Jeanne Takenaka

How many of us know how to forgive someone? Let’s be honest, forgiving can be hard.

Some of us are familiar with the story of Corrie ten Boom, who, after she was released from Ravensbrück, began speaking about her story and forgiveness. At a church in Munich, a man came up to her and extended his hand. She recognized him as one of the most vicious guards in the camp. He explained how, after the war, he’d become a Christian. Now he was asking for her forgiveness. Corrie couldn’t look him in the eye, much less shake his extended hand.

An icy creek on a wintry day...a symbol for learning how to forgive someone can take time

We’ve all faced times when we’re confronted with the choice of extending forgiveness—or not—we falter.

How to Forgive Someone–5 Mindsets and Heart-sets—We’ve all faced times when confronted with the choice of extending forgiveness—or not—we falter #tellhisstory #forgiveness #relationship Click To Tweet

How to forgive someone who has hurt us

We need to acknowledge the hurt caused by someone else’s words or actions. Sometimes, it feels easier to brush off that pain. But, until we acknowledge it, that pain burrows into our hearts and thoughts, sowing bitterness and hardening our hearts toward the person. When we own the fact that we’ve been hurt, we can bring that to the Lord. He can begin healing within us. 

At times when I’ve journaled things out. Or I’ve confided in a safe friend. Talking with a counselor or therapist is also helpful.

A creek with some ice and a little flowing water

We need to discover what will help us to begin to deal with the hurt that’s been inflicted before we can truly forgive. And sometimes, this requires confronting that hurt many times, as often as the other person’s offense comes up in our thoughts or our hearts. Each time, we must talk with the Lord about it, pray about it, and release it into His hands. Forgiveness is a process that takes time. It’s rarely a one-time action.

Especially when the pain runs deep, we must ask God for help. There are times we simply can’t forgive in our own strength. 

Forgiveness is an act of the will. We must choose to do this, even when we don’t “feel” like forgiving.

How to Forgive Someone–5 Mindsets and Heart-sets—Forgiveness is an act of the will. We must choose to do this, even when we don’t “feel” like forgiving #tellhisstory #forgiveness #relationship Click To Tweet
A frozen creek with sunrise colors reflecting on the ice and in the sky...when we learn how to forgive someone and live this out, there is beauty to be found

How to forgive someone—mindsets and heart-sets

**I share these thoughts as a layperson, not as a professional therapist.

Forgiveness begins when we determine in our minds and hearts we will choose forgiveness.

Choose humility

When we remember for how much God has forgiven us, it’s easier to be humble in our view the person who hurt us. Especially when the pain comes through something as damaging as abuse, it’s tempting to hold that pain over the other person. But, when we remember our perfect heavenly Father has forgiven us of our every sin, we have a framework that enables our hearts to come to the place of forgiving.

Let go of the need to be right

When we feel we are right and the other person is wrong, we’re unable to view them through Jesus’ eyes. We won’t see our need to forgive them. And we both lose. When we ask God to help us see the other person through His eyes, we’ll come to the place where we can forgive. 

Pray for a heart that’s willing to forgive

Rarely are we immediately ready to release the pain and offer forgiveness to the other person. When we find ourselves holding onto hurts, we must ask God for a heart that is soft enough to forgive.

Choose forgiveness, even if the other person never acknowledges what they’ve done or asks for forgiveness

Is this difficult? Yes! But, when we determine we will forgive, our hearts and minds are shielded from bitterness’ poison. Forgiveness is for us more than for the other person

Remember God is clear about forgiveness

We are forgiven by Him to the degree that we forgive the other person. 

A meme with the words, "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15, NKJV" on a backdrop of a snowy creek on a blue sky day

Is forgiving others easy? No, for so many reasons. God doesn’t call us to easy, He calls us to obedience. How to forgive someone? Ask God for help. When we ask, He will help us. When we are weak, He is strong in us. 


The act of forgiveness often takes time for our hearts and minds to come into alignment with God’s will. It’s always His will that we forgive. As we work through our emotions—as we choose to align our heart with God’s—He will enable us to forgive. 

A meme with the words, 'Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32, NKJV" on a backdrop of a small stream flowing around rocks

Corrie ten Boom stood before that man, wrestling with the thought of forgiving this Nazi officer who had been so cruel. She knew she had to forgive; she’d been forgiven over and over again. She prayed, asking God to enable her to forgive this man. And it was in the calling out to her Savior that she was able to shake this former S. S. officer’s hand and speak her “I forgive you.” 

In times when choosing to forgive feels beyond us, let’s follow Corrie ten Boom’s example—remember we’ve been forgiven of much, and ask God to enable us to forgive. This is where healing begins. 

What about you? When have you found it difficult to forgive? What would you add to this list for how to forgive someone?

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