you choose Q: how do i get a close family member to forgive me?

Q: I am baffled by a close family member who is unwilling to forgive me for past hurts. How can I work through this with him?  —Carol

A: Carol, I can see why you would be baffled as to what is going on. My guess is that the role you played in negative experiences in the past seems to have triggered more hurt for him than for you, and he hasn’t been able to come to a place of forgiveness. He seems stuck in seeing you exclusively through the prism of the pain.

This is in direct conflict with the heart of forgiveness Jesus calls us to live out (Matthew 6:12; Luke 11:4). And if you’ve genuinely repented and sought forgiveness from your family member, Jesus calls him to work toward restoring his relationship with you (Luke 17:3-4).

Obviously, this has and continues to be painful and challenging to you. So I would encourage you to continue to seek the counsel of others as you move forward—particularly from mature believers in Jesus who have experience or training in helping believers move from conflict to relationship restoration.  —Jeff Olson

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One Response to “you choose Q: how do i get a close family member to forgive me?”

  1. mike wittmer says:

    This is great advice Jeff. So much depends on the offense that it’s hard to know if Carol should be “baffled” by the reluctance to forgive or not. Carol, I would only add that you cannot take responsibility for the other person. All you can do is repent–own what you did–and leave it to God to work on their heart. It’s also important not to think, or leave the impression, that you have the right to their forgiveness. They must forgive as God forgave them, but they may feel victimized again if they feel that you think forgiveness is owed to you. I’m not saying this is true in your case, but it’s something we all need to watch out for.

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