive me. I guess I needed to see somewhere that I have done all I can do at this point. If she chooses to forgive or not is up to her.