3 Things Forgiveness Can Never Do

Welcome to my blog. I’m a psychologist and the co-author (with Gary Chapman) of When Sorry Isn’t Enough. I share tips about What to Say When challenging conversations arise and I welcome your thoughts and questions. I’ll check back in frequently to chime in on the conversations here.

Sorry on Australia Day-sky writing, National A...


Forgiveness Does Not Heal Everything. We often have the mistaken idea that forgiveness will wipe the slate clean. Let me share three things that forgiveness does not do.

(1) Forgiveness does not remove all the consequences of wrongdoing. The father who abandons his children may repent ten years later, but forgiveness does not restore the ten years of void.

(2) Forgiveness does not immediately restore trust. Once trust is violated, it must be rebuilt by the person being trustworthy. If that happens, then over time trust will be restored.

(3) Forgiveness does not remove the offense from one’s memory. It does mean that you choose not to hold the offense against them.Forgiveness does not change the past, but it d...

Apologies and forgiveness can be awkward. They can feel painful. In the long run, however, they give an immeasurable payoff: peace and connection with others. The starting point for forgiveness is a good apology. For pointers on giving a complete apology, read my blog post here.


Your Turn:

What do you think forgiveness can and cannot do?



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  • Darlene Boudreau

    All three were wonderful.
    1. Restitution and or penalty.
    2. Accountibility
    3.Offender extending grace to the offended ones memory without retaliation.

  • Diane Kennedy

    Forgiveness cannot change the behavior of the offender. It can help though.

    Forgiveness CAN set you free from erosion that is caused by bitterness.

    • darleneboudreau

      So true Diane because the forgiveness is from YOU. It is the YOU (me) set free.

    • Susan Donoho

      It takes Strength to be able to forgive to get rid of the bitterness. If someone is able to forgive I believe it is a Gift from God – because forgiveness is so difficult with big big wounds. People who are healthy and not in pain, who lack compassion are trite to those who are. Be careful to approach wounded people with compassion, and kind words that don’t demand more from them.,, give some space for understanding them.