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Forgiving What You Can't Forget

Discover How to Move On, Make Peace with Painful Memories, and Create a Life That’s Beautiful Again

By Lysa TerKeurst
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Forgiving What You Can't Forget by Lysa TerKeurst

Forgiving What You Can’t Forget (2020) is a guide to healing from past hurt. Drawing from her experiences of abuse in her childhood and infidelity in her marriage, author Lysa TerKeurst offers up ways to make peace with painful memories through forgiveness.

Key idea 1 of 8

In order to heal, you must first forgive.

Have you ever felt so heartbroken that you thought you would never heal? 

This is how the author felt when she found out that her husband, Art, had been cheating on her. 

For weeks and months after she found this out, she couldn’t help wishing she could be put under anesthetic – like a patient awaiting surgery in hospital. That way, she wouldn’t have to deal with the heartbreak and shock that had affected her life and the lives of her children. 

However, after some time had passed, the author realized that holding on to her pain wasn’t getting her anywhere. To recover from the trauma, she had to learn how to forgive the man who had wronged her.

The key message here is: In order to heal, you must first forgive.

When the author was in the depths of despair, forgiveness seemed like the hardest thing to do. She thought that learning to forgive would be like fighting an everlasting battle on her own. But after a while, she realized that God would be there to help. 

In the Bible, Ephesians 4:7 says that Jesus allows grace to flow freely through us – to help us learn how to forgive one another. The author interpreted the passage to mean this: our ability to forgive isn’t dependent on our own will, but on our ability to cooperate with the Lord. 

As human beings, we find forgiveness tough. When people wrong us, our first reaction isn’t to bless them or offer them consolation. Instead, we sometimes use our hurt as an excuse to hurt them back.

God knew that humans couldn’t learn to forgive people all on their own. That’s why He made a way for us to forgive other people that wasn’t dependent on our own strength. When we’re hurting – and all we want to do is run and hide – God takes the wheel. He forgives the wrongs that we would never be strong enough to make right.

So forgiveness isn’t always about doing something for a human relationship. It’s about being obedient to what God has instructed us to do. When we cooperate most fully with God’s work of forgiveness, we give up the desire to make others suffer for what they’ve done – and in return, we get the freedom to move on. 

So if you’re feeling like there’s no way out of your misery, take God’s hand. As the words of forgiveness are released from your lips, you’ll begin to walk the path to healing. 

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