When You Have to Forgive Again

by | Jun 11, 2019 | Forgiveness | 20 comments

I merrily pumped our backyard seesaw oblivious to any hazard. My small foot slipped, and the rusty edge of the pedal carved a long, jagged gouge across my right ankle. Pain seared through me like a lightning bolt. I didn’t think it could get worse—until my mother appeared with soap, water, and a bottle of red mercurochrome.

The first cleaning was the worst. But my wound continued to weep after it was bandaged. This wound had to be cleaned over and over again.

In our forgiveness series, we’re spelling Freedom. The O in FREEDOM stands for Over and Over.

Forgiveness Cleans Our Wounds

Forgiveness cleans our personal injuries like soap and water disinfect a physical wound. And like my childhood injury, some personal hurts require more than one washing to heal. Sometimes we have to forgive Over and over again (Matt. 18:21-22).

Forgiveness cleans our personal injuries like soap and water disinfect a physical wound. #forgive Share on X

Years ago, I read an article in a well-respected Christian periodical that said you can tell you have not truly forgiven if you still hurt. I had tried to forgive someone who continued to cause my family suffering. This article discouraged me. I’d chosen to forgive, not retaliate, and turn the person over to God, but the pain remained.

Now I know the author was wrong. If someone kicks your shin and your body doesn’t hurt that is not a good thing. And you expect the pain from a knife between the ribs to last longer than a kick in the shin. When you forgive an offense, whether it was intentional or accidental, the pain doesn’t just stop.

That is true for personal wounds too. Forgiving a wrong cleanses the wound so we will heal without bitterness. But forgiving doesn’t instantly heal us or eradicate pain. And the bigger the loss, the longer it may take to heal.

Some Wounds Require Repeated Cleansing

The “Christian” builder of one of our homes never paid us back for our kitchen cabinets and the other expenses we paid out of pocket to finish the house. After we moved in, his subs appeared at our door demanding to be paid. His lack of supervision left us with creaky floors and work that had to be redone. Over a span of years, we suffered from his irresponsibility each time we had to pay someone to take care of things he had botched. Every time irritation over this needless cost and inconvenience seeped into my consciousness I had to forgive again.

That loss is small compared to the wife whose husband left their marriage for another woman or the child killed by a drunk driver. Daily reminders keep these losses alive.

Deep wounds often throb even after they appear to be healed. Unexpected pangs jar us when a chance meeting or conversation pokes a wound.

We Forgive; God Heals

Joseph suffered over and over again after his brothers sold him into slavery. Their betrayal cost him thirteen years in slavery and prison and twenty years of separation from his beloved father and brother. Genesis 45:2-8 and 50:15-21 show the deep emotions Joseph felt years after forgiving and reconciling with his brothers.

Thankfully, most wounds are forgiven and forgotten. However wounds mend at different rates. If one continues to seep pain and bitterness even after you forgive, don’t beat yourself up. Just clean your wound again. How often? As often as the toxins seep into your consciousness.

Every time we forgive, we heal a little more. And more healing makes the need for cleansing less frequent. Forgiveness is God’s provision to clean our wounds. And healing comes in His timing, not ours.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble and He saved them from their distress. He sent forth His word and healed them,” (Psalm 107:19-20).

Next week we’ll look at how to Manage our relationship with unsafe people.

Share your thoughts here.



Find the first post in the forgiveness series here. Continue the series with How to Move Forward after You Forgive.

Do You Have to Forgive and Forget to Get Over the Pain?

What Frodo Teaches Us About Forgiveness

Photo by Zoey Tian on Unsplash

Sometimes I link with these great sites:

#Kelly Balarie & Friends#Recharge Wednesday, #TuneinThursaday, #HeartEncouragment #Dance with Jesus, #FreshMarketFriday, #Grace&Truth, #Faith ‘n Friends

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  1. Sara Finley

    Hi Debbie,

    Great insights on forgiving, forgetting and the possibility of long term pain!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Sara! I think this confuses some people.

  2. Ann Musico

    Thank you for sharing this Debbie. It truly helps remove any feelings of failure and shame if we have forgiven and still feel pain.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you Ann. The injured who forgives certainly shouldn’t be shamed for continuing to feel pain.

  3. Melissa Henderson

    Yes, every time we forgive, we heal more. I have learned this through my own experience of forgiving. Great message.

    • Debbie Wilson

      It gives us hope to press on, doesn’t it, Melissa? Thanks for adding your story.

  4. Ann


    This is one of, if not the, best teachings on forgiveness I’ve ever had the privilege of reading. I intend to print several copies for people I minister to in the area of healing, both emotional and physical. Thank you.

    With respect, honor and love,
    Ann Johnson

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Ann, and glory to God!

  5. Julie Lavender

    I like the reminder, “Every time we forgive, we heal a little more.” Thank you for this very important message, Debbie.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Julie.

  6. J.D. Wininger

    Seventy times seven my friend; and I’ve found that sometimes that’s just for the same instance. Have learned through the years that the more I release myself to God’s forgiveness, the fewer times I have to rehash the same grievance in my mind and forgive again. I get upset at myself for having to “forgive in stages” sometimes, but we all keep learning to be better. God’s blessings; and thank you for this wonderful post ma’am.

    • Debbie Wilson

      J. D., I used to think the seventy times seven referred to different offenses. And it can. But I too have found it is ofen for the same offense that affects us in different ways at different times. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  7. Colleen Swindoll-Thompson

    What a great reminder. Something we all have to deal with!

  8. Debbie Wilson

    Thank you, Colleen. Are you related to Chuck Swindoll? He was our beloved pastor when we lived in Southern California.

  9. Aimee Imbeau

    Thank you so much for linking this post up with Grace & Truth, Debbie. I am working through forgiving again…again. I chose your post as my feature this week. Stop by for the I Was Featured button if you’d like to add it to your post.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Aimee! What a blessing. Thanks for your ministry.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thanks, Ashley!

  10. Yvonne

    I love your honesty and transparency, Debbie, and you always take us back to God’s Truth. You don’t make up your truth.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Yvonne.

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