56 Questions About Forgiveness And Their Answers

People often ask me the same questions about forgiveness. I will address 56 of them within 12 categories. Click on the topic, and it will lead you to a list of related questions and their answers:


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About forgiveness

Questions in this section:

  • How do you define forgiveness?
  • What is the relationship between love and forgiveness?
  • Do I choose to forgive?
  • What happens to my offender when I forgive?

1.  How do you define forgiveness?

When we get hurt, we form a bond with the offender and the offense. Forgiveness is the process of cutting the link created by harm, thus setting us free.

2.  What is the relationship between love and forgiveness?

We create bonds when we love and when we get hurt. While love creates good feelings, hurts create fear and stress. They are mutually exclusive. When we forgive, we severe the bondage to the hurt and make us available for love. When we do not forgive, we diminish our capacity for love. Our heart hardens.

3.  Do I choose to forgive?

Forgiveness is an active act. We must initiate it with a conscious decision. Forgiveness never comes by itself or time.

4.  What happens to my offender when I forgive?

Holding a grudge messes up our lives and relationships. Grudges never create repentance by the wrong-doer. They do not affect our offender in any way as long as we do not become an aggressor ourselves. While we may not sleep at night, the wrong-doer only tosses in bed when he or she is disturbed by his or her conscience. Hence, the only one who gets harmed by grudges are the grudge-holders themselves. It creates a double whammy: we get harmed by the offender first, then we double down ourselves with the impact of the grudges.


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An overview of why we need to forgive

Questions in this section:

  • Why do we have to forgive?
  • Why should I forgive a person who has hurt me?
  • Why is forgiveness important?
  • Do you do yourself a favor when you forgive?
  • Why do people not forgive?

5.  Why do we have to forgive? 

A bond is created between the harmed and the offender when we get hurt.  As long as the link exists, we experience the event over and over again. Fear and stress take over our existence. We have less room for love and good feelings. At some point, we start talking bad about the offender, thinking about revenge, sometimes taking revenge. We become aggressors ourselves. The sin of others makes us sin. Only forgiveness can free us from this vicious circle. Forgiveness is the protection against temptation and sin. Of course, there is also the requirement by God to forgive. More about this later.

6.  Why should I forgive a person who has hurt me?

Forgiveness is never about the aggressor. It is always about ourselves. We never can change the past. What happened is set in stone. Our grudges will not change the position or actions of the offender. We never gain anything from getting even and becoming an aggressor. On the contrary, our grudges and responses may even justify the offender. At that point, the offender has a quadruple win: we get hurt by the initial harm, followed by our grudges, then by our guilt and shame, which is topped with the justification by the wrong-doer. Forgiveness protects us from getting hurt over and over again, from becoming an aggressor, and from the justification of the initial harm.

7.  Why is forgiveness important? 

Since forgiveness separates the bond to the aggressor, forgiveness stops the constant reliving of the aggression. It sets us free to use our thoughts in more productive ways. It takes significant energy to deal with the constant flashes from the past. We cannot live the full opportunities of our lives. Forgiveness allows us to cut the bondage, to stop the flashbacks, and to gain energy and move forward. In sum, it gives us back our lives and lets us move forward.

8.  Do you do yourself a favor when you forgive?

Forgiveness allows us to cut the bonds to the aggressor, to stop the flashbacks, to gain energy and to move forward in our lives. It is important to note that these effects impact our health and our relationships. By eliminating the continuous secretion of stress hormones, we decrease illnesses related to stress. By removing the constant negative thoughts and softening of our hearts, we become friendlier and open to love and relationships.

9.  Why do people not forgive?

Forgiving is hard. We need to take a close look at everything that happened. Sometimes it is easier to blame somebody than to go through the full forgiveness process. Moreover, some people require the sinner to ask for forgiveness. While this shows repentance and makes the forgiving easier, it is however not necessary. We are not dependent on anybody for our well-being!


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Why we need to forgive in these cases

Questions in this section:

  • Why do we need to forgive someone when they know what they are doing?
  • Why should you forgive instead of holding a grudge?
  • How does forgiveness impact your health?

10.  Why do we need to forgive someone when they know what they are doing?

Holding on to a grudge does not impact the life of a wrong-doer in any way unless we also become sinners. As for our need to forgive, it does not matter whether we got hurt on purpose or by accident. However, the quick resolution is more critical when the wrong-doer planned the harm. The risk to take vengeance, to become an aggressor, and to sin is much higher in this situation. Forgiveness becomes more difficult once we become guilty.

11.  Why should you forgive instead of holding a grudge?

Holding a grudge has severe implications for our lives. Results from the Blessing Blocker Test shows that grudges impact our relationships with people and God and increase the risk to get even. Moreover, we stay focused on the harm suffered and relive it over and over again. It destroys our health and our future. Given that nobody gains anything from our grudge other than our enemy, we must decide to forgive. We can save our lives and move on.

12.  How does forgiveness impact your health?

We are subject to stress hormones when we think about the harm we experienced. When we mull over the offense over and over again, we continuously expose us to the stress hormones and their physical consequences. Our energy gets drained when we fight memories or try to cover them up. We are too tired to exercise or communicate with people. We isolate ourselves. The emotions we face from the hurt and the cover-up have psychological consequences. Forgiveness removes these consequences and restores our health.


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An overview of the process of forgiving

Questions in this section:

  • What are the steps in forgiving?
  • How do we forgive people who have wronged us?
  • How do you know if you have forgiven?
  • How long does it take to forgive?

13.  What are the steps in forgiving?

The process starts by realizing that the hurt we suffered is an unhealed wound in our soul. The goal of forgiveness is to heal this would. Like physical wounds, we need to inspect and clean it before it can get well. Once we have removed all the pus, we promote the healing. Wounds that have not healed properly form scars that can create wide-ranging problems. We need to remove them. Hence, the process involves these three steps: cleaning, healing, scar removal.

14.  How do we forgive people who have wronged us?

The first step is to recognize the person who has hurt us and the wound the person created. We clean this wound before applying some healing cream and removing the scars. We transpose the process of the physical healing to the healing of the soul. While we go through the process, we pray not only for ourselves but also for the wrong-doer.

15.  How do you know if you have forgiven?

The sign that the forgiveness is complete is the ability to move on. We do not dwell on the harm and wrong-doer again. However, initially, after we complete the forgiveness process, out of habit, we are still tempted to go back and reopen the wound. Giving in to the temptation soils the work we’ve done. It makes everything worse. Hence, we need to train our minds to change the focus of such thinking.

16.  How long does it take to forgive?

Contrary to common belief, it does not take years to forgive someone. In fact, it only takes a few sessions to go through the process. The process can be longer if there are hidden scars. It is essential to leave a healed wound alone and not to dwell and reopen it. Hence, lengthy processes are counterproductive and make matters worse.


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The process of forgiving in these cases

Questions in this section:

  • How to forgive someone who is not sorry?
  • How do I forgive someone for betrayal?
  • How do you forgive in a marriage?
  • How do I forgive someone if they do not ask for forgiveness?
  • How do I forgive someone who does not recognize they hurt me?
  • How do you forgive someone who is not present anymore?
  • How do I learn to forgive someone for whom I do not care?
  • How do I forgive someone I do not know?
  • How do I forgive someone I despise?
  • How do you forgive yourself?
  • How do I forgive when I do not know what happened?

17.  How to forgive someone who is not sorry?

The overall forgiveness process is the same: cleaning, healing, scar removal. Usually, we need to remove more scars when the wrong-doer is not sorry. Hence, the process takes longer and is emotionally more involved.

18.  How do I forgive someone for betrayal?

The overall forgiveness process is the same: cleaning, healing, scar removal. If the betrayal impacts our trust in other people and God, the scar removal takes longer. Moreover, we need to add some trust-building activities.

19.  How do you forgive in a marriage?

The overall forgiveness process is the same: cleaning, healing, scar removal. However, we form scars more quickly in a marriage. Moreover, most of the time both parties have some involvement. Hence, both parties need to go through the forgiveness process. Additionally, the relationship may have been destroyed by the event. We need to mend it. While we each forgive individually, we rebuild our relationships jointly.

20.  How do I forgive someone if they do not ask for forgiveness?

The overall forgiveness process is the same: cleaning, healing, scar removal. Usually, we need to remove more scars when the wrong-doer does not ask for forgiveness. Hence, the process takes longer and is emotionally more involved.

21.  How do I forgive someone who does not recognize they hurt me?

The overall forgiveness process is the same: cleaning, healing, scar removal. Even if the person does not recognize the harm they created, we still can and must forgive them. Remember, we forgive for the sake of ourselves and not for the wrong-doer, who seems to have a different value system.

22.  How do you forgive someone who is not present anymore?

The overall forgiveness process is the same: cleaning, healing, scar removal. Going through the forgiveness process is more comfortable when the wrong-doer is not present. It freezes the harmful situation without adding to it. It also helps to speed up the process.

23.  How do I learn to forgive someone for whom I do not care?

The overall forgiveness process is the same: cleaning, healing, scar removal. We forgive for the sake of ourselves and not the other person. Hence, it does not matter whether we care about the person or not. The benefits of forgiving are ours, not the wrong-doers.

24.  How do I forgive someone I do not know?

The overall forgiveness process is the same: cleaning, healing, scar removal. While overall it does not matter whether we know the wrong-doer or not, in practice it has several advantages but also sticky points. It can be beneficial to imagine rather than to see the motivation of the wrong-doer. The disadvantage may be that we may not be sure that the event will not happen again. If so, we need to learn about protection as well.

25.  How do I forgive someone I despise?

The overall forgiveness process is the same: cleaning, healing, scar removal. While victims often build contempt for the wrong-doer, it is a sin and hardens our hearts. Hence, the forgiveness process becomes more difficult since we need not only forgive the other person but also ourselves.

26.  How do you forgive yourself?

The tricky part of forgiving ourselves is that we are both aggressor and victim. In this case, we need to deal with the sin, our wrong-doing, first. Once we have repented, we can start the forgiveness process the same way we do for someone else. Be kind to yourself!

27.  How do I forgive when I do not know what happened?

The best way to go about this situation is to figure out what happened. Once we know, we can follow the regular forgiving process. However, if this is not possible, we go through the process with the limited knowledge we have. Moreover, we start by focusing on the scars since they may be the only indicators that the event even happened.


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I cannot forgive!

Questions in this section:

  • Why can’t I forgive?
  • When someone forgives, why do they still talk about it?
  • Why is it hard to forgive?
  • Why do people not forgive?
  • Why is it so hard to forgive deep hurts?

28.  Why can’t I forgive?

The goal of forgiveness is to cut the bond to the wrong-doer. There are several reasons you can’t forgive:

  • Anger, hurt, contempt, and other emotions take over. We need to deal with these emotions first before we can forgive. The good part is that dealing with them is also part of the forgiveness process. The negative part is that these intense feelings tend to form scars.
  • We don’t go all the way in the forgiveness process. We may clean it, but we don’t heal it. Moreover, the last step may be missing. If we do not remove the scars, the bond still exists.
  • The forgiveness process is incomplete.  Some infestation may not be evident at the time we go through it. Once we uncover it, we clean the wound from the issue, heal it and remove the scars.
  • We keep stirring the wound. When we go back in our thinking to the parts we have dealt with, we reinfect the injury. It negates our work. However, a proper forgiveness process helps to deal with the temptation or habit of reinfection.
  • We are still exposed to the harmful person and do not trust that we will not get hurt again. Depending on the situation, trust-building or relationship work is needed.
  • We may not want to forgive because being a victim gives us power. This position is dangerous since we become aggressors when we misuse the harm.
  • We may not want to go through the process because it lays bare some of our behaviors.
  • We may not want to go through the process because it is too hurtful, involved, or any other reason.

29.  When someone forgives, why do they still talk about it?

Several reasons exist why someone may still talk about the wrong committed against them even after going through the forgiving process:

  • Forgiveness did not happen or is incomplete. If this is the case, see the answers to the previous question.
  • Forgiveness may be complete, but the trust is gone, and we may be afraid of getting hurt again. Trust and relationship building is required. While it is the victim’s responsibility to forgive, it is the responsibility of the wrong-doer to recreate this trust. To safeguard the relationship, the offender needs to do everything it takes to achieve this goal.

30.  Why is it hard to forgive?

Forgiveness is deep and involved. Superficial work does not work. Lying does not work. The process requires decisions, actions, emotions, and trust. We can stumble in any of them.

  • We need to be willing to let go.
  • We need to be willing to go through all kind of emotions.
  • We need to go through the entire forgiveness process.
  • There are several steps in the process.
  • We need to deal with feelings.
  • We need to deal with our responsibility.
  • We need to keep going until we finished forgiving.
  • We need to trust the process.

31.  Why do people not forgive?

We may not want to forgive for various reasons:

  • We don’t know how to forgive.
  • The process seems to be too hard.
  • We do not like to go through all the emotions.
  • We think we forgive for the benefits of the wrong-doer, which is false.
  • We like being the victim. It gives us power, which is dangerous.
  • We do not want to take responsibility for our involvement.
  • We think forgiveness comes by itself through time, which is false.

32.  Why is it so hard to forgive deep hurts?

Deep hurts require to deal with many emotions. It is a painful act. Moreover, they often create large scars that disturb the picture. We often sin as well. It is hard to be friendly to a wrong-doer and not to bath-mouth him or her.


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Forgive and forget?

Questions in this section:

  • Will I forget, if I forgive?
  • Do I choose to forget?
  • Should we forgive and forget?

33.  Will I forget, if I forgive?

Forgiving does not mean forgetting. We will always remember the harmful act. However, forgiveness cuts the bondage to the harm so we will not continuously remember it. It changes the focus from the past to the future. It sets us free.

34.  Do I choose to forget?

We never force ourselves to forget. It creates additional and long-term harm. When we forgive, we do not forget but change the focus.

35.  Should we forgive and forget?

Forgiving does not mean forgetting. When we force ourselves not to think about the event and the wrong-doer without forgiving, we push the hurt into the subconscious. Deep scars build up and bury the injury.  However, the harm surfaces at times and creates havoc. The scabs also impact our lives negatively. On the other hand, we may forget the forgiven event with time. Given that it is not pushed into the subconsciousness it cannot create any additional harm.


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When we do not forgive

Questions in this section:

  • What happens when I do not forgive?
  • The effects of holding grudges over time
  • How do grudges change a family?
  • How do grudges change old age and death?

36.  What happens when I do not forgive?

When we do not forgive, we stay bonded to the harm. We continuously relive the harmful event. We experience the associated feelings again and again. It creates stress in our lives and hardens our hearts. Our physical and our psychological health gets negatively impacted. Moreover, we destroy our relationships ability to love. By focusing on the past, we miss out on the present and the future. Overall, we ruin our lives and our future when we do not forgive.

37.  The effects of holding grudges over time

When we hold grudges over time, we miss out on life. We stay put in the moment of the hurt. We sound like a broken record, repeating the same thing over and over. Our hearts become hard. We focus on ourselves and become narcissistic. Deep relationships become difficult. Marriages and friendships break. We hurt people without realizing it. New relationships are superficial. There is no room for love or compassion anymore. The “smell” of unfinished business is so strong that people stay away as much as possible. We forget what is right and wrong. We become isolated and vengeful. We may become evil.

38.  How do grudges change a family?

Grudges are a disaster and a death sentence for a family. Noone can live happily ever after with someone who is narcissistic, has no compassion, is not capable of love, and is hurtful. The relationship either ends in divorce or becomes a marriage of convenience. The relationship is so stressful that the individuals destroy each other, physically and emotionally. Children of such marriages are exposed to the stress and will most likely leave home at their earliest opportunity. They will also need to deal with the impact later on.

39.  How do grudges change old age and death?

Unforgiven hurts will most likely be banned into the unconscious part of our soul to manage the stress. However, as we get old and get ready for eternity, we need to deal with all these hurts. Unfortunately, by that time, the scars are so thick that it is incredibly painful and difficult to resolve the issues. When we are not able to acquire the skills of forgiving when we are by full mental capacity, how can we expect it to grasp it when our mental state is impaired? It is excruciating to see an old person subconsciously dealing with their grudges. I only hope that everybody deals with them while they are mentally fit.


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How to ask for forgiveness

Questions in this section:

  • How do I ask for forgiveness?
  • How do you know if you have been forgiven?
  • Can I force someone to forgive me?

40.  How do I ask for forgiveness?

When we are the wrong-doer, we need to ask for forgiveness to deal with our sins. I will not go more into this topic because it requires more room than this paragraph. However, the question of how we ask for forgiveness is part of this post’s topic. Moreover, we all sin and need to ask for forgiveness at times. We better learn how to do it. Here are the steps I recommend for regular hurts:

  • Acknowledge you harmed and created sorrow.
  • Sincerely apologize for it.
  • Listen to how it affected the person hurt.
  • Listen as long as it takes. You created pain, you need to join the suffering!
  • Be humble and ask for forgiveness.
  • Ask how you can make up for the hurt you created.
  • Follow up on the answer and exceed all expectation.
  • Be humble and a servant as long as it takes.

41.  How do you know if you have been forgiven?

We know that the negative link we created with our victim is gone when:

  • The tension between us subsides
  • Our conversations become normal
  • We focus on the future again
  • Our love is rekindled

42.  Can I force someone to forgive me?

The same way we cannot force anybody to love us, we cannot force anybody to forgive us. Expecting or requiring forgiveness feels like another violation. It is bossy, pushy and will create hate. So, let’s not do it! The decision to forgive is the victim’s alone. It cannot be required or expected, only hoped and begged for. Moreover, the only way to speed it up is to make up for more than the harm and to be patient.


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Forgiveness in the Bible

Questions in this section: 

  • Is forgiveness required?
  • Does God forgive anything?
  • Is it correct that I need to forgive before praying?
  • Is forgiveness similar to judgment and condemnation?
  • How often should we forgive?
  • Do we need to forgive if the trespasses continue?
  • How many times do I need to forgive when the wrong-doer repents?
  • How do I ask God to forgive my sins?
  • How do I know if God has forgiven me?

43.  Is forgiveness required?

God requires us to forgive. Jesus could not have been more explicit than this statement:

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)

44.  Does God forgive anything?

God forgives anything within the realm of our earthly existence. However, he will not forgive us when we hurt Him:

And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Matthew 12:31, NIV

45.  Is it correct that I need to forgive before praying?

We must forgive everybody before praying:

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.  Mark 11:25, NIV

46.  Is forgiveness similar to judgment and condemnation?

We need to do to others what we want to be done to us:

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Luke 6:37, NIV

47.  How often should we forgive?

Forgiveness is always the solution:

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.  Matthew 18:21-22, NIV

48.  Do we need to forgive if the trespasses continue?

Forgiveness is always the solution even if the same thing happens to you over and over again. (However, you may want to learn to better protect yourself).

Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”  Luke 17:4, NIV

49.  How many times do I need to forgive when the wrong-doer repents?

Forgiveness is the always the solution when asked for, but we do not have to be doormats:

So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”  Luke 17:3-4, NIV

50.  How do I ask God to forgive my sins?

Jesus also tells us how to ask God for forgiveness in the Lord’s prayer: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Of course, we can be more precise in our prayer, but Jesus told us how we should be praying:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Matthew 6:9-13, NIV

51.  How do I know if God has forgiven me?

The Bible tells us that we know that we have been forgiven when we can love again:

Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”  Luke 7:47, NIV


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I need help or my group needs help in forgiving

Questions in this section:

  • How can I get help in the forgiveness process?
  • Can your process be used with groups?
  • Can my life coach use this method?

52.  How can I get help in the forgiveness process?

I would be happy to guide you through the forgiveness process. You can order individual coaching through the order page. It can be done by phone or in intensive coaching sessions lasting two days.

53.  Can your process be used with groups?

The process also works with groups. If you would like to offer your church or any other group an intensive forgiveness coaching sessions, contact me. Let’s talk.

54.  Can my life coach use this method?

If you would like to use this method in a guided way but do not want to get a new Christian life coach, tell him or her to contact me. I provide licenses to selected Christian life coaches.


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Teaching my methodology

Questions in this section:

  • What are the advantages of the Steiner Forgiveness Process?
  • Do you teach other life coaches your forgiveness process?

55.  What are the advantages of the Steiner Forgiveness Process?

The coaching process renders quick results. It is clear guidance and help. The program includes several worksheets to be used in the three steps: clean, heal, and remove scars.

56.  Do you teach other life coaches your forgiveness process?

The world needs more forgiveness. I am happy to teach my forgiveness process to other Christian life coaches. Contact me. Let’s talk.


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Read other posts

Four Ways that Holding a Grudge Messes Up our Lives and How to Fix It
Hope, Faith, and Love versus Anxiety, Worries, and Indifference
Unblocking and Handling the Blessings
Basics of Human Relationships
The Lord’s PrayerThe Prayer Pyramid
Read other posts…

Contact Katharina Steiner

Thanks for reading this long post. I love to hear from you. Contact me to ask questions, to provide feedback, or to tell me anything else you have on your mind. I also appreciate you commenting on this page.

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