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Seems like it should be such a simple concept, right? But what if forgiveness means letting go of years of hurt and sorrow? Is that even possible? 


It is a constant thread in all couples therapy. 


There’s a Greek word for forgiveness that I love: aphiemi. It means to loose (like chains) or let go. 


Western Seminary professor Ron Marrs, PhD puts it this way: “When we forgive someone with the idea of aphiemi, we let something go. We don’t bring it up again. We don’t let it take over our hearts.”


If we can’t let go, we can’t make room for something new to take the place of hurt, mistrust, and bitterness we’re experiencing. In a sense, you have to evict those terrible tenants from your heart and make space for better things to live there. 


A client recently shared a Lauren Daigle song with me that I hadn’t heard: “Don’t Believe Them.” She said listening to it flipped a switch in her heart. 


The first verse goes like this:

There are two sides to every story

The truth leaves where it don’t belong

It’s a tricky line that we’re walking 

When we’ve got so many people talking 

And nobody thinks that they’re wrong


Truer words were never spoken. There are always two sides because if there is more than one person present, there are two perspectives. 


And the last line: nobody thinks that they’re wrong. That is the root of so much hurt.


Not long after being introduced to Lauren’s song, I met with another client who has been so upset with all that is wrong with her husband. She sort of surprised me, saying, “I think it is me. My expectations for him might be too high. Maybe even unrealistic.


So we talked a lot about forgiveness. How it’s not a one-time deal, but a mantra that we turn to again and again. When he upsets her or disappoints her, she needs to share that with him, ask for what she needs, and then forgive him for what he isn’t doing. 


When years of disappointment and pain are involved, that is a tall order. 


But, as Lauren puts it so well in the first line of her chorus: 


How you gunna love someone if you don’t forgive them?


I saw both of these clients in the span of a week or two. And both came away with the same realization, basically saying, “I need to get to a place where I can forgive. I may have expectations that are too high. He can never live up to them or make up for the harm that he’s done, and I have to let it go if I’m going to stay in this relationship.”


Quick Sidenote: This example is not for couples in an abusive relationship. If you believe you are in an abusive relationship, please do reach out to us and we can help.


In our next blog, we will take a deeper look at what forgiveness means and what it doesn’t. In the meantime, who do you need to forgive? Give it a ponder.