Problem with Forgiveness

Hello, I’m having trouble understanding what it truly means to forgive someone. I say “I have for given x for x” but then I still feel hurt by them and talk badly about them and what they did/continue to do.

How can I forgive, especially when they are still hurting me?

What is forgiveness?

A priest I trust very much has said, If you want to forgive, you have already forgiven.

Forgiveness does not require that all of the hurt goes away. Normally it doesn’t. Nor does it mean we necessarily act as though no hurt took place.



A very wise priest when I was struggling with this about a year ago pointed me to this. It is taken from the Catechism of Trent. It provided comfort and solace. I pray that it will do the same for you.

This is taken from the area where it was talking about the Lord’s prayer particularaly the petition of “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”

But in this matter no ordinary prudence is required on the part of the pastor, lest, knowing the difficulty and necessity of this precept, anyone despair of salvation.

You see I was concerned because I wanted to forgive the people with all my heart, but my heart was still bitter. I was wondering becuase I had unforgiveness in my life did this make it to where I was sinning and I did despair because I thought that I could not partake of the Sacrament of Reconcilliation with the unforgivness in my heart. [NOTE: I wanted to forgive with all my heart and let go of my nonforgiveness of the person involved.]


There are those who, aware that they ought to bury injuries in voluntary oblivion and ought to love those that injure them, desire to do so, and do so as far as they are able, but feel that they cannot efface from their mind all recollections of injuries. For there lurk in the mind some remains of private grudge, in consequence of which such persons are disturbed by misgivings of conscience, fearing that they have not in simplicity and frankness laid aside ther enmities and consequently do not obey the command of God.

Here, therefore, the pastor should explain the contrary desires of the flesh and of the spirit; that the former is prone to revenge, the latter ready to pardon; that hence a continual struggle and conflict goes on between them. Wherefore he should point out that although the appetites of corrupt nature are ever opposing and rebelling against reason, we are not on this account to be uneasy regarding salvation, provided the spirit persevere in the duty and disposition of forgiving injuires and of loving our neighbor.

This gave me so much comfort and still does. In fact there are times where I realize that I am still angry with the people that have wronged me, and I pull this out.

How does one forgive another? Pray for the grace of forgiveness. It is a grace to be able to do so. I wish that I could say that I have attained it, but I have not. I am still struggling to do this. I will pray for you, please pray for me as well.

Focus not on what they are doing to hurt you. Look to Jesus on the Cross instead. Yes I know that this is easy to say, but so very hard to do. It’s not easy for sure, it is a hard, hard, road. But it is a road that is so worth taking.

Someone once said of forgiveness, when one forgives one releases a prisoner, and that prisoner is you. Unforgiveness is a self-affliction, but it can be overcome. Think of Jesus on the Cross.

Just the other day a person who has wronged me much said something to me. I got angry, really angry. I had to go to my room and grab my chotki rope and say on each bead, Father forgive me for being angry, please help me to forgive them as you have forgiven me. Please give me the grace. After a time, I felt better and more at peace.

God bless.

To forgive a wrong is against our natural instinct which is more in accord with “lex talionis” i.e an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
We tend to hold grudges.
The Bible, however tells us to forgive.
This is not something we are able to do on our own. Forgiveness is a supernatural gift. God wants us to “choose” to forgive. Choosing is an act of will on our part, and He has given us a free will. Once we have made that first step, we leave the healing to Him. Praying for the other party also helps.

The important thing to understand about forgiveness is to also understand what forgiveness is not. Forgiveness is not the same thing as reconciliation (there may be reconciliation, but that’s a completely separate thing. Forgiveness is as much (maybe even more so) about the wronged person than the wrong-doer.

When a person wrongs another, the wronged person gains a “right” to retribution (i.e. lex talionis); by forgiving, the wronged party explicitly renounces that “right” and opens the door for the wrongdoer to make a new start. However, as the wronged party, you are not required to remain in a relationship/contact with the wrongdoer. It’s entirely legitimate to say that you have forgiven someone (that you no longer desire retribution against that person), but that you do not wish to have a further relationship. What you are doing in forgiving is removing anger and bitterness from yourself regarding the wrongdoer, choosing not to give that person “free rent space” in your head. In other words, you are making the choice to not dwell on the wrongs you suffered, but to look forward to a new future.

As far as the wrongdoer–well, he can choose to accept the forgiveness (in which case he would respond with contrition and a recognition of what he had done to harm the wronged party) or he can choose not to accept the forgiveness (in which case he will likely continue on the same path of wrong-doing). The wrongdoer’s choice does not impact the forgiver’s action.

This does not mean that in forgiving one must continue to offer oneself up for continued hurt (thus why I say that reconciliation is a completely separate step which must be preceded by forgiveness by the wronged party and contrition by the wrongdoer). If the wrongdoer continues to act in a harmful way, it is legitimate to cease contact–choosing to have no direct relationship with that person does not mean that you have not forgiven that person, it simply means that the door to reconcilation is closed at this time (but closed by the wrongdoer–think of those doors in hotel rooms where the rooms could adjoin and both rooms have a door–if I am in one room, I cannot enter the other unless the person in the other room opens the door also).

So in forgiveness, you make the deliberate choice (with your will) to no longer wish for retribution against the one who harmed you, pray for that person (but without telling him “I’m praying for you”), choose to not dwell on what the wrongdoer has done against you, choose not to talk to others about that person, and live your own life without anger, bitterness and hatred.

I’d write more, but I have to get ready for work right now. But trust me when I say that I know what it is to be deeply hurt by someone very close and with whom I now have no relationship (but I do have an order of protection against him).

Hi Paxvobis,

Forgiveness is something I struggle with. Actually until I understood what it really meant to forgive, it was something I was never able to do and thus was something that kind of kept me from faith altogether.

Forgiveness is an act of will, not an emotion. To say you forgive someone is simply to agree to discharge the debt of justice that they owe you. You may continue to feel hurt, angry, bitter, etc., toward them; you can’t help your feelings. You can, however, control your actions. To forgive someone that debt of justice means they literally owe you nothing any more – therefore, to continue speaking ill of them is to act unjustly toward them.

So, really, to forgive: make a conscious decision not to hold whatever they did against you, and then act accordingly. This does NOT necessarily imply that you must keep that person in your life, especially if they’re continuing whatever harmful action necessitated forgiveness in the first place. You can forgive someone without being reconciled to them.

Hope that helps.

This will help:

also get this book…I hear it is good…it should be back in stock next week (I saw it was out of stock so I contacted them)

It is good to forgive and expected of us. The part people forget is that we are also expected to leave the situation at the foot of the cross. Given to Jesus for that is what the cross is for, to take all sin, ALL SIN, and transgressions against our own lives in what ever for are sin, if it takes our livelihood away from us.


First, think of who you are, who you aspire to be? What is your picture of yourself? Is it an angry, bitter, vindictive person? Or is it an open, happy, joyful person? This is important.

Please read Melissa’s response. I’d like to expand a little on it without reiterating

Forgiveness is important, because as Melissa points out without forgiveness we retain anger, bitterness. It can change us. For example, you say you talk bad about the other person. Did you normally talk bad about others? Is that really who you are? More importantly, is that who you want to be? Is your inability to forgive changing you into someone you don’t want to be? Redefining who you are? And keeping you from enjoying your life right now?
Additionally, Melissa spoke of us forgiving another’s debt. Think about debts, if they are owed to you, then you need to keep track of the person who owes you money, if they’re cheapskates then you have to nag them for the money, if you expect and want justice then you have to go to greater lengths, first to get them to acknowledge the debt, then to get them to pay. And their actions start to control part of you, of your life. The more important the payment of the debt becomes, the greater focus you have on them. You continually consider, perhaps obsess over how the debt was incurred, how long ago, why it was incurred, you keep having to relive and contemplate it. Keep reliving that time. More of your life is handed over to them, dependent on their actions. When you forgive the debt, all of that is gone. If you stop expecting payment, you release not just them from the debt, but yourself from it’s control and affect on you. It no longer binds you to them. It allows you to move on from them and reliving that pain. To put them in the past and regain total control over your life. And spiritually, put your focus on God and choose to be the person you want to be. Now, with a clean slate you can contemplate reconciliation, what Melissa referred to as the next step.

Is continued exposure to this person damaging to your spiritual life? Then reconciliation is out of the question. Christ said He came to divide, not unite. Brother against brother, mother against daughter etc, which indicates we may be separated from some very important people in our lives. He also spoke of our obligation to correct our brother, first in private, than with witnesses and ultimately with the Church-- treating those who won’t listen as an ancient Jew would have treated a tax-collector or leper. He said to love even our enemies, but that didn’t exclude separation from them. So, than what is Christian love? I agree with those above who said, pray for their souls, wish them no harm.

Obviously, it’s harder to do with larger debts than small. I will pray that you will be able to attain that ability to truly forgive that you seek in your heart.

For many, forgiveness is a difficult virtue to master. When we learn the power and wisdom of forgiveness, we are bound to have reached an advanced level of spiritual maturity. Regardless the nature of any possible abuse that we may have endured, nor the severity of that abuse, full recovery from abuse cannot be achieved until we truly forgive our abuser(s). Any anger or resentment we hold within us, live and thrive within us, and become a part of our very self. We will never rid ourselves of this anger and resentment until we experience true forgiveness towards all. Seeing our tormentors suffer a thousand times over will only add to our own misery.

On the other hand, to endure unnecessary torment and misery is never righteous, but a perversion.  Also, the righteousness of forgiveness should never involve our condoning abuse or any other forms of evil.

True forgiveness requires our valuing peace and love above all else.  Experiencing forgiveness towards those who have wronged us resembles perfect love more so than perhaps any other human experience.  Forgiveness involves recognizing and valuing the potential for love that exists within every human soul, including our own soul.  Sins cannot be completely forgiven until we forgive, and find an inner peace with, everyone who has ever wronged us;  for every ounce of anger and resentment that we hold against any other(s), there will surely exist an ounce of sin held against us -- for harboring anger and resentment within our self is sin.

The Golden Rule states, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you!"  Our forgiving everyone, especially those we consider our enemies or adversaries, is to demonstrate to God that we are worthy of His forgiveness.  Likewise, to find love for all our enemies and adversaries is to demonstrate to God that we have suffered long enough with our hatred, and we are ready to receive His love.

Again, to experience the true power and wisdom contained within the virtue of forgiveness is to develop great spiritual growth!

When I have a forgiveness to work through, I go before the blessed sacrament and pray for that person. That always helps. Sometimes, I have to go back at a later time, and pray for them again. One time, I didn’t know if could do it, so I asked the Lord to do the forgiving for me. Keep praying for them, and you will get there.

Thanks everybody for the great advise! :thumbsup:

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