I’m over Unforgiveness

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV)

When my sisters and I were selecting which “I’m over it” blog posts we would write, I got sulky and sullen. Everyone was enthusiastically claiming the fun topics and I remained silent.

I didn’t want to write about this. I didn’t. And yet I heard myself saying, “I’ll take unforgiveness.” Not very cheerfully. Inside, my soul was going, “Ugh.” Ugh, ugh, ugh.

I knew that God wanted to work on my heart, and sometimes that is painful. Ultimately it’s a beautiful and wonderful thing, but the process of getting there…

Can anyone say, “Ugh?”

Recognizing my unforgiveness

Here’s the deal. I’m “over” lots of things right now that have to do with faith. I’m over judgment. I’m over people proclaiming that they’re doing things in the name of Jesus—when what they’re doing looks nothing like the Jesus I know. I’m over people twisting the Word of God to protect themselves and alienate others. I’m over exclusion, hatred and division within churches. I’m angry at the Church (as in the whole body of Christ, the Church with a capital C) . I think we’ve messed up a lot of things and I’m afraid forgiving means settling for things staying the way they are. Giving them a free pass to keep this up. Giving up on change.

On top of that, I’m not sure how to forgive a collective group of nameless, faceless people. Because the Church didn’t do these things. Individual people did. Not to mention the fact that most of these things weren’t done to me.

Recognizing my God

There have been a few moments in my life when I believe I’ve heard from God, and this was one of them. I didn’t hear an audible voice, and the moment wasn’t monumental for anyone else but me. But in that instant, in the way I knew deep inside that this was a divine assignment, God did something remarkable. He told me it was time to forgive—and He managed to start that process inside me by revealing some truths.

  • I can’t hold onto this delusion that I’m right with God when my mind is in turmoil.
  • I can’t write this post and refuse to forgive the Church without being a hypocrite myself.
  • I can’t declare that I want unity among believers when my own heart feels divided.
  • I can’t claim to be a child of God when I’m not claiming Him or His people.

To tell you the truth, I don’t think my anger is misplaced. But I do believe that I have allowed it to be a wedge that has come between me and Jesus, the One I claim to love. Our faith, no matter how it might be portrayed in the media or described by those who don’t share our beliefs, is founded on love. Grace. Generosity.

It is not about other people and how they live their beliefs. Genuine Christian faith is, always has been, and always shall be about Jesus. I lost sight of that. Click To Tweet
What the Bible says about forgiveness

Forgiveness is mentioned many times in the Bible, but Eph. 4:31-32 is the verse that brought me to my knees. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

In other words, in kinder and gentler language than I would use, God was saying “get over it.”

So I will—but not on my own power. I will do it with Him, through Him, and for Him. Because I’m over a lot of things, but I’m not over Jesus. Other than head over heels over Jesus. And that’s exactly where He wants me to be.

My issues may seem tame compared to the things you’ve experienced. Some of you may be holding onto unforgiveness, too—towards your ex, maybe, or someone else who hurt you. The lover who abused you—or left you. The family member who crossed physical or emotional boundaries. The coworker who betrayed you. The mother who didn’t love you. The dad who didn’t show up—or did but you wish he hadn’t. The ungrateful child who said spiteful things, or the boss who took advantage. The church leader who manipulated you or the community that turned against you.

What makes forgiving hard to swallow is the fact that the Bible doesn’t offer us any way to get out of it. No justifications for our stubborn refusals. No disclaimers—you only have to forgive someone who is truly sorry. Nope. It’s simple and straightforward: We forgive because we have been forgiven.

We forgive because we have been forgiven. And then a divine exchange takes place—instead of being weighed down by negative emotions, we become unburdened and free. Click To Tweet

God is not asking us to give away something we haven’t already received. He’s simply asking us to take advantage of His limitless grace and let go of our unforgiveness—because it was never ours to hold onto.

Reflection Questions

Make a list or write in your journal—what situations in your life bring feelings of unresolved anger, bitterness, or resentment?

Write out a few Bible verses about forgiveness that seem to speak to you. Spend time reflecting on them, and then ask God in prayer to reveal any unforgiveness that you’re holding onto.

Prayer

Lord, the simple truth is that if You hadn’t already forgiven us, we would not even be able to approach You to talk about this. Your sacrifice on the cross was all about forgiveness—not because we “deserved” it, but because You love us. Help us to show our gratitude for this gift by turning around and forgiving someone else. We need Your help—we can only do this through the power of Your Holy Spirit—but we know that with You by our side, we can do this. We trust You to bring this to completion. Amen.

14 thoughts on “I’m over Unforgiveness

Dr Lynn Schriner

Thank you my sweet friend
Love your honesty and I love you

Reply

    Kelly O’Dell Stanley

    Thank you, Lynn. <3

    Reply

Gail Merriman

Ummm, yes, Miss Kelly! You nailed it. Love you lots….

Reply

    Kelly O’Dell Stanley

    Thanks, Gail. Love seeing you commenting on things — sure do miss you!

    Reply

Jean

Kelly, Thank you for these beautiful words on forgiveness. They certainly hit home for me. I THINK I have forgiven someone who hurt me deeply, however…..I cannot FORGET those hurtful words. They come to my mind often and I hurt all over again. Forgiveness was hard, but the other person took no responsibility in the conversation. Maybe, I have not really forgiven fully???
I have prayed for help in getting over this, I have prayed for forgiveness, I have prayed, prayed and prayed about this. I am playfully waiting for HIS help. That’s all I know how to do. Again, thank you for your sisterly words. 🙏😘

Reply

    Jean

    That’s playfully not playfully….I am sorry for the error

    Reply

      Jean

      For some reason it changes pray fully to playfully…2 times..maybe this will work!

      Reply

        Kelly O’Dell Stanley

        Don’t worry. Sometimes autocorrect has a mind of its own :-). It’s so hard to pray and turn something over to God but still feel like you can’t get past it. Adding my prayers to yours, Jean.

        Lord, Jean surrenders these feelings to you. Let her see progress. Change her heart and guard her mind so that she can truly forgive, once and for all. We know forgiving and forgetting are not the same thing—and that You forgive, and then You forget. Help us model ourselves more after You every day until one day we can let go of all the hurts and be free and whole again. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

        Reply

          Jean

          Thank you, Kelly. 🥰🙏


Cindy K Krall

“Unburdened and free!” Isn’t that the gift friend? And what a gift indeed! I love your words today but I also loved the woman in the graphic because in twenty years I’m confident you will be wearing your own bold colors as well! Much love Sis!

Reply

Rachelle

I really need this today! Thank you!

Reply

    Kelly O’Dell Stanley

    Thanks, Rachelle. <3

    Reply

Amy

Hello Kelly. I just read through your column. I lived what you said. I’m a recovering alcoholic, and I just finished my fourth step that deals with writing out my resentment, fears… Hard to list the things I have resented and feared. But by God’s forgiveness, I am a strong, fearless person today.

Reply

    Kelly O’Dell Stanley

    Amy, I love your comments. You’ve lived it out and are trusting God. That’s amazing. Because WITH GOD we can do things we could never do on our own. <3

    Reply

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