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Choosing Forgiveness, by Lynn Kinnaman

Sep 7th, 2009 | By | Category: Coaching Women - Guest Posts
Lynn Kinnamen

Lynn Kinnaman

Choosing Forgiveness, by Lynn Kinnaman

In every Divorce Care group I’ve facilitated, the idea of forgiveness is a hotly debated topic. Participants know they must forgive, but they don’t want to do it.  

Resistance is reinforced by the belief that to forgive, they must also forget. They worry that to forget would be condoning the behavior or possibly opening the door to additional pain.

But what are we supposed to forget? I think when we forgive, the forgetting applies to the desire for revenge or justice. Not forgetting what happened, because our experience gives us valuable insight for our future actions.

If you put your hand on a hot stove, the wound would heal, but hopefully you wouldn’t forget the stove is dangerous and you must be cautious. It’s the same with a situation. In order to forgive as God would have us do, we don’t need to erase the memory, we need to redefine it. Understand the lesson, but let go of the hurt.

That still leaves a difficult task. Forgiveness is not easy and it’s not instant.

If the damage is intense, the very idea of forgiveness seems unattainable. Encourage them to begin where they can, knowing God will meet them there. Sometimes the best place to start is to pray for the desire to forgive.

Forgiveness is a choice, not an emotion. The desire leads to decision, which is where it happens. They still may not feel like forgiving, but they chose to forgive anyway. The feelings will catch up later.

The decision is not a single act, done once, forever. They may find themselves reverting to old thought patterns, then having to repeat the process. That’s not failure, it’s human nature. Forgive and backtrack. Forgive again and finally succeed.

There’s an old saying that harboring resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It’s caustic; polluting relationships and preventing recovery.

Unwillingness is overcome once people realize the power of forgiveness and understand what it does and doesn’t mean. It allows them to make the choice, and choosing forgiveness is the only way to regain a healthy, whole life.


Lynn Kinnaman is a certified coach with Life Purpose Coaching Centers International® and a DivorceCare facilitator. She’s a published author, most recently in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Divorce and Recovery, and specializes in coaching women who have life experiences similar to her own, such as:  divorce, death of a loved one, financial setbacks, challenges of mentally ill family members and aging parents. To contact Lynn, please visit

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