Can You Forgive Someone and Still Be Hurt?
“Can you forgive someone and still be hurt?”, is a common question I hear in counseling. We are naturally driven toward things that feel good and avoid things that don’t feel good. Therefore, we want the pain of an offense to go away. The real reason we wonder if we can forgive someone and still be hurt is that we are experiencing pain and are trying to figure out if it’s unforgiveness that is causing the pain to continue. Unfortunately, forgiveness doesn’t equal immediate pain relief, especially when dealing with a deep wound. Forgiving someone and still being hurt is much more complex than a simple formula.
What is forgiveness?
Simply put, forgiveness is releasing someone from your punishment and entrusting the offense to God. As Christians, we receive forgiveness through the redeeming work of Christ’s death on the cross. Jesus paid the debt for our sins. In other words, He took the punishment we deserved- death (Romans 3:23). We are called to forgive as we have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32).
Keep in mind that forgiveness is a choice – and action we choose. Forgiveness is not a feeling or instant healing and pain relief.
Why is it hard to forgive someone who hurt you?
The pain caused by sin has a powerful impact on us as individuals. When we are deeply wounded, it’s natural to become angry at the person who caused to the pain.
Nobody wants to deal with emotional pain caused by the offense of another. However, everyone is faced with pain and the choice to forgive. We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world.
Forgiveness and Healing
There are a couple important things you need to know about forgiveness and healing. First, forgiveness and healing are not the same. Forgiveness is a choice to release the offender from our punishment and entrust it to God. It happens in a single moment. Healing is a journey that takes time and intention. Keep in mind though, forgiveness is the first step that kicks off the journey to healing.
Second, forgiveness is the foundation that healing can be built upon. If you are waiting to heal before you forgive, it will be hard to ever choose to forgive the offense. Imagine building a house. Before the walls, roof go on the foundation is poured. Forgiveness is the foundation that we build the house on. In other words- we must pour the foundation of forgiveness before the beautiful home (healing) can be built.
So how do we heal after forgiveness?
When the question, “Can you forgive someone and still be hurt?” comes up, I believe the real question is –“How do I heal?” There are several areas we can begin to take action on the journey toward healing. Notice I said, “take action” – there is a certain amount of intention we must exert in healing from past pain.
There are 2 ways to process through emotional pain: verbal and written. Verbal processing is done with wise counsel – talking about the events, thoughts and feelings from your perspective. It isn’t productive to curse the person who hurt you (Matthew 5:44). Rather, process your perspective and experience. Choose someone who will speak life into the situation. Possibly a wise friend, a pastor or receive Christian counseling. Verbal processing simply brings the offense into the light.
Next, written processing. Research shows this is an incredibly powerful way to heal from past hurts. This works well alongside verbal processing. Wise counsel isn’t available 24/7 – writing things down brings complex thoughts and feelings into order.
It is important to end the journaling with positive takeaways. Without this component in your writing, it can be counterproductive. Get a free downloadable journaling guide with prompts to get you started.
Work through emotional pain and past hurts with God. He is ultimately our strength, refuge (Psalms 46:1-3), and healer (Jeremiah 30:17). Cast your burdens on Him (1 Peter 5:7).
Check out 5 purposes of pain here.
Change Your View
When I’ve experienced a deep hurt, my perspective gets quite narrowed to the offense and my pain. Doing so slows my healing as I turn over the event and the pain in my mind again and again. This is only one view of the event.
Consider that hurting people, hurt people. Often, people are doing the best they can with the few tools they have. They might not be equipped to do things differently – yet. This isn’t excusing or tolerating – just trying to gain understanding.
Give thought to the work God is doing in and through the situation. After all – He promises to use this hurt for your good and His glory (Romans 8:28). Every deep hurt I’ve experienced has strengthened me and prepared me to encourage others. That blessing only comes through God’s grace (2 Corinthians 12:9). Pulling positives out of negative situations brings healing. More importantly, it shifts my eyes from my pain upward toward God and His grace.
Can you forgive someone and still be hurt?
In a word – absolutely! Forgiveness is the foundation that must be laid in order to journey toward healing. When we forgive someone, instant healing doesn’t come (especially when the hurt causes deep emotional wounds).
Once forgiveness takes place, we can choose to be intentional in the healing process. We do this by processing verbally and in writing. Prayerfully bringing the offenses to the Most High. Choosing to broaden our view of the offense is vital component as well.
Don’t forget to sign up for an instant download of the forgiveness journaling prompts. It comes straight out of the forgiveness work book.
You might also like these articles on forgiveness…
Can you forgive and still not trust?
How do I heal from bitterness and resentment?
This is so good. I like your perspective. Thank you!
So glad it was helpful, Ann! Thank you for stopping by:)
Thank you so much, I am dealing with some deep hurt and my husband just keep saying, you never forgave. Thank you so much, this has helped me tremendously.
Thank you so much for this awesome piece! I have been betrayed by 2 close family members at the same time. I have chosen to forgive, but am wading through the pain and alienation this has brought. I appreciate the positive message in this article! God bless you!
I have been betrayed as well by family on my husbands side. I was confused about why I still had butterflies in my stomach at the thought of being around them. I knew I had made the decision to forgive because I am aware of the negative effects. I thought it was hurt. Now, I am convinced. A counselor explained healing is individual and personal. Not fair to time someone. That becomes judgment.
If you forgive your husband for hurting you (verbal & emotional abuse) and he keeps doing it, what do you do? I know JESUS said to forgive 7×70 but it gets worse every time thus lowering my self esteem.
Forgiveness is not the same as trust. Abuse is grounds for divorce. Taking a stand is the loving thing to do because you are saying to him that his behavior is unacceptable. Rolling with the punches just enables him to continue in his destructive lifestyle. I wish you the best!
I really enjoyed reading this. It was very helpful and encouraging.
Thanks, Kenyetta! I appreciate you taking the time to read and share your thought:)
May 27 1955 is birth day. I am still healing from physical and mental abuse that happened to me. I still have a difficult time when painful action occurre from family and friends, and also a quart of a century relationship cohabitating with ,which I know is sinful. I now required to have my own bedroom, and I have always payed my share of rent. Thank you for your wise information so I can forgive and begin healing.
Thank you for this. But what do you do when the person you wronged won’t forgive you?
I don’t know how we can save and move our marriage forward if he won’t forgive.
Any insights are welcome!
That’s a great question, Melissa. When something is outside my circle of control, I hand it over to God through prayer. Once you’ve done your part to ask for forgiveness and demonstrate heart change, it’s time to prayerfully wait. It also might be that trust needs to be rebuilt and forgiveness has already taken place. Praying for you!
I feel that I have done all I can. I believe in my heart that God has forgiven me. I want true happiness for once in our marriage. If my prayers aren’t answered for peace and forgiveness in my marriage…..maybe it is God letting me know it is time to move on to another chapter. My heart is ready!
I appreciate this so much. It comes at a perfect time, as my husband has not been able to make sense of forgiving his brother, who has hurt him so much, and healing without having a relationship with him. He feels that because they just can’t have a relationship due to his brother’s destructiveness (never changing), then has he really forgiven him? Loving him, but not liking him.
Hi Sally, Glad the article was helpful… I have another article that might bring even more light to you husband’s relationship with his brother: https://sunshynegray.com/forgiveness-reconciliation/ Praying for your family!
I’m so thankful I found your site. Your articles are helping me through a very difficult time.
Hi Victoria! Clarity on the topic of forgiveness brings so much into focus when it comes to relationships. I’m glad this article was helpful:) Praying for you right now!
What if this individual keeps hurting you every day. I mean every single day and you have to keep forgiving everyday while hurts keep piling up within you and tearing you down..Sometimes it seems they are clueless about how the things they do deeply hurt me. Sometimes I feel I’m been too sensitive but I can’t help it..Their actions really hurt me deep
Hi Efau, Without knowing the details, I would consider that maybe this is more of a boundaries issue. We have to speak the truth in love to those who are hurting us consistently, then set boundaries. Praying for you!
Hey, I needed this today. I have found healing of the heart takes a lot longer then forgiveness. I do not do well with sharing and talking about the hurt but have always turned to journalling when the pain got unbearable, so I’m glad that’s a method of healing.
Hi Marilyn, Yes! Journaling is a powerful tool-don’t forget to download the outline, it is an effective way to shift from the hurt to the growth.
Thankyou for this posting and I am glad that such a topic exists. I am in a similar situation.So last year after giving birth to my daughter, my mother in law came to visit.At that time, i was dreading the visit because I was already wondering if she would visit and come up with some unkind comments.Keep in mind she had said comments to me in the past that were far from kind.In other words comments that seemed on the surface harmless but were actually very hurtful.
Anyway she visited and during a phone conversation we were having altogether with my father in law and his wife ( basically my husbands step mum) she basically said 🙁 poor C she only just gave birth) just because my daughter has features from her Dads side.It was a very mean comment in my opinion.After my mother in law left, it was extremely difficult for me to engage with her or attempt to have a normal relationship for several months.To the extent that she noticed and started asking whether i was upset at her( she didnt ask me directly, but asked her spouse (father in law) and my spouse.Following that we let her know the reason why i was actually upset.She said that she had not intended to be hurtful and asked for forgiveness.
After reading scripture and praying, I forgave her.
However, after almost a year since , I still fee quite hurt when I think about the comment.I also have no trust , I am afraid that such comments/ incidences will repeat itself and I may not be able to continue the relationship with her if this occurs again.
What do you do as someone trying to proceed in a Christian way?
Thank you so much! I just happened to come across your site while on Google, and your words and Christian perspective was exactly what I needed. I feel like I’ve been in a one-on-one counseling session. God bless you!
My mother took me hundreds of miles away from my husband to live with her against my will. I lost my marriage, lost my opportunity to have children, and I am still grieving. I became utterly disempowered. I now have some emotional relief keeping aloof from my mother, but I still want to escape further. The Bible says “What God has joined together, let man not separate”, “Honor your mother and father”, “Put your religion into practice by caring for your own family”. I pray that God will bless my mother and provide for her, yet all I want to do is escape from being anywhere near her. I am experiencing unfathomable grief, emotional pain, revulsion, aversion, fear. What does forgiveness look like? How does God want me to care for my mother? And how can I heal?
Would it be possible to find somewhere she’d be able to live, maybe with a different family member? This would still be honouring her, then you could maybe find him again, I pray everything goes well.
Yes very helpful thanks a lot
@Rebecca I feel for you and can completely relate to your dilemma somehow. I don’t have answers to your questions but I am sure you need a lot of healing and forgiving for your mom.
Thank you very much,it really helped me ,I have been hurt emotionally and the wound is deep in my heart, instead of praying I speak to the person that hurt me harshly always I don’t keep quiet and it pains me more.I end up hurting myself the more even after I said I have forgiven them.
Hi Precious- It’s important to work through the healing part. Check out this article for more information… https://sunshynegray.com/how-let-go-resentment-grudges
I just came across this website. I was just trying to figure out why, if I forgave him, I’m hurting so bad.
Almost 40 years of marriage and I can’t believe so many other wounds I thought they were healed, with these most recent events all those wounds seem to be bleeding and now worse than before.
I’ve asked The Most Hi to help me, but it hurts so much.
I have genuinely be with someone for the past six years and he has betrayed me .He asked for forgiveness and I have genuinely forgiven him but he still wants us to continue to keep in touch with each other of which I can’t do because the pain is too bad .He has seriously wronged me of which I want to protect my heart from being damaged but he won’t understand.
I have been praying and don’t know what to do.Even if I close all doors,he still finds a way to me.
I want to heal, I want to forgive but it’s hard because the person that hurt me did not even ask for my forgiveness :'(
Sorry Hanna, i feel for you. But as Christians, we are asked to forgive EVEN when the offender does not apologize. its hard truth. i know its painful. but find solace in the fact that he forgave our sins whilst we were still sinners.
Thanks for this article. This gave me complete confirmation and clarity. Forgiveness is not my issue. I can do that with ease. But it’s the continued hurt that’s an issue. The Healing process can never complete itself because of this. So In my soul searching and healing, I decided to remove myself from the presence of this individual. I no longer allow that negative energy in my space. Because whenever I’m around the person I’m met with snarky indirect comments thrown at me. If I ask if those comments are meant for me, the manipulation starts, followed with denial. Once or twice may be a coincidence. But everytime I’m around you those same indirect disrespectful comments, which alludes to our issue, are openly and harshly spoken?? So I can’t keep subjecting myself to that hurt. I still love them. But I’m constantly told that I haven’t forgiven them. Because I don’t want to rebuild a relationship with them at this time, due to this. Sometimes people will never except accountability for their behavior. They play victim to circumstances that they created and place the blame on you. We have to meet people where they are in life. We can’t change people nor their behavior. We are only responsible for ourselves. We have to Pray for them and allow God to heal whatever is broken within them. At the same time we have to pray for healing within ourselves. Do the work and God will do the healing! Thanks?
I’m in a similar situation with my wife. When she’s angry with me she says the most deeply hurtful things and I have marked my boundaries and still she crosses them without a thought. So, if there is no sign of repentance do I have to forgive the same way? Wouldn’t distance do the same thing? People need to understand consequences and not rely on the concept of biblical forgiveness. and why I “ shouldn’t” just walk away after I have repeatedly set this boundary. The fact is as humans we have limits and once someone has exceeded those limits consciously then that means to me that they don’t care about forgiveness or repentance either one
I really appreciate this perspective. Just reading this is healing. Thank you!
God is faithful!
If I were gut shot by a gun, as much I could forgive the shooter…..I still have a deep wound that needs to heal. Trying to cover with a band-aid in hopes it goes away does not allow proper healing. Denial isn’t healing. The wound will go deeper. Let it air out….heal from the inside out. It takes time! The deeper the sound and the more other organs involved the more respect required in the healing process. Forgiven? Yes! Healing….will take time. Allow yourself the grace in the time you need. Seek God and allow Holy Spirit to help you heal.
Iam so happy God lead me to this. For almost a week, I could not understand the two. God told me to forgive them. What (whom) or those, I thougt he was speaking of was not exactly whom HE was speaking of ” his thoughts are not my thoughts” God is removing this boulder of hurt I have carried for over 30 years from age 19 and about to turn 50 yrs of age. God showed me that my own trauma experinced is a result of generational HURT and they cannot see it.
God said I am the one to draw them back to him, he told me to rest in him and he will give me peace. I am learning to rest and peace is here, now it is time for the real hard digging. God sent me a Christian counselor, everyghing I prayed for God has proven, he GIVES tangible results!
Can God save someone convicted of treason by the government? Can they be forgiven and go to heaven?