where a woman can build her strength and freedom

How can I forgive someone who isn’t sorry?

It takes a big heart to forgive someone. The photo shows a beautiful purple, gold, red and green design of stained glass to help us focus on forgiveness.

I imagine you have been hurt by someone in your life
who later regretted it, apologized to you, and you forgave them.
It was a painful situation, but you got over it.
I imagine there may also be someone in your life
who hurt you badly but did not regret it,
who never, ever apologized and isn’t likely to anytime soon.
It remains a painful situation, and you haven’t gotten over it.
You may have been advised by well meaning people to forgive this person.
To which you reply: “How can I forgive someone who isn’t sorry???”

The good news

I want you to know you are capable of forgiving anyone,
whether they are sorry or not.
You may not want to forgive the person who hurt you.
He or she may be mean, cruel, destructive and very sick
and you may remain very angry with them.
But if you decide to forgive them you can.
And you can forgive them without setting yourself up for more pain.

Really? you ask.
Yes, really.
You are fully capable of accomplishing this worthy goal.

But WHY forgive them?

Maybe you are wondering:
Is it really necessary for me to forgive someone who isn’t sorry?
Yes. It isn’t easy, but it is necessary.

Allow me to explain why you need to forgive them:
As long as you have not forgiven them, you are still emotionally attached.
You are still their victim,
still suffering pain in your whole being from what they did to you.
This means they still have power over you!

You must take back your power.
Through the powerful act of forgiveness
your heart and mind and soul and body
will finally become free of them and what they did to you.
You will have risen above it.

OK, you say. I am skeptical that this is possible,
but I am willing to hear you out.

What is the solution?
What do I have to do to forgive someone who isn’t sorry
so I can get free of them once and for all?

You will have to take 4 strong steps:

1) Decide to end the pain.
Make this decision for the simple reason that you are sick of being their victim.
Ask yourself: “Why would I allow this person to continue to hurt me?”

2) Protect yourself from a repetition.
Put in place whatever boundaries are necessary
to ensure that you cannot be hurt by this person again.

3) Recognize you have no power to change this person.
The person who hurt you may be mean, cruel, destructive, sick.
But you did not cause their sickness
you cannot control it
and you cannot cure it.

In other words: you cannot change them.
The only person you can change is yourself.

4) Decide to let go of your hurt and anger and replace it with compassion.
There are many mean, cruel, destructive, sick people in this world.
I assure you, their lives are miserable.
The person you are in the process of forgiving
is unlikely to ever be as happy and free
as you have the potential to be.
It takes a big heart to realize that a sick person
can’t just snap their fingers and change,
even if they would decide to.

It takes years of therapy to transform a destructive person.
Until they face themselves, they will remain miserable and in the dark.

So what is your compassionate response to such a miserable lost person?
Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.”

This is what Jesus said as He was dying on the cross.
He forgave the sick people who crucified him.
I assure you they were not sorry.
This is what you are called to do now.
Forgive someone who isn’t sorry.

You have protected yourself from a repetition of being hurt by this person.
Now, let your heart forgive them
and be free.

Dr. Hall

PS For more on forgiveness and a loving spirit, see my previous posts:
What do you believe in and live by?
How can you begin to figure out what you believe?