Forgiving others who hurt us may feel hard and uncomfortable. Sometimes we believe that forgiving others somehow erase our pain or makes what someone did “okay.” Forgiving others is a choice and one we get to walk out with God.
Forgiving others is Biblical. Therefore, let’s talk about what forgiveness, reconciliation, and boundaries, look like in this healing journey.
The full transcription of Forgiving Others When Your Heart is Still Hurting: Learn About the Power of Forgiveness and Keeping Your Boundaries with Charaia Callabrass is below.
Prayer for Forgiveness
Father, thank you for your mercy over my life. Thank you for showing me every step I need to take. Thank you for going before me and being my rear guard. I know I can come to you and work through the pain I feel in my heart in my pain. I can trust you with my life because you made me in your image. My heart is still hurting from the pain, but I know you have forgiven me, and I am now committing to forgiving others who have hurt me. I am not alone because you are always there, leading me with kindness and gentleness. Forgive me of any anger or pain I caused others in this process of healing. Thank you for showing me how to give my pain to you. I love you. In Jesus’ name, amen!
Forgiving Others Who Hurt You
Charaia it is an honor to be here with you today. We’re gonna be talking about harboring unforgiveness and you have so much thought-provoking wisdom around this topic. I don’t think many women realize how impactful it is in our bodies in our lives and our relationships when we carry unforgiveness.
So, can you talk about what unforgiveness looks like? What does forgiveness look like? How can we recognize when we aren’t forgiving?
Yeah, it’s easy to recognize when we’re not forgiving because we can feel it in our bodies. For me growing up in the church culture I grew up with an understanding of forgiveness that was very shallow.
And I found myself getting triggered again and again by certain things and realizing that there was still more forgiveness to be done. So, I don’t know if it’s necessarily that we are recognizing that we haven’t forgiven because it is a journey, it is a process, but recognizing when there is more to be forgiven.
It’s easy to bury the hatchet and have the handle sticking out and think that it’s done. But forgiveness is that process of getting to the point where we recognize that the handle is still sticking out. But we also must be willing to let God guide us in bearing that last piece. And again, it’s a journey.
So, my encouragement is for people is to take a moment to recognize not so much that they haven’t forgiven because that that can lead to a lot of shame, especially for people who come from faith context where they know that forgiveness is what God requires of us.
It can lead us to a place of shame where we’re doing it because we know it’s what we’re supposed to do and it’s not necessarily an overflow of our hearts or overflow of the healing that God has done in our lives. For those women, I would encourage you to ask the Lord, “I know that I’m willing to forgive, can You show me where I need to forgive even more? Where I need to release even more?” God will be faithful in leading us in that, but it is a process.
I am glad that you said “willing” because I was going to have you touch on that because getting to that part of forgiveness is the start of the process. I would love for you to address forgiveness versus trust. We sometimes correlate the two because trust must be rebuilt, even though forgiveness can be given.
Forgiving Others: Trust and Reconciliation
Yes for sure. I’m going to use the word “reconciliation” in terms of trust because that is the fruit of a relationship that has trust. When we talk about forgiveness, that is a one-person thing that is between me and the Lord. That is a decision that I can make without anybody else involved. That is a place that I can come to without anybody else involved.
There’s this “Christianese” thinking of forgive and forget, but that’s not Bible. When God says He forgets our sins, it’s not that He can’t remember them. So, when we forgive, we are forgiving over and over. When we commit ourselves to that, that is our job. Forgiving others is an ongoing process.
When it comes to trust, I always my go-to verse is 2 Corinthians 7 where it talks about Godly sorrow that leads to repentance and it breaks down what true repentance looks like. When we are looking to someone to reconcile a relationship, we need to see the fruit of repentance.
It looks like a complete change to prove that they are willing to pivot. For people that are desperate for reconciliation or wanting trust after they’ve decided to walk through forgiveness, I would encourage them to meditate and study 2 Corinthians 7 and be aware of the fruits of forgiveness. Be aware of Godly sorrow and earthly sorrow because it’s easy to for someone to say, “I’m so sorry that I hurt you.”
But repentance means sitting with them in the pain you’ve caused. That’s the fruit of someone who has Godly sorrow that has brought them to a place of repentance. That is a safe place for us, and it protects us. A lot of women are shamed into trusting people too quickly because they think that that’s what the Bible requires and what God requires of them.
But biblically, trust is restored through repentance; reconciliation is restored by way of repentance and there’s fruit to that. So that’s the difference – forgiveness isn’t a one-person thing. It’s me and God. When it comes to trust, both people must be willing to let God do what He wants to do in their life.
That’s gonna set a lot of women free. Because often we equate forgiveness with welcoming people back in their lives. But you said reconciliation takes two people – you can’t have reconciliation if the other person is not going through repentance sorrow.
I would love to even go further into this. What does it look when we’re entering back into these relationships to then begin to have boundaries, but still welcome connection?
The way that I approach boundaries is that I consider it fences. I look at it as my home – I have people that I let into my front yard, I have people that I let into my home, I have people that into my living room and people I let into my bedroom – the sacred Holies of Holies. Forgiving others requires us to set emotional boundaries for healing.
When you view boundaries not as this one wall that you must set repeatedly and more as levels to access to you, that gives you a little bit more freedom to have boundaries. For me, if I’m looking at someone that has harmed me and I want to maintain relationship because they’ve proven that reconciliation is possible with them, I would see how they operate with specific access to you.
Let somebody into your front yard and see what they do; see how they act how you feel. That doesn’t mean you’re cutting them off, it means that you have changed how much access that they have to you. That’s really empowering for both you and them.
It’s mercy for them because you’re saying, “I don’t want you to be in a place where you’re going to harm me again, so out of love for you I’m going to set this boundary because I want you to be your best self.” I’m going to set this boundary because I need to know if you are capable of not harming me with this specific access. So, I don’t like to view boundaries as hard walls even though they are hard lines.
I talk about a soft heart a lot and those boundaries are the hard line that we put down with the soft heart, so we’re still open to that person changing and we are still letting God give us hope for the best of that person.
It’s so true because you’re still welcoming that connection, but you’re not keeping people out because of past hurt.
I know a lot of women are probably thinking “How do I walk this out practically? How do I even begin to start this process? I can say it with my mouth that I forgive them, but how do I walk in faith through my actions and in this process of forgiveness?” What would you say to them?
I would say being willing to forgive (forgiving others) repeatedly and to really have grace with yourself. To understand that it is a journey and to approach it as a journey. The biggest hang up is we say we forgive someone and then something triggers us again. We’re humans. Pain and trauma leave a mark on us; it wounds us.
There are times when the person that’s hurt us hits a wound again and realize we need more healing; that we need to offer more forgiveness there. So, give yourself grace and run to the Father when that wound is brushed up against and hit or poked. And understand that pain is not evidence that no work has been done. A trigger is not proof that you haven’t made any progress.
You may not be harboring any unforgiveness, but your body may be holding more that needs to be given to the Lord. He’s also doing stuff with that relationship that you may not see.
So, following the peace of God when it comes to interacting with that person and having wisdom with how much you interact with them. Knowing what you can tolerate and understanding that because you limit your interactions doesn’t mean that you’re limiting how you’re loving your neighbor. So those are some practical things you can do because it is hard.
Forgiveness looks different even though it gives us similar outcomes. We get healing and freedom, but there’s so much nuance there. Give yourself over to God and the journey of forgiveness and know that it’s okay to take your time to get to that place of willingness. There may be people listening that aren’t even at that place where they’re willing to forgive and I hope that they know that God is with them even in that place where they’re not ready yet. He is willing to walk them through that, but that that place is valid – it’s valid it’s valid to be.
You said it so wonderfully about not giving up. Sometimes we think that in our walk with Christ is going to be so easy. Then when we get to hard life things, we think we’re not following the Lord. We get the impression forgiveness should be easy and when it’s not we question the point. It’s important to have grace and compassion for yourself and walking it out with the Lord about forgiving others.
Can you tell us about a time that you felt the Lord hit your heart hard on the topic of unforgiveness?
I honestly can say I remember a lot of moments. I do not forgive easily and I hold grudges. So, when I speak about this, I’m not speaking as a guru who has mastered this. I’m in the trenches with every single one of you because it’s hard. For me, I never experienced the totality of forgiveness without having to prove something. So, I struggle with that type of forgiveness. It seems like if I forgive them, they’re getting away with it. How is that supposed to make me feel?
Then I experienced a couple moments of the mercy of God on my own life. As a culture we are distancing ourselves from the mercy of God and that is why we’re seeing an increase of labeling difficult people “toxic.” That’s why we’re seeing an increase of isolating ourselves and cutting people off, because we have distanced ourselves from mercy in our understanding of the mercy that we are given.
It’s the realization that I am not perfect. I do things every single day that the Lord must forgive. I expect God to forgive me, and I sit underneath that forgiveness every single day. So, it’s not that I’m trying to make myself this non-human person or denounce my humanity.
But when God said, “Charaia, my mercy is for you. It’s not for you to hoard it and make you feel better about your shortcomings and your flaws. My mercy flows in you so that I can go through you so that you, out of the understanding of what I’ve done for you, can do to others.” And that’s the gospel of forgiveness – not that we in our own might are forgiving other people.
It’s not that we are wrestling and white knuckling to forgiveness. Faith is what motivates our understanding and belief in the revelation of what God has done for us. And that revelation is what we cling to every time it’s hard. When we have to forgive over and over again we don’t claim to our mind, we don’t cling to our resolve, we cling to the revelation of God’s mercy in our lives.
I am glad that you went there about the mercy of God on our lives and putting that back on forgiveness because I don’t think we think enough about reflecting on the things that we do to others, forgetting that we mess up for getting the way we say things wrong. We would want that mercy extended to us and we forget to extend mercy because of the mercy that the Lord has shown us.
As we wrap up, what would you tell the listeners about harboring unforgiveness and be able to process and walk that through?
God in His kindness is with you now. It’s the kindness of law of the Lord that will lead you to forgiveness. When you feel shame and condemnation try to attach itself to your desire to forgive, know that when God says to forgive it’s out of his goodness.
He is not going to leave us on our own with the things that He requires of us. Feel the kindness of the Lord on your decision and even if you’re at the place where you’re not quite willing or you are willing or you’re in the middle of it, know that the kindness of God is with you, and it is what’s guiding you through.
It’s a process, but it’s not impossible. There will be a day where you’re on the other side. There will be a day where that wound that you feel is not healing, has healed. And when you do this with God, you’ll be able to look back on that with joy and not regret, not only recalling the painful things, but knowing that God in His kindness is with you, and He is guiding you through forgiveness.
You don’t have to do it alone. Nobody expects you to do it alone. You don’t have to be any less human to receive the healing of God. God wants you to be fully who you are – all human. He knows who we are. So let Him meet you and let Him breathe into your forgiveness and your willingness.
Bible Verses About Healing and Forgiveness
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
For more verses on healing, go to my healing scriptures!