We were childhood friends, college roommates. We shared the carpool lane on our commute and were coworkers in ministry. We were best friends. At least I thought we were. I remember the last conversation we had. She needed space. I needed approval. She needed space. I demanded answers. That conversation was nearly fifteen years ago, and we haven’t talked since.
I’ve rehearsed that relationship over and over in my mind. What did I do wrong? What did I do right? What was her fault? What was mine? Her absence left a gaping wound, and the rejection left me raw and angry. I knew the only way forward was forgiveness. I knew I would never have answers that would soothe out the stabbing ache I felt.
Forgiveness was the way to freedom. It was the Christian thing to do. So I did. I pressed down the pain, pushed memories out of my mind, and committed, with my will, to move on. I prayed. I forgave. Now the task was to forget — right?
That was what I had been taught: forgive and forget. That was the loving thing to do. When people sinned against you, you forgave, let go, and moved on; you gave them another chance. But as I set out to find internal freedom from that broken friendship, I found it impossible to forget. Everywhere I went were fingerprints of what once had been, and the pain intensified. What felt beyond my control was the anger right there next to my forced prayer of I forgive her. I felt guilty that I couldn’t just “get over it.” I forgave like it was on my to-do checklist. I forgave in my own fortitude. I forgave because I wanted to be rid of my pain more than I wanted true wholeness. Wholeness, true redemption, true death and resurrection only come through relationship.
Our hearts bend and mold and are breathed back to life again through relationship. The sweet and tender relationship with Christ is required to bring about the full circle of forgiveness. Our shattered souls need the nurturing of the Holy Spirit to become whole again. In all of my attempts to forgive and forget, Jesus was inviting me to bring my brokenness back to Him. He wasn’t asking me to forget it but inviting me to revisit my pain. He was asking to be with me in it. Jesus was helping me forgive with patience and compassion. He wasn’t demanding I forgive but instead scooped me up from my devastation and held me safe inside of it.
Even years later, when remanence of pain resurfaces, Jesus pulls me close. He won’t let me forget — not because He wants me to stew in my suffering, but because He wants to do a deeper work of forgiveness inside of me. He purges the hidden corridors and brings the warmth of His love. Forgiveness isn’t about what I can do, but about what Jesus did on the cross and continues to do in our souls. Through forgiveness, we see the fullness of God’s love for us. Forgiveness isn’t about power and control but about healing and love. He doesn’t want us to forget. He wants us to speak over and over again about His goodness and the way He carried us through a pain we never imagined overcoming. The way Jesus picks us up in our despair and gently puts us back together is the profound poetry of God writing His love story across our souls.
Keep forgiving, friends, but you don’t have to force yourself to forget. Don’t harbor resentment and bitterness, but please don’t pretend pain didn’t happen either. If you are having a hard time forgiving someone who has wronged you, it isn’t because you are doing forgiveness wrong, but because healing takes time. It takes so much time. Our good Shepherd is tending to your soul. He is precise and good and walks the long road of restoration right beside you. God gives you strength to continually forgive someone. Sometimes forgiveness is an every-single-second act of obedience. It takes courage to enter the hard, loving work of forgiveness. It takes staying with the pain and waiting for the choke hold of rejection’s grip to slowly release. When someone has hurt us, it takes time to breathe again.
If you are stuck in a cycle of forgiveness, anger, pain, sadness, forgiveness, tears, hate, and forgiveness, I might suggest that you aren’t stuck at all. The sharp edge of pain is still working its way through your body and soul. The dizziness and disbelief are all part of the process. Keep leaning into Jesus and trust that He is the one leading this forgiveness story. He was the original Author penning what a life of forgiveness ought to look like. Trust He isn’t interested in you just forgetting the pain but is invested in forever being present with you as you seek to love another with your gift offering of forgiveness.
Forgiveness isn’t about what I can do but about what Jesus did on the cross and continues to do in our souls. - Anjuli Paschall: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Amen…keep leaning into Jesus! God is the only One who can not only forgive, but will forget. As far as the east is from the west…that’s how far He’s removed our sins from us and He remembers them no more. Too often I have assigned human characteristics to God. As humans, only in Christ’s power can we forgive, but we are not humanly capable of forgetting, so I think that God is like us…that He will not forget my sins. So thankful that is not the case. As for my ability to forgive….I have found it helpful to turn over my hurt to God because HE is the ultimate judge. He is just and good. If I keep it in my hands, I stew, but if I turn it over to the Lord, I know He will handle it in the very BEST way. His ways are higher than mine. And yes, as for the forgetting, I may never forget, but that’s where, as you reminded us, we lean into Jesus with our hurt. Jesus knows all too well the feelings of betrayal and if we turn to Him, He will comfort our soul. Great post!
You continually bless me with you comments. Thank you for taking time to respond. Yes, God has the best intention for us. He watches over us with care. Even in difficult seasons of forgiveness, He holds our hands.
Kristin Davila says
This is for me. I’m in that cycle and it’s been 3 years ago. My friend and I shared church life together and I never left her side when she had a near fatal car accident. She just walked away from me and I had invested so much. Thank you for helping me understand it better now and that I’m not expected to forget. It helps to know someone else has been through this ❤️
It is incredibly painful when people walk away. It’s so dark. There is so much anger. We may never understand why, but we know God is with us and cares for us. He will never abandon us in our pain. Bless you as you find God’s healing hand in your life.
Beth Williams says
Forgiving is the easy part so of. We say we forgive, but do we really mean it? If we harbor resentment against another we haven’t truly forgiven them. We need God’s help to truly forgive another & let it go. Forgetting about it is another thing. We are mere humans who tend to bring up the past all the time. Forgetting is hard for us. Only leaning into Jesus will help forget & heal. Sometimes the pain is such that forgetting takes times. God will help heal us & in the process mold us into the likeness of Christ. This process as you said is about “What Jesus did on the cross & continues to do in our souls.” Let’s lean hard into Christ & He will help us heal & forget.
Yes and amen!
Thank you for this beautiful lesson. My heart was literally just shattered two days ago. I don’t expect to feel better soon and I know that there is lots of pain through the process of healing but I will trust Jesus and lean on him to help me through it, especially when those memories come back and the hurt rises up with it after I think I’ve long forgotten it. Thank you so much. God bless you ❤️
Oh I am so sorry. Be patient with yourself. Be gentle and kind. The healing will come. The pain will lessen. These days are tender and hard. May God give you His calming peace.
I was able to get out of an abusive relationship with my daughter’s father. Unfortunately, it feels like the abuse continues as we go through the legal process. I feel like I will never truly be free because we have to communicate about our daughter (and he continues to be cruel). How do I forgive someone in the midst of all of that?
Karen L. Wallace says
I too, went through an abusive relationship for 22.5 years before he left me & took my children to Hawaii promising them a better life…. After my children graduated College, my daughter decided to stay In Hawaii after he retired & came back to live just 1.5 away from me. He has had me in Court continuously for 7 years & still to this day. During these last 7 years, I have learned forgiveness is really for me. It has broken me from the bondage of bitterness, resentment & revenge….
It was set me free ! ❤️⚓️✝️
I am so sorry for the pain you are enduring. It seems impossible. My friend, I don’t know how God will get you through this, I just believe that he will. When you get a moment to breathe, I pray that you would know He is beside you. Trust in His unfailing love for you.
Michele Morin says
The deeply theological truth about forgiveness (and why it’s even possible!) so beautifully illustrates your ultimate point here: God knows our frame! He remembers we are dust, and He is not asking us to do something contrary to our design. I’m thankful that He is with us in the remembering and in the continual act of gifting the 70 times 7 to the people in our lives. (And I’m grateful for the people who have to continually forgive me!)
Thank you Michele!
Joan Payne says
I am going through the process of forgiving which is hard to do, as ex-neighbor and neighbor trespass on my property, my home. I barricade my doors when I leave my house and trust God to keep things safe. God has told me to love and forgive which is so hard to do, as it is an ongoing thing. I feel I don’t deserve this kind of treatment, as when I recently moved I thought the situation would be resolved. For some reason, things said in the past (note: it began when neighbor complained about my parking in my driveway which I discovered they used to back up their huge trucks). I, also, feel they are in an illegal business being from Columbia with some goings on I have seen and not realized the situation involved.
I have prayed about it constantly, but can’t move to the next stage of loving…I’ve forgiven, but since it is ongoing, hard to finalize any ending to this. Have called Police several times, but being a senior, they think I am paranoid.
Any comments would be appreciated.
I’m so sorry you are going through this. I will be praying for you, for wisdom and peace. If something illegal is going on and police are not responding, maybe contact a reporter? I’m not sure. But even when we don’t know, God does. I am praying right now that God will lead you in your response for this situation.
What a traumatic experience! I am so sorry! Do you have family or friends nearby that can advocate for you? You must feel so overwhelmed. Or do you attend a church? I just want people around you supporting you. From here, I am praying for you. Praying you feel less alone and know that God is your advocate and friend. God is your good neighbor.
Courtney Kirkland says
This. So much this. I have big scars and hurts in my past and they are so difficult to move forward from. While I don’t harbor the bitterness and the anger, the pain is still there. I’ve always felt I was doing it wrong because I sometimes have to come back to forgive again. ♥️
You are free. No guilt or shame. Keep walking in the way of forgiveness.
Much needed this morning. Struggling with the pain of my relationship with my daughter. She’s a Christian and so am I. Just so many unanswered questions
Trusting my Lord.
Yes, keep trusting. Sometimes a reason isn’t good enough. No answer can satisfy.
Karen L. Wallace says
For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.
“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more
Thank you for those scriptures, Karen. We forgive, because we have been forgiven, and because God himself forgives the wrong. We don’t continue to live in the pain of the hurt when we understand, as God does, that it was/is the devil working through the person who is our only real enemy. EVERY person is loved by God. Jesus paid for EVERY sin. Not that it doesn’t grieve him when we are hurt, but he sees and loves the other person too, and SO CAN WE. Jesus said, Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who persecute you. Yes, it does good for those you are praying for and blessing. It also does tremendous good for you.
Thank you for the reminders of God’s incredible forgiveness of our sins.
Erin Peet says
Thank you for this! I needed to read this today ❤️ I love the constant reminder to turn to Jesus.
This is exactly what I needed to hear this morning. So beautifully written. I was journaling late last night about my desperate need to forgive, forget and move on. I want to forgive. I know I can forgive. It’s the memories (the difficulty forgetting) that cause the pain. Your words help me make sense of that pain and my need to lean into Jesus when the vicious cycle you wrote of begins instead of beating myself up for having those feelings. I have not “failed” and I am not a ”bad” person because I can’t forget. Those cycles are a reminder of my need for Him each and everyday.
THANK YOU Anjuli!
You aren’t a bad person or failing. You are a human so dearly loved by Jesus. And for this season the sting of rejection is strong. Endure the sting and realize Jesus knows that sting too. He is your companion on this journey. Bless you. One day the sting with turn to spring and God will use these wounds to love others in their pain.
Joy Tomlinson says
There are some things from my past that I thought I forgave but still hurt every time I thought about it, your post encouraged me. I was always scared of the part in the Bible that says, if we don’t forgive, our Father won’t forgive us, but maybe I misunderstood it all this time.
No matter what pain awaits for you, remember Jesus always says, “fear not.” Joy, He goes before you into the pain.
Lydia Flores says
Thank you, I needed to hear this so much. Forgive, yes, yes, yes, but to forget is humanly impossible for me, and now I know why. Blessings!
All these comments are really needed to “get it off our chest” so to speak. I believe Anjuli did a wonderful job discussing forgiveness & it really spoke to me. I have a huge problem; though. My hubby of 54 years decided three years ago to get into a false cult. United Church of God started by Herbert Armstrong. He used to be a Sunday School teacher, deacon & sang in the choir at the Baptist Church..Now he says all that was based on lies.that “his” church is the only one with the truth & only they will be in Heaven. He is getting more & more hateful because I am not obeying him by accepting what he says. I am at the point, I really do not want to forgive his cruelty to me. I am 82 years old so I don’t have many choices but to stay with him. It is major sad what has happened to his mind! So please pray for me to have God’s peace & strength & He heals Rays mind. Thanks.
Lydia Flores says
Oh, Frances, I understand completely. I was in the Worldwide Church of God for decades, but never went to the United version. It is a legalistic type of cult, like you said. I know all about HW Armstrong. That church is now Grace Communion International and is a blessed organization with a deep understanding of God’s love. I will pray for you and your husband. Blessings of grace to you.
Thank you Lydia. Some days are very difficult. God bless you!
I’ve been praying for you all day. I am so broken about the situation you are in. I am so terribly sorry. Do you have a support system? Family, friends, or a church? I pray you don’t have to face this all alone. yet, in the darkness, God is with you. “Fear not,” is the most common phrase in the Bible. Dear sister, fear not. Your Father hears your pleas. As a community we are lifting you up and praying for you. Cling to the promises of Jesus.
You didn’t directly address this, but when it’s a fellow “Christian” things are much harder, in my experience…
Into my 8th year of family rejection by two sisters (including a twin!) and extended family beyond that.. all supposed Christians.
Forgiveness is freedom, and although it takes time and intention, it isn’t always intense like it was initially. Take heart
Jenny K says
So sorry that your path has gone through such pain in friendship, thank you so much for sharing how God is working in you and is present with you in all of it. I love the part “He wants us to speak over and over again about His goodness and the way He carried us through a pain we never imagined overcoming. The way Jesus picks us up in our despair and gently puts us back together is the profound poetry of God writing His love story across our souls.” This will be so helpful for me to come back to and reflect on when something brings me back to that relationship grief, to know it’s ok to feel the loss, and to think of how God is so powerfully carrying me through it in His great love, writing a story so much bigger than I can see and shaping my heart to trust in Him. Prayers for you.
I am a man who has been told I must forgive and forget my wife’s “enthusiastic friendship” with a joint male friend nearly ten years ago. Your post is the first encouragement I have found and I really appreciate Anjuli’s insights into the fact that Jesus will come into the devastating memories of past years. I now have a better connection to our Lord and can even feel the different emotional response when I ruminate on the past. Unfortunately, memories like mine intrude in everyday life, unbidden, but with Jesus at my side, I feel I can now face them without the fear I used to have. Thank you Anjuli, your post has improved my life.
Thank you for your encouragement. Your sharing means a great deal.
Marinalva Sickler says
Thanks, Anjulii. Forgetting is hard and I believe it is impossible. Time will ease it and heal it. I had a believer roommate who took me to court, police, and CPS. For the grace of God, the CPS hearings are ended and guardianship hearing renew of my grandson’s annual report. These hearings ended this week. Friday, after guardianship hearing and my therapy, this woman entered my home. Wesley forgot to lock the front door. She’s still threatening me. Unbelievable! Thank you for your touching message.
I have learned from my own experience that my unforgiveness only hurt me. The other person had no clue that I was hurt, which was amazing to me. How could that person NOT know the damage they had done?? I struggled with forgiving this person for many years. I re-lived the hurt over and over. It poisoned my soul. It changed my personality. I didn’t know it was up to me to forgive even if the offender didn’t seek my forgiveness. That was so difficult, but scripture doesn’t lie. Once I came to grips with the fact that it was my place to forgive, with or without being asked for it, then I could do so. I had mistakenly been waiting to be asked to forgive and it didn’t happen. My heart has changed and I can feel love for that person again!
My personal take on this forgiving and forgetting thing is this. Be ready to forgive for your own benefit. Kind of like not eating that donut, not because you are so good, but because you know how it can and will harm you. We forgive others because we too are human and broken and we have been forgiven. But the second part – the forgetting part – I see as less a memory thing and more of a not holding a grudge thing. When we hold grudges we are showing everyone, including ourselves, that we are more important than the teaching example of Christ. We are to let go of self and follow Christ’s example. Not easy to do but not impossible either. Let us remember that love covers a multitude of sins, and that love is a verb, action based and not just an emotion. God bless us with the desire to serve and help each other through this dark world where the only true light is Jesus.