“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mk 11:25

“And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Mt 6:12

These statements are so, so simple to say, and easy enough to practice until we are faced with a true transgression, a friend or family member who has wronged us in a way we cannot even wrap our brains around. Sometimes it may have been intentional. Others, it may have been done mindlessly. This person, though they may not have meant to harm you, may still feel they have done no wrong, or feel unable to apologize out of pride. In these instances, forgiveness is not merely a momentary action but can become a long-term struggle, taking every ounce of your strength to muster it.

In these cases, there are four things that will help you to forgive.

  1. “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.” – This usually stops me dead in my tracks. My anger loses momentum when I think of all the friends I have wronged in large and small ways, whether in action or in a simple look of disgust.
  2. Walk a mile in their shoes. – Even if you know they are wrong, you can reconcile at least with the fact that they are enduring some kind of internal struggle, where they actually believe they are right, or are having difficulty admitting it. This is a legitimate and common human struggle, of which we are all guilty to some degree.
  3. “I forgive you for God.” – You do not forgive because your transgressor “earned” it. You must forgive because you are kind, and because you yourself have been subject to forgiveness you did not earn.
  4. “I forgive you for me.” – Spare yourself the heartache. The day you get over this is the day you can move on with your life.

There, now doesn’t that feel better? Once you’ve truly forgiven, it becomes easier to do it again. Letting things roll off your shoulders, though to some considered passive, is the true nature of God, and the message Jesus left behind.