Steps of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a process that involves certain steps.  As discussed in Forgiveness Process: An Analogy, (which you can read here to gain a better understanding of the analogy) unforgiveness is like riding around in a car with Unforgiveness at the wheel.  When we make that decision to get out of the car that Unforgiveness is driving, the journey home can take 5 minutes or 5 years.  The following steps are a kind of road map to help you along the way.

Step 1: Examine the hurt

We have to know what we are forgiving in order to forgive.  This step includes identifying the type of hurt and the behavior that needs forgiving.  It also includes examining and letting go of the emotions involved.

Step 2: Confess your part

Although we would like to place total blame on the other person, it often takes two to tango.  In this step, identify your own part in the dance, confess it and ask for forgiveness.  This helps us to remember that we are no better than our offender.  When we experience God’s forgiveness it also helps us extend forgiveness to others.

Step 3: Become other-centered

When we experience hurt, it is easy to become self-focused.  Changing our focus to gain understanding of our offender is the goal of this step.  It is not for the purpose of excusing their behavior, but instead, gaining compassion for our offender.

Step 4: Forsaking revenge

Unforgiveness is motivated by the desire to hurt back.  Whether it is for the purpose of self-protection or punishment, we want our offender to feel the same pain they caused us.  This step is about putting away the desire for revenge by trusting that God will protect us and/or teach the offender whatever lesson is needed.

Step 5: Desiring the Restoration

Restoration is not always possible when an offense has occurred.  However, being willing to work towards restoration is not only a test of forgiveness but an essential part of the process.

Step 6: Confrontation

Sometimes we can’t wait to confront our offender and other times we avoid it like the plague.  Confrontation is the last step of the process because examining the motive for confrontation is just as important as the confrontation itself.

These steps will be expounded upon in future blogs.  Sometimes we get stuck on one step or another and get lost in the journey.  Remember, it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get there, as long as you keep moving towards home!

4 Responses so far.

  1. Ruth Stoll says:

    Thanks Beth. Always so relevant. Ruth

  2. Ruth Stoll says:

    Thanks Beth. Always so relevant/ Aunt Ruth

  3. Jessica says:

    Another excellent read! I was hoping that there would be multiple posts to read, however, as there is only one I do have a question.

    If confrontation is the last step towards forgiveness, how does one take that step if the offender does not want to engage in a conversation?

    • Beth Hunter says:

      Sometimes it is impossible to confront as the offender may be dead or may be unwilling to engage. In these cases, a letter can be written. If the person is deceased, then reading the letter to an empty chair and/or burning the letter can have very symbolic meaning and bring healing. If the person is still alive, you can send the letter. What they do with the letter is up to them, but you have done your part.