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How do you "forgive" when someone denies having done wrong?

Discussion in 'Christian Advice' started by LovebirdsFlying, May 3, 2011.

  1. LovebirdsFlying

    LovebirdsFlying My husband drew this cartoon of me. Staff Member Red Team - Moderator Supporter

    I am already aware that forgiveness is done for me, not for the person who wronged me. In fact, most of the people who wrong someone don't even care if they're forgiven or not. I want to know how to go about "forgiving" someone who is convinced that there was no wrong done, and so nothing to forgive.

    I grew up in an abusive, alcoholic household, and later married into domestic violence. The abuse is behind me now, but only because I keep family contact to a bare minimum. They wonder why I moved so far away (nearly 3,000 miles) and why I don't like being with them. Well, my husband, pastor, therapist, and healthier family members all agree that this was the best thing for me to do. Often when an overly manipulative family member says, "I miss you," what is really meant is "I miss controlling you." Likewise, "I only want you to be happy," can mean "I want you to like living under my thumb," but if I continue in this direction, it can turn into a whole different post.

    I am sometimes accused of being bitter about certain horrible things that have been done to me. It's beyond the scope of one post to go into too much detail, but to give an idea, it has ranged from verbal abuse to downright life-threatening situations, including such things as being held hostage and being abused sexually. I am under the care of an excellent therapist, please rest assured, and for the record he is a Christian.

    My question is, when I ask about something like that, I will be told:
    • It didn't really happen.
    • You imagined it.
    • You're exaggerating.
    • Maybe you dreamed it.
    • You must have seen it on TV, and got confused and thought it happened to you.
    • You have emotional problems, and that means your memory is warped.

    This is coming from people who consider me the family historian, and won't hesitate to call and ask me who we lived next door to in 1974, because my memory is so accurate.

    In any case, if it "didn't happen," then they did nothing wrong, and what is there to forgive? Therefore, how can I?
    Last edited: May 3, 2011
  2. TammyRae

    TammyRae Newbie

    I'm sorry to hear of your situation, lovebirdsflying :-( It sounds like you've come through a nightmare family situation and have done massive work on healing yourself and creating a better life and emotional health.

    I'm in a similar situation myself, working on forgiving a soon to be ex-husband who damaged me and my children very badly but insists he wasn't sinning because God knows our weaknesses and anyone (including our pastor) who points out scriptures to him is just being "legalistic" :-(

    Am praying every day for God to help me release my bitterness and hurt and he's just jaunting through his new bachelor life in search of a teen-crush butterflies-in-the-stomach new love affair, and smiling boyishly at everyone at church but avoiding our pastor.... and very annoyed with me that I can't just accept him with his weaknesses and move on with life staying best friends with him for the "childrens' sake".

    How do you forgive someone so totally in denial of damaging you or your children badly? Hope someone has an answer to help you on this thread, I need the answer myself.
  3. fleabrain13

    fleabrain13 Newbie

    Salvation Army
    Forgiveness is giving it to the Lord as an act of your will. It is not necessary for anyone to acknowledge their wrongdoing. I do not want to hold unforgiveness because I don't want it to come between me and the Lord therefore I surrender any "rights" to hold another in unforgiveness.
    Scripture tells us that unforgiveness isn't an option for us as believers.
  4. visionary

    visionary Your God is my God... Ruth said, so say I. Supporter

    Keep repeating.. until the Lord heals your heart

    Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing....
    Last edited: May 3, 2011
  5. TammyRae

    TammyRae Newbie

    Forgiveness is giving it to the Lord as an act of your will.

    You are right, I've lost sight of that and just kept praying for God to soften my heart and release the anger and help me stop being "judgemental". I could feel that it was getting in the way of my prayer and walk with Christ but was struggling like crazy trying to stop my brain from focusing on it all the time. I even bought Joyce Myer's book "Battlefield of the Mind" to try to get control of this....

    Thank you, thank you for that reminder, I think it will help me more doing it the right way :)

    I hope it helps lovebirdsflying, too, it sounds like she has had a much more hurtful life at the hands of "loved ones" than I did....
  6. TammyRae

    TammyRae Newbie

    Hi visionary,

    God doesn't forgive the unrepentant sinners of their sins...

    Thank you, visionary, I believe this, too, and am actually afraid for my husband :-( There is no talking to him, though, even though he has been a professing born-again Christian for over 25 years. Totally lost in denial and it is scary to see the way his mind and heart work to justify to himself what he has been doing.

    I'll just keep praying for him and keep giving it to God, as suggested....

    (I'm sorry, lovebirdsflying, I didn't mean to hijack your thread... you just hit on something I've been struggling with deeply myself for the last couple of months)
  7. singpeace

    singpeace Senior Member Supporter

    Dear Lovebird,

    I am guessing that our stories are very similar. My Offenders, like yours, are unrepentant. So I understand this kind of hurt and anger. That said; I hope you make the same decision I made years ago when all I had left was to turn to Christ Jesus for help. I have never regretted following through with what He showed me in the Scriptures.

    One of Jesus' main teachings was that we love our enemies, pray for them, and do good to those who have hurt us.

    There was no repentance at the Cross while Jesus hung there. Not only was repentance nonexistent, but his Offenders sneered at him, mocked him, and despised him. Jesus replied, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34) Suppose Jesus had adopted the position that He should wait for them to repent before forgiving them? I hate to think where this world would be had our Savior been like me. Thank God his mercies are new every morning. Furthermore, what's interesting to me about the cross is that He did not call down to them, "I forgive you." Instead, He prayed, "Father You forgive them."

    Those who hurt us probably don't even think they have done anything wrong. Nine out of ten people I have to forgive don't think they have done anything wrong to me (which suggests that I, too, have probably hurt people without knowing).

    Be that as it may, I wanted my forgiveness for my Offenders to REAL - in my heart and not just in my words. So I looked to Christ's example and decided that my forgiveness would be most like his if I accomplished three things:

    (1) Not tell another soul what they did to me.

    (2) Accept the matter of total forgiveness as a "life sentence" - I would have to keep doing it, indefinitely.

    (3) Pray that God would bless them and forgive them.

    Lovebird, if you do this, you will never be sorry. The blessing of the Holy Spirit on you will compound and multiply to exceed your greatest expectation. The greater and deeper the hurt, the greater the blessing that follows.

    Romans 5:8
    But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

    James 2:10
    For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

    Hebrews 8:12
    For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

    Luke 23:34
    Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

    Matthew 18:21-22
    Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
  8. Life2Christ

    Life2Christ Guest

    It is important to remember, this is God's fight. He will fight your battles for you, trust me. All you have to do is forgive (my definition of forgivness is promising not to take revenge on the enemy). Let it all go to God and do your part to live a righteous life. I know what it is like to deal with people who take no accountability for their wrong doing.
  9. visionary

    visionary Your God is my God... Ruth said, so say I. Supporter

    I can attest to the fact, that when it is left in God's hands, it is almost funny to watch.. [ you will see that the Lord also has a sense of humor too] and you can ask to see it. ;) ... You will be glad you left it in God's hands...
    Last edited: May 3, 2011
  10. Lee52

    Lee52 Well-Known Member

    Forgiveness on your part is independent of any action on anyone else's part. It does not require active participation on the part of another. You forgive as God forgives you in Christ Jesus. You forgive so that you follow God's desire for you. To not forgive interferes with your relationship with God, who is a relational Being desirous of having a personal relationship with you.

    Be blessed,
  11. LovebirdsFlying

    LovebirdsFlying My husband drew this cartoon of me. Staff Member Red Team - Moderator Supporter

    Thank you, brothers and sisters, for your counsel. It gives me much to think and pray about.

    Now, follow up questions. HOW is the act of forgiveness carried out?

    Does forgiving mean I need to act like nothing ever happened, and have a relationship with people who will continue to abuse me if I do? Just because I share DNA with them?

    In talking about the abuse, in therapy, online, or whatever, because I believe telling my story might help others, am I violating "honor thy father and thy mother" as I have been accused of doing, since it puts them in a bad light?
  12. homeofmew

    homeofmew Master Trainer Supporter

    In Relationship
    I'm going through a similar situation.

    Where people are accusing me of Drama and making up stuff and it really is happening.
    Anyway my situation is a little bit different where people are lying about me just to get me in trouble.

    This is what I have concluded to get closure and this might be hard.
    But go to the person (s) who abused you and tell them that they wronged you and that you forgive them. Then on top of it, if they keep on denying it that's their fault.

    Find peace in telling them how it really is.

    How do you forgive them: eventually they are going to be accountable for what they did to you before God anyway.
    let God deal with it, easier said then done I know. but in the end it's not going to matter every injustice in this life means nothing.

    You will end up getting a crown of glory for being kind to your enemies.
  13. visionary

    visionary Your God is my God... Ruth said, so say I. Supporter

    One thing is for sure, once God has put your heart and mind at rest, you will be able to move on with your life. And if they wish to stay in the pig pen they created... then they have not come to their senses yet... all you can do is pray for them.. but definitely work on moving on with your life as if it never happened. .. that is the good part of "forgive and forget".. you don't have to dwell upon it... it's in God's hands now.
  14. susanpath32

    susanpath32 Newbie


    Forgiveness is not necessarily for the other person. It is for you. It means that you are letting go and letting God. What the other person has to say does not matter. When you forgive, you surrender the pain and anger.
  15. apureheart

    apureheart Member

    Flushing Toilets and Forgiveness

    Was in a men's small group a couple months ago when a new christian shared about having a problem forgiving. He knew what he was supposed to do but not how to do it. How do you let go? How do you forgive someone who doesn't deserve forgiveness?

    I asked him if he had ever went to the bathroom and discovered someone had left something behind in the toilet they shouldn't have.

    "Well, yeah."

    "What did you do?"

    "I flushed it."


    There is a really puzzled look on the man's face.

    "Because that is what you are supposed to do."

    A wrong done against you is like something left behind that shouldn't have been. Just leaving it does not make it go away nor does it clear the air (pun intended). Every time you revisit the wrong old resentments resurface. They shouldn't have done this. This is wrong. They should have ...

    And you are absolutely right! Forgiveness is difficult enough when another acknowledges their wrong but when they hide it or worse, flaunt it, it just floats there in the toilet of your emotions and because of someone else your life stinks.

    Proverbs 18:19(KJV) A brother offended (hurt, angry) is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.

    As we are growing up we learn the value of "walls". Separating ourselves from others, physically or emotionally. If someone hurts you a wall goes up. If you are wronged a wall goes up. If you are neglected a wall goes up. We think a happy life is a life free from pain so we each live in our own little castle.

    But when you are hurt deeply by another the walls are fortified, a moat is made and alligators put in it, the drawbrige is pulled up and locked, huge pots of hot oil are prepared and placed strategically atop the walls. And bars are put in the windows. No one is getting in. You are right. But your castle has now become your prison.

    Flushing toilets is no big deal. Even when it is someone's else's "mess" you almost instinctively flush. You know that not flushing is worse than flushing.

    Maybe you can get used to the smell whenever you are near the bathroom. Maybe you can learn to live with it. But when others are in your home they will notice. They may not say anything but they will know something is (smells) wrong.

    One day Jesus asks you about the smell. You tell him the story of the person who used your toilet and did not flush. He asks you why you did not flush it. And the caldron of emotions begins to boil as you defend your right to not do what someone else should have, why they were wrong for doing it, you go on and on.

    Jesus goes to the bathroom door to open it but it is locked. He looks at me and says, "Only treasures you cherish you keep from me. Is this your treasure?"

    It is often easier to give Jesus our loves than it is to give him our hates. Our treasure is those things we will not let go of. How sad the life that allows a treasure of misery to keep it bound.

    Forgiveness...Sacrifice or Escape

    Unforgiveness is a prison cell where two people dwell
    Often it is the offended who is trapped in a living hell

    Clutching to their wounded hearts the wrong and the pain
    Anguished tears blot their garments with an unforgiving stain

    We know what we are supposed to do but we know how we feel
    How can we forgive another when we ourselves need time to heal

    Emotions will lie and fight to keep you where you are
    Reason will join in and remind you how long and how far

    Doubt will raise its ugly head as it prepares to strike
    Self demands justice and tells forgiveness to take a hike

    Forgiveness is not a sacrifice but a way of true escape
    From the cruelty of the tormentor's use of mental rape

    Where over and over our thoughts are savagely invaded
    Defenseless from this onslaught our hope has faded

    On the Cross Jesus died because of my offense
    Deserving no mercy I was without excuse or defense

    Amazing love that died when for Him I did not care
    Upon Himself He took the load that I could not bear

    Forgiveness is never easy but it is always right
    It is a way of life for those who walk in light

    Taking another's offense and burying it at the Cross
    The refiner's fire of mercy will remove our dross

    Forgiveness is a key that releases you from your torment
    As you give this gift to another to you GOD's healing is sent

    Forgiveness doesn't mean that we forget what was done
    It simply means we truly are becoming more like GOD's Son


    What is below was written over five years ago. First a sister sharing. And then a response. It's not always easy to do (or write) GOD's will.

    First I say hello my fellow poets. I come today putting myself out in the open. When I was a child my father did the worst thing you could do to a daughter. He took my youth and destroyed life from growing inside of me. I know God can change that if he desired to but let me move on. I was hurt on levels I didn't know were there. When I got saved and I began to worship the most high God He began to show me my gifts and talents. Now I am all grown up and God is challenging me again. Word was brought to me that my earthly father now needs a kidney, and he has to go on dialysis, and his sugar is out of control. Well he needs a kidney and my step-mother said one of our sisters was going to be tested. So we all need to go to see which one of us can help him. I believed that I was past my anger, hurts, and pains but when I heard this, I felt anger and then I felt like why should I help him. Now I know that is not what my Heavenly Father would want me to say or think. How can I help the man that has taken so much from me? I know what the word says but this is one of those I just feel like God's way is so heavy. I need you all. Help your sister because she is feeling lost right now.

    Dragon Slayer

    There are memories from her painful past
    The damage that was done will always last

    Beyond the scars is a frightened little girl
    Reliving forgotten terror in that dark world

    Against a cruel dragon helpless to defend
    She wonders if his torture will ever end

    The dragon now lies wounded clinging to life
    Tears and prayers are offered from the dragon's wife

    The sword of indifference held firmly in her hand
    If she slays the dragon people will understand

    To end the tryanny of the never-ending beast
    Of those deserving mercy he is the very least

    Deep within her spirit comes One in shining armor
    One who truly loves her and never will harm her

    Gently he takes the sword from her trembling hand
    As He holds her closely she begins to understand

    That ending the dragon's life will not end the pain
    Washing herself in its blood will not remove the stain

    A little girl walks tearfully into the dragon's lair
    Knowing she has something she needs to share

    Offering from within the one thing he did not take
    Hoping and praying her gift will the difference make

    Finally the little girl has become a dragon slayer
    Laying her life down for another has truly freed her


    Sis, when Jesus uttered those words, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do," those responsible knew exactly what they were doing. They were right, they were justified, and they could. Jesus did not ask His Father to show them their sin, to prove to them they were wrong and He was right. He only prayed that they be forgiven, not because they deserved it but because Jesus loved them.

    Sometimes we get walked on before we wash feet. Sometimes we get hurt before we can help. Sometimes we have to fail before GOD can succeed.

    We do not get to write, cast and direct the play. GOD does that. We simply play our role and trust GOD with how it all turns out. I am not responsible with how someone else acts. I am responsible for how I act (and react). Who knows how many rehearsals and dress rehearsals there are before GOD's will is real in another's life. How many were there before that was true in your life?

    Lovebirdsflying, all you want is honesty. I understand. But you already know that you will not get what you want.

    "If any man will come after me...

    Are you willing to follow Jesus into the most uncomfortable, painful places in your life?

    "...let him deny himself..."

    Can you deny yourself the right to expect others be honest, to own their actions, to to the right thing?

    "...take up his cross..."

    Jesus did not put Himself on the Cross. He was violently, unmercifully nailed there by those who justified their actions. We do not get to pick our cross but we do get to choose if we accept it or fight it. Remember the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus? One fought his to the death. The other accepted it and asked Jesus to remember him.

    "and follow Me..."

    Back in the 70's a very popular chorus was I Have Decided To Follow Jesus. Among the phrases sung were "I have decided to follow Jesus", "The Cross before me, the world behind me", "Though none go with me, still I will follow". Each phrase was sung three times and then followed by, "No turning back, no turning back".

    Sis, I think it awesome the place where you are from where you were. You are fixing you with the help and grace of GOD and those GOD has placed in your life. Don't turn back. Lot's wife looked back and never moved from that spot. Your heart is good. Your desire is good. But you can't fix what is wrong with others who refuse truth. Just keep following Jesus and let GOD deal with those things and people you cannot.

  16. fleabrain13

    fleabrain13 Newbie

    Salvation Army
    One time when Jesus was teaching, his mother and brothers came for Him. Jesus was told that his mother, brothers and sister were there and Jesus said,"Who are my brothers, my mother, my sisters? Those who do the will of my Father are my brothers, mother and sisters".
    Something that we do not realize is that no relationship we have that is not based upon Jesus Christ will go into eternity with us.
    So while we are instructed to honor our parents according to God's commandments, we do so because of our love for God just like we forgive others because of our love for God. This is why the Kingdom of God is near-because we walk in it daily.
  17. Life2Christ

    Life2Christ Guest

    This is really profound and it home for me.
  18. maizer

    maizer Newbie

    I am amazed how calm you are after all you have been through. I honestly think I would have done something violent. Or be consumed with blinding anger, much less even thinking of forgiveness...

    The other day I heard on the radio about forgiveness from a Christian radio host:

    "Forgiving doesn't mean what you did to me was right. Forgiving doesn't mean it didn't happen. Forgiving doesn't mean everything is great between us. It doesn't mean I have to like you or love you.

    Forgiveness means that... what you did to me was wrong, and time does not change that. You owe me, you are in debt to me. BUT.... I will forgive those debts, and you owe me nothing. That is forgiveness."

    I thought that was a nice description, but praying that I may never need to learn it the hard way... I pray you find peace.
  19. pdudgeon

    pdudgeon Traditional Catholic

    United States
    In Relationship
    this is a classic case of them shifting the blame on to you, thus relieving them of all guilt. they cannot accept your forgiveness because to do so would cause them to acknowledge their sin against you.

    this is not something new, but is as old as the hills... it is how the Pharisees treated Judas when he tried to return the money that they gave him to betray Jesus.

    If you have forgiven them, then let it drop. you cannot force them to accept your forgiveness any more than the Pharisees would take back the money they gave to Judas. And until they acknowledge what they have done before God and ask His mercy, they will treat you as though no wrong has been done.

    as for being in contact with them, keep your guard up and your fences secure.
    Pray to God our Heavenly Father that He will show you His great love, and will cleanse and heal your heart towards them. time, grace, and distance are a great cure.
  20. paul1149

    paul1149 that your faith might rest in the power of God Supporter

    United States

    Forgiveness and reconciliation are separate. We need to forgive in order to keep our own lines clear with God, but reconciliation is based on restoration of trust, and that depends on repentance. Jesus said we are to forgive from the heart - it must be true forgiveness, but it does not have to result in reconciliation. He also said to flee persecution and to shake the dust off and leave when people are not receptive to the Gospel.

    Ideally, forgiveness and repentance will go hand in hand in opening the door to restored relationship. But that is not always going to happen, especially on our timetable.

    If you forgive, even if the offender doesn't repent you are free - your heart is free to heal and you are free to walk away and continue with your life.