Do you "have" to forgive if the person you're forgiving isn't sorry?


My Mom and I have had a lot of problems over the past year, arguments and she’s even struck me.

I’ve asked her to apologize to me because at times I’ve dwelled a lot over some things she’s done to me but she never has apologized even once for hitting me.
Things are okay now, but I still get really bothered at times over some things she’s done to me and said to me.

I fight many battles with Depression and that’s part of the reason I’m sure that I dwell over the past, many things in the past not just with my mother.

Any advice?
Sometimes I really feel like I hate her and other people in my life but I know that I truly don’t, I just hate what they’ve done to me and the ones I love.


Yes, you are called to forgive even if the person isn’t sorry for what they’ve done. That’s what is so hard about doing it, it requires a lot of sacrifice but it can be done.

Also, since it is your mother, the Commandments state that you should honor your mother and you father no matter how mean, ugly, or abusive they may treat you.

No one said it was easy. Goodluck.


Yes you have to forgive somebody regardless of whether they are sorry or not. In fact you have to forgive them even if they have offended you greater than you offended them. You don’t forgive people for their sake, you forgive people for your sake, that is it lets you get rid of the resentments you have towards them.


Thanks for your response. I really want to forgive her, I’m sincere about it but it just feels difficult. It feels very difficult to forgive someone that’s caused you so much pain and damage.
Thank you for you’re input


Then forgive her. I read Fr. Serpa’s response to a question similar to this and he stated that feelings or emotions are natural and apart of being human. It doesn’t mean that negativity is what you deliberately wish on someone, but rather a reaction of an action.


You really do need to “forgive” your mother. It is difficult, I know, because I have been there, and have done it. It took me more than 15 years to do it. I won’t go into details, but it involves several people in my family…

If you don’t literally “forgive” the wrongs, it will end up eating you alive and find that despite your strongest feelings to the opposite, those that you do not forgive will have a greater hold on your heart and soul than you can imagine.

While we are called to forgive, nowhere does it say that we are to “forget” the past. Forgetting what has transpired in the past will only permit repeats of history. While you forgive, you do not forget…and the reason not to forget is to prevent “repeating” the past.

I might suggest that you get your hands on the book called “The Shack” and read it…:slight_smile:

I might also suggest that if you suffer from depression, that you see a doctor about it. Its nothing to be ashamed of… Depression is a chemical imbalance that is treatable… Here is some information about it:



Yes you need to but I do not think it is hard. For me it is very easy. I might have been blessed though with that gift I realize that. If somebody wrongs me, it doesnt phase me at all, I hold no ill will to that person because I have wronged people, even people I do not know I have. When you realize you are no better than them. You can forgive them very easily. Have I been walked on and used? Yes but I was serving them like I would like to be served. One boss hurt me a lot but I kept being nice and always tried to fulfill his demands. He is now very nice to me and not nearly as demanding in patiens. I never really met a black hearted person that can not be changed through service, though once again I may be blessed.


It certainly can be tough - especially when it’s a loved one who hurts you.

Take it to prayer in Christ - having been beaten and mocked during His passion He surely knows what you are going through. Offer up your feelings of resentment to Him, and ask for the gift of His own insight into human nature which enabled Him to forgive.

‘Forgive them for they know not what they do …’. It’s a pretty profound saying to ponder on. I find it difficult to believe that most parents, even the most abusive, have any genuine intent of seriously hurting, even slightly, their children. They just don’t know any better.

Lord knows often enough I’ve hurt my loved ones through my pride, anger, selfishness and what have you. Rarely if ever did I have the actual intention of doing so. 99.9% of those times if I’d either realised I was genuinely hurting them or seen any way of doing things differently I would’ve changed my behaviour in a heartbeat.



I’ve been in your situation all of my life and I know how hard it is to let go, when you’re pretty sure that your mom will never stop antagonizing you. For me, it’s not even the past so much as knowing the future is probably going to be more of the same.

Many Christians I’ve asked have said that I need to bend over backwards in submission to my mother, to follow Christ’s example of turning the other cheek, even that “nobody in your family will ever be saved if they see you, a Christian, setting boundaries with your mother.”

Finally one day, when I was praying desperately to God, He answered, “Love your enemy.”

I never considered my mother an enemy-- didn’t that imply that I hated her or wished her ill? No. Just that she wished me ill! And the command is the same, to love her.
But I disagree that honoring my mother means letting her abuse me emotionally (I’m too big for her to slap around, now!).

So now I say things like, I will have positive loving conversations with you but if they deteriorate, I will hang up. So in retaliation she lies about me, and it hurts, but at least I have not cooperated with being mistreated.

For what it’s worth. If people disagree with me, then by all means they should say so. I don’t want to be a bad influence!


Not forgiving leads to resentment and bitterness. It is "like taking poison and expecting the other person to die."
The Our Father says “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Our forgiveness is not dependent on the behavior of the other person. Our forgiveness does affect our own attitude toward that person. This attitude adjustment in turn affects our behavior making it possible to respond, rather than react to the situation in which we find ourselves.
Is it easy? Of course not. As the saying goes, “To err is human, to forgive divine.” On our own it is often impossible to forgive the person who has hurt us. This is where we ask for God’s grace to give us the necessary strength and courage, to forgive through us. This requires submitting ourselves to ourselves to God’s Will.
Scripture calls us to reconcile with the person who has a grievance against us (not the person against whom we have a grievance). This means we are called to take the first step when it comes to making up with the person we are arguing with, to bring the fighting to an end.
Forgiveness is not automatic. It is a process that may take time. It is worth the effort for your own mental and spiritual health. The only person you can change is yourself. The other person in seeing the changes and efforts you are willing to make may respond in time. Forgive from your heart instead of demanding forgiveness from somebody else, a forgiveness that is unlikely to be sincere…


My body is the temple of the Lord. Protecting this temple means not submitting to abuse. Indeed, Jesus told his disciples to "flee from persecution."
Many people think that forgiveness also means forgetting. That is not true. As I stated in my last post, forgiveness does allow us to “let go and let God,” as we listen to how He would have us respond to the situation. Responding allows us to step away from the situation, to find ways to defuse it while reaction “adds fire to fire” and gives the conflict power over us.
What I see in the painting of Jesus being stripped for his crucifixion is the dignity he maintained. He knew who He was and this could not be taken away from Him, either as God or as a human. We are children of God and nobody can take this from us.


If you’re referring to my post, that’s not what I said. What I said earlier was to honor your parents, weather or not they have or do abuse you, that isn’t an excuse to not honor them. No one said to TAKE the abuse, please do not. However, you should still honor them until the end no matter what they have done! (easier said than done, I know!)


If praying to be able to forgive isn’t working, pray for the willingness to forgive. It’s worked for me.

Another thing that helps me mightily is to pray for the “enemy” to be abundantly blessed. (Lk 6:28)

God bless you!



Hi everyone,
thanks for your input.
I have tried to make things better with my mom. It seems us not really talking about it is when things seem the best. I’m not quite sure.

My Mom is in a bad situation, as her and my dad have a miserable relationship, and she’s going through menopause.
However, I don’t see that as an excuse to treat everyone in her life the way she has.

I’ve tried to make things better to her by writing, etc and she’s even went to the point of mocking me over writing to her behind my back when she was angry.
I’m in a bind.

Thanks again everyone


CinnamonPetal, I want to cry when I read your posts. I also wish I could just give you the biggest hug. Your words could so easily be mine from about 40 years ago. I hugely empathise with where you are coming from.

Other posters have said forgiving someone is what you must do for yourself - absolutely.
Other posters have said you do not have to forget what has been said or done - sort of.
When you have a negative relationship with a parent you should not remember all they have said to hurt you, you will lug around a huge sack of hurtful things. But you must remember specific situations that have caused hurt, eg. you wrote to your Mom and she used your writing to hurt you, so do not write anything similar again.

Love your Mom, pray for her, and pray that you have the right words and attitudes to her, and pray for protection for yourself from her hurtful comments.

Cyber hug to you :hug3:


“LOve your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

It is really hard when it is someone who you would expect to be able to trust.

Re: Do you “have” to forgive if the person you’re forgiving isn’t sorry?

What did Jesus do? He prayed that His Father fogive those who crucified Him because “they know not what they do!”

The fact that your mother is being so uncharitable indicates to me that she is in need of much intercessory prayer.

The fact that you are not hating her but asking advice here indicates that even though you are hurt badly by her betrayal, you know you need to forgive her.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” God will forgive us to the measure that we forgive those who hurt us.

You really should be praying a Divine Mercy Chaplet for her every day because she is in danger of losing her salvation. Everything Jesus taught leads me to believe that lack of charity/love is a mortal sin.

I pray constantly that my mother, sister and niece as well as other members of my family will forgive my niece’s ex who has quite possibly sexually violated their children. every time I hear their animosity I fear for their eternal aslvation.

Love is always the answer. I have struggled with this as I come from a family that holds generational grudges. Where I find it hard to forgive I pray that God will give me the grace to forgive. And I keep praying until it happens.


Thanks for clarifying what I meant by forgive and forget. We do not want to hang on to hurts. We want to let go while not allowing ourselves to be drawn back into the situation that caused pain in the first place. Most of us learned not to touch hot pans by actually touching something hot. We learned to use hotpads.

Pray the Sincerity Prayer knowing that the only person you can change is yourself. You are not responsible for anybody else’s behavior.


If the person isn’t sorry for something and there is a clear and present risk that they will do you wrong again, that’s one thing.

But, in general, a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that to forgive means to condone, that to say “I forgive you” is the same as “What you did was O.K.” Which is certainly not the case.

Forgiving, you might say, is more for your benefit than for the benefit of the person you’re forgiving. All it means is you are going to move past it. You can’t undo the wrong someone did you no more than they could, by clining to it you will only cause yourself more bitterness and pain. If the person is not sorry, than they, I imagine, would not be feeling any sort of pain over what happened. By holding on to your resentment, the only one you are hurting is yourself. The best “revenge,” so to speak, is to become happy and have a good life.


IT takes two to fight, try to not be 1/2 of the fight.

Soften your heart and not only forgive, but pray for your mother.


Very true. My mother and I had a lot of rough spots. She was abusive to me as a child and we had an awful lot of fights in which I was not innocent. I had always hoped my mother would apologize to me. But one day, for no tremendous reason. I decided to apologize to her. And wouldn’t ya know it, I felt a lot better afterwards.

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