I remember my dad encouraging my sister and I to forgive each other. He would ask us to apologize to each other, then hug and sing his little homemade forgiveness song that went like this: “let’s be loving, let’s be loving, let’s be loving this way.” As a kid, I hated that song, I hated singing it, but what I hated the most was having to hug my sister while I was still so upset at her. I did not want to forgive her or hug her, and have to sing while doing all of that was just too much for me.
When I became an adult, forgiveness was still rough, I would either say that I forgave, to later find out that I was still hurt or bitter about the situation, or I would wait for the person to apologize then I would move on, or I would pray and believe God had helped me forgive but I would hurt each time the memories poped up. I would also journal my feelings until I felt better, but the problem with that was that later on, if I would read those pages again, all the pain and emotions would hit me as if those things had happened yesterday. Those attempts to forgive never worked 100% and I needed a better plan. My husband was using some steps to forgiveness that were working for him (he learned them from God) so he shared them with me. I gave it a try and it really worked! I’ve been using these steps each time I have to forgive and I feel amazing afterwards.
Acknowledge what your have to forgive. Anything that hurts you deeply, that makes you cry, anything that makes you feel bitter, angry or irritable has to do with unforgiveness. Memories from the past that cause you pain or resentment, those are all unforgiven emotions that can be gone in this process.
Sometimes you might have to forgive yourself for past mistakes, if you feel ashamed, embarrassed, blamed… These steps also work for that.
Imagine that unforgiveness in you heart, it looks like ugly dark pieces that don’t fit well in your heart. You reach those pieces with your hand, pull them out of your heart and put them on a plate. Imagine that you are holding that plate with those ugly pieces on it. Now it’s time to get rid of them. I pray like this: “God, I put my unforgiveness on this plate and I give it to you. I want nothing to do with those emotions and I shouldn’t have carried them for so long. Please take them from me.”
In this step, feel free to speak to God and share your heart, but remember, the main goal with this step is to get rid of the plate with the unforgiveness.
Imagine God reaching the plate with his hands and taking it from you. Give the plate to God.
Ask God to destroy everything you put on the plate. You can pray something like: ” God, I ask you to destroy completely all the unforgiving feelings that are on that plate.” Now, imagine Him destroying it to a point you can’t see it anymore. It’s non existent now.
Ask God to detach you emotionally from all those emotions that you put on the plate. Your prayer can be something like: “God I ask you to detach me emotionally from all those emotions once and for all. I believe that you can do it because you have already destroyed them.”
You are finally free from unforgiveness! You pulled out all that negative stuff from your heart, you gave those to God, He destroyed them all, He detached you emotionally from all of those things…but there are empty spaces in your heart that need to be filled with good things. In this step, you will ask God to fill your heart with beautiful things that are important to you. You can pray something like: “God, I ask you to fill my heart with peace, joy, love, compassion for others, patience, hope and grace.”
In this last step you thank God for His help and for setting you free from those negative emotions.
After these 7 steps you should feel much better, lighter and free. I hope these steps can help you just as much as it has helped me. Remember, you can always customize your prayers and make them more personal. God will help you in this process because He wants you to be able to forgive and be set free from pain. Time cannot help you heal from unforgiveness, but God can!
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
Lewis B. Smedes