The Lies That Trap Us In Unforgiveness

I did not want to forgive her.

The email she sent was cruel and full of unfair accusations and assumptions. We’d been friends through thick and thin, and her response felt like betrayal. It completely caught me off guard. And as resentment took hold, I decided right then and there our friendship was over.

How could she say such things?

Chances are you can recall a time when someone deeply angered or offended you through their heartless words or careless actions. Maybe you saw it coming, or maybe it absolutely blindsided you. It might have been intentional or accidental. Regardless, the last thing you wanted to do was offer forgiveness.

You felt completely justified holding on to the hurt.

Sometimes forgiving feels too big because the offense was even bigger. We decide they don’t deserve a get-out-of-jail-free card. And if we’re totally honest, we’d admit to wanting them to pay for their transgressions. We think, “Why should we forgive and let them off the hook?”

Am I the only one?

We live in a world full of mean people, which means there are plenty of opportunities to be hurt. It’s hard enough when a stranger is nasty, but often our greatest hurts are courtesy of our own family and friends. Those are the worst kinds of hurts. I’m so sorry.

And because they hit so close to home—so close to our heart—we hold on to their unkindness even tighter. We build bricks with our pain and wall ourselves off in an effort to preserve and protect our hemorrhaging self-esteem.

Sometimes it just feels safer that way. I totally get it.

But holding on to unforgiveness hurts you, not them. Your stick-it-to-them strategies really stick-it-to-you instead. And rather than live in freedom, you live offended. You become miserable, and end-up adopting a victim-mentality.

It’s this poor-me kind of thinking that steals joy and hinders your ability to be the woman God created you to be.

The Lord wants us to love the unlovable by forgiving the unforgivable. The two work together in a supernatural way.

Ephesians 4:32 tells us “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ.

You see… because God has forgiven our sins, He expects us to extend the same kind of grace.  

So how can we effectively love when we refuse to forgive? We can’t.

Unforgiveness clogs your heart. So while you may think harboring anger and hate is hurting the one who hurt you, the truth is that unforgiveness hurts you the very most. It hardens your heart, preoccupies your thoughts, and gives the Enemy a stronghold in your life.

And chances are, you’re justifying unforgiveness based on one of these lies:

Lie #1: Forgiving lets them off the hook.

Giving grace doesn’t mean you’re excusing that person for their offenses. It doesn’t even mean you’re completely over what they’ve done. It simply means you’re not going to let it consume you anymore.

Lie #2: They have to apologize first.

What if you’ve lost contact with them, or the offender was a stranger? What if they’ve died? What if they don’t even know they’ve hurt you? Waiting for someone to own their actions and words is a worthy hope… but an unrealistic expectation.

Lie #3: Forgiving means forgetting.

That’s something only God is capable of doing. Seriously. Remembering a hurt doesn’t necessarily mean you’re holding a grudge. It could just mean you’re a human with memories. And often, it’s those memories that warn you of danger or protect you from further heartache.

So how can you extend forgiveness when it’s the last thing you want to do?

1)    Ask God to expose the lie(s) keeping you from releasing their offense.

2)    Ask God to forgive your sin of unforgiveness.

3)    Ask God for supernatural strength and divine perspective so you can forgive and be free.

I eventually forgave my friend. It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary. As leaders, we cannot afford to let unforgiveness find a home in our heart. It will hinder our ability to be who God has called us to be.

So friends, let’s choose to be women who love well… and forgive fast.

Yes, let’s be just like that.

Carey Scott

Carey Scott is an author, speaker, and life coach, honest about her walk with the Lord…stumbles, fumbles and all. She is the author of Untangled, a book where she bravely shares her story of abuse, the insecurities birthed from it, and offers practical advice on how to live in freedom. Carey lives in Northern Colorado with her family. Learn more at CareyScott.org. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Join the discussion

Katie Vogel April 26, 2017 at 8:55am

Wow! Thank you for leading me through this tonight. This was divine. All day my emotions have been increasingly choking me. Why do I feel so weak? Why am I feeling like these offenses are happening all over again? Yuck. I have not allowed myself to give in and it has caused me to have a tension headache. So, I did, in fact, ask God to expose the lie. I feel worthless due to multiple people who have rejected and neglected. Now that I have pinpointed the lie I am immediately free from it! Thank you so much for helping me with this tonight! Wow!

Rene April 11, 2017 at 5:10am

I literally just got off the phone with a friend saying this is exactly what I need to do! There's some unforgiveness in my heart that I need to let go of! I told her of a song I remembered years ago she put it up the heart of the matter but I think it's about forgiveness! Thank you so much for this! I have asked because of this blog I have asked His forgiveness of my unforgiveness, because of my illness. I will keep seeking that and asking Him to help me give me & receive His supernatural strength because that is so important to me and to Him!!! The blog did hit the nail on the head and only hurts us not the other people!!! Their moving on with their life! We need to free our hearts and move on with our own and we can only do that with forgiveness! Thank you so much for your honesty!!💕

Lyn April 8, 2017 at 2:13am

I get confused in this area.
I forgive over and over but that same person I forgive keeps on doing even after explaining why it hurts me.
Tried different paths to ease the conflict
Forgive then to only be in the same predicament. Can someone explain

Susan Gruener March 20, 2017 at 7:23am

Thanks for this Carrie! There isn't a one of us who will have to forgive someone in their lifetime, and for many of us, we will have to forgive over and over again...
This is one of the best articles I have read on how and why to forgive.
Well done! I will refer back to this over and over again I am sure.
Blessings to you!

Elizabeth March 14, 2017 at 12:30pm

Thank you. I have recently had to walk through & am continuing to walk through one of the most difficult & painful experiences of my almost 45 yrs of life. Every week I am having to work & walk into the very place where I have been hurt & betrayed the most. Through this experience God is giving me the strength to walk in forgiveness daily.
It is reminders like this from Propel that are helping me to walk in his strength each & every day. God bless you Carey

Angel Ash March 12, 2017 at 10:53pm

Excellent article! And hit the nail on the head! Love it so helpful and true. I believe sometimes those lies hold us up from the freedom we can walk in with forgiveness. Thank you for writing.

Brittnie March 12, 2017 at 5:03am

Thank you for this! The Lord led me to this right when he knew I needed it! Praise him for always seeing to my needs!

Nachelle March 12, 2017 at 2:09am

Forgiveness can be so hard to give and at times to receive, but I thank God for his grace! I love how it says forgiving doesn't mean you forget... All the hurt I have endured is part of my story. It's what has made me stronger! Thank you Jesus!