How Do You Forgive Someone Who Hurts You Continuously?

forgiveness - Jesus covers His face
How do we forgive repeated transgressions?

Christians talk a lot about the importance of forgiveness and how the act of forgiveness sets the forgiver free, but how do you forgive someone who hurts you continuously? It is not an easy question.

As an abuse survivor, I forgave my abuser many years ago. I understand that he probably didn’t have a great life and probably struggled with demons that I, thankfully, will never know. I now know that whatever horror the abuser was before can be washed clean by the blood of Jesus and so I can honestly wish him nothing but the best God has to offer.

But that abuse was decades ago, which makes it completely different from forgiving someone who causes recent pain or forgiving someone who hurts you time and time again. Forgiving frequent transgressions is much more difficult.

Examples of Biblical Forgiveness:

Anyone asking how to forgive someone who hurts you continuously needs only to look to Jesus for answers.

Jesus tells the woman convicted of adultery to, “go and sin no more” (John 8:1-11). We must forgive those who have sinned against us, but how do we forgive when that sin occurs on a daily basis? How do you forgive someone who hurts you over and over again? How do you forgive those who do not follow the, “go and sin no more,” part of the forgiveness Jesus offers the woman?

Jesus knows it is not easy to forgive repeatedly, and yet, He still tells us this is what we need to do. In fact, Jesus does more than tell us to forgive those who hurt us. Jesus lives forgiveness. In His own life, through His own example, we witness Jesus forgiving those who hurt Him over and over again.

Think of Jesus’ power of forgiveness. Start with what we celebrate this Christmas season – the arrival of that innocent Baby lying in a manger. Is there any greater picture of innocence than a sleeping newborn? That is how Jesus chose to enter our cruel world, and yet immediately His persecution began.

King Herod ordered His execution even before Jesus had spoken an earthly word. As a child, Mary and Joseph questioned Jesus for teaching in the temple. Later, His beloved disciples doubted him during storms at sea, during the feeding of 5000, and during so many other events.

Hurt is worst when it is inflicted by those we love, and time and time again those close to Jesus chose to doubt and question Him. Often, emotional blows hurt as badly or worse than physical ones.

Jesus’ hurt would not end with questions and doubts however. His pain would escalate to physical blows right up through Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane and Peter’s denial. How could Jesus forgive those who hurt him continuously?

Sadder still, the hurt did not end in Jesus’ death.

How often do we do things that betray our lack of confidence in Jesus? How often do we act in ways contrary to the Commandments? How often do we interpret those Commandments to their least watered down version so that we can fool ourselves into believing we are “good enough?” How often do we need God to forgive us?

Continuously.

How You Forgive Someone Who Hurts You Continuously:

Today, we, who are so loved by our Father, continuously sin in ways that would cause  Him great pain IF He did not possess His incredible power to forgive time and time again. We must strive to receive that power and, just as the Lord forgives us, so too must we forgive others, “not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matt 18:22)

Forgiveness is not a sweeping act. The Bible does not show Jesus sweep His arm across the masses and proclaim them all forgiven.

The Bible does show Jesus approach individuals and consider individual events and offer each forgiveness. Sometimes the person himself comes seeking forgiveness. Other times, one comes seeking a cure and Jesus forgives sins so that the cure may be applied.

But in each case, Jesus forgives an individual. We must do the same. We must remember that the individual is greater than the pain he causes. Remember that that pain is not a reflection of who the individual is called to be.

Forgiveness is also shown through Jesus’ individual actions to show us that we must sometimes forgive bit by bit:  every day, every hour, and every minute. Just as in preparing for any great life event, we must practice small frequent acts of forgiveness continuously to build up our ability to forgive even the continuous hurts of our loved ones.

When we learn to forgive those who hurt us, there is a certain peace that envelopes our hearts and minds. Although on some level they may succeed in hurting us again and again, although that peace may be shaken a bit, forgiveness cushions the blows and peace will refuse to be dislodged.

Please note:  If you are being hurt (continuously or otherwise) by someone through physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, be aware that forgiveness never means putting yourself at risk. Forgiveness is part of moving on, but sometimes moving on means moving out – at least temporarily. While the Bible demands our forgiveness, it also demands our appreciation of our own self-worth. Why do some hear this part of the Lord’s message as a whisper when He shouts His love for you from the Heavens? Forgive yourself if necessary and trust in the plans God has for you when you value  and care for yourself, His wonderful creation. Be safe. Be strong in the Lord’s power.

CHALLENGE:  This new year, resolve to follow the example seen through the Baby Jesus – practice forgiveness continuously. How will you forgive someone in your life? Begin now. Tell us about it without tearing the sinner down.

photo credit

God Bless…

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9 thoughts on “How Do You Forgive Someone Who Hurts You Continuously?”

  1. Hi,
    My mother in law has continuously made comments that belittle me and make me feel worthless. What’s worse is that she is careful about using her words, so much that if I question her, she claims they were not intended for me. My husband does not see how much pain she causes me, even after almost 12 years of marriage. I have recently thought that I should distance myself from her, but then I will be blamed for “separating” my children and her son from her. I tried to talk to her but she made me feel as if I was imagining things. She also turns people against me and I’m often wondering what I’ve done. I am simply exhausted and angry.

    1. I am so sorry to hear this Yvonne. In laws can be incredibly destructive and when a spouse does not stand up to his or her family it puts the marriage in jeopardy. It sounds like your mother in law has the issue. Your husband has had to deal with this his entire life and may be so used to it he doesn’t realize it’s happening. God calls you to have a spirit of courage and to recognize the beauty in you that is His creation. It’s so hard to do that when you are under attack. Her words are about her, far more than they are about you. What you do with those words though is about you. How can you recognize the beauty that God sees in you and the Love He has for you? Do you see yourself (or maybe your mother in law or your husband) reflected in Jesus’ eyes on the Cross? How can you give your anger and exhaustion to Him and take less of it on yourself while still honoring your Marriage vows?

      I am praying for you…please keep in touch.

      God Bless…

  2. Thank you so much the message has been very positive and I want to start the new year by forgiving my friend who has continuously been hurting me despite the fact that i have been forgiving her

    1. I’m glad you find the message positive. Forgiveness isn’t easy. It helps me to know I don’t have to give all or nothing. The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. For me, the best way to forgive is to handle the manageable pieces today and bite off a little more tomorrow. One thing I’d caution on is that too often society tells us to forgive and forget. I do not believe they are the same thing or healthy either. Forgiving is necessary, but forgetting can be opening yourself to further harm when you are precious and loved by your Creator. You have a duty to value yourself and guard yourself from harm. Perhaps better than saying forgive and forget we should say forgive and don’t hold a grudge, but that is far less poetic! 🙂

      You can forgive and find peace. I will be praying for you in particular this week.

      Merry Christmas, Happy 2017, and God Bless…

  3. My husband abuses me repeatedly through watching porn and demeaning comments. I feel like I’m never good enough for him. I’m trying my best to forgive and do what Jesus would do but I am constantly reminded that I am not Jesus. He seems to be making small changes recently but I have no clue how long it will last. Your article helped me so much except when you said sometimes it takes leaving temporarily. This is what I have been battling myself with for so long. Should I stay and practice continuous forgiveness or should I leave and work on healing? I’ve never been sure of either one.

    1. Hello and thank you for reaching out. I am so sorry for what you are going through. Unfortunately, it is something that is all too common today. Porn is an addiction that can be very difficult to battle. It seems as though there are no victims only willing participants, but the victims are really everywhere from those involved in its “acting” to production to women and children and, yes, even men, at home whether they are the ones watching it or not. If one is addicted to alcohol, one can choose not to go to a bar and avoid purchasing alcohol in the first place. If one is addicted to drugs, one can move from a neighborhood and form new relationships that lessen the possibility of relapse. Where does one go to avoid porn? It is forced, either in blatant or “soft” (an oxymoron) forms, on us in the form of billboards and even on messages our tv’s pump into our living and bedrooms.

      My husband was not into porn, and did not hit me physically during our marriage, but that doesn’t mean he treated me the way God wanted me treated either. It took me decades (and possibly his leaving and my needing to redesign myself and my life) for me to understand that “not hitting me physically” shouldn’t be the main goal. I am glad you are recognizing that what your husband is doing is not honoring you and certainly not honoring God! Many women get confused by that. All who experience it suffer questions about self-worth and value. I promise you, you are valued and loved completely where you are and for who you are! Never doubt that. You are never alone!

      You asked if you should stay and practice forgiveness or leave and work on healing. First and foremost I would suggest you get counseling from a faithful Catholic or Christian counselor who can know more about your situation and perhaps point you to local resources. One of the things that concerns me about mindsets today is the either/or scenarios I see. I don’t know if this applies to you, but it seems many people think they need to stay and practice forgiveness or leave and divorce to work on healing.

      Again, this is not substitute for counseling, and I am not giving you advice on your particular situation since I don’t know enough about it, but I do know we are made in the image and likeness of God and that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. That is a beautiful thing to recognize, but with it comes great responsibility. You are to value yourself and the body you will be given in resurrection one day. You are also to love, honor, and cherish your husband. How do you do both when they seem to contradict one another?

      Divorce is always harmful. Too often it is done to allow one partner to “be happy.” That is garbage. When that occurs, it is selfishness pure and simple. You are not talking about divorce for selfish reasons or divorce at all from what you said here. You are talking about protecting yourself and seeing yourself as worthy of respect and pure and sacrificial love. That is a good thing, and it doesn’t necessarily have to mean divorce either.

      Many people jump to divorce as a solution rather than take the weight of marriage alone. Marriage alone sounds crazy, and perhaps in many ways it is, but you are also called to honor your vows and to give your husband a chance to return. We see examples of return due to the unconditional, sacrificial love of a spouse in the book of Hosea in the Old Testament and in Christ’s love for the Church in the New Testament. Even in Sunday’s first reading, we see

      Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
      and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
      the calf and the young lion shall browse together,
      with a little child to guide them.
      The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
      together their young shall rest;
      the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
      The baby shall play by the cobra’s den,
      and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
      ~ Is 11: 6-8

      In a situation like yours, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to see how you can be the lamb and invite the wolf who is disguised as your husband to be your guest and not be eaten alive. Yet that is what you are called to do, but many people miss what comes first.

      First, before the predator and prey can come together, there must be a turning over to God on both parts. Your husband has free will. Will he choose to submit to the Lord or will he continue down his destructive path? No one knows for sure – except God. It’s your husband’s decision. It’s up to you to decide to love him where he is and to protect yourself and any children you have in the best way possible (Realize that except in extreme abuse cases, most courts will allow the other parent up to 50-50 custody, which means what a spouse cannot bear in his or her partner, children are forced to bear without deflection when they go to the other parent’s home. This includes exposure to porn and other things, which the parent may not expose a young child to but may expose an older teen to in order to “make him more of a man” or feel a common bond or some other misguided notion which justifies his actions and his sin). Whether that protection comes from staying or leaving, I cannot say. Again, I urge you to talk to a priest and counselor. Also, if advice given does not follow Church teachings or seems to not sit well with you, understand that these people are also human and may make mistakes. Don’t give up. Seek counsel from another who is Wise and Faithful.

      You cannot turn your husband to the Light. That is his decision made by his free will, but before the lamb can welcome the wolf, the lamb must also turn to God, fully and completely. We look at this reading and assume the wolf is bad and converted and that the lamb is all good and docile and waiting, but in reality, although the lamb is the lesser wrong, the lamb still must submit to God (not to the wolf!) in order to trust that the wolf can change.

      Do you need to leave to seek healing and trust God? I don’t know. Do you need to stay to practice forgiveness? Again, I don’t know. Only you and God know that, and my guess is that even when you decide you will not know for sure. My guess is that it will be many years before you can look back and know whether you made the right decision or not.

      A couple of last things I will tell you before ending my *very* long reply…

      1) As a life coach specializing in divorce recovery and strengthening Marriages and families, I’ve learned to stop asking, “Do, can, why, and should…?” questions and instead ask “How…?” and “What…?” questions. “How can I practice forgiveness by staying (or by leaving)?” “What will help me heal?” “How can I best protect myself (and my children if applicable)?” “What does the Bible say?” “What have saints that have struggled with similar issues done?” “What will change (stay the same) if I stay/leave?” “How will that affect…?” etc…

      2) Know that you are loved by a Man more perfect than you can imagine, a Man who left the perfection of Heaven and humbled Himself to come to earth and suffer and die for you. He loves you that much! There is redemption in suffering when you align the suffering to Jesus’ and when you suffer for a positive outcome. Seek the Sorrowful Mysteries and offer your suffering (whether you stay or leave) up to God for His use.

      3) Don’t assume leaving means healing and staying means continued abuse. There will be pain and can be healing with either decision, but neither will be easy.

      4) You have power where you are. Don’t ever doubt that.

      5) You are never alone.

      I am glad you reached out and wish I had easier and more clear cut answers for you. Abuse is never easy or good. It is not part of God’s plan in any way, shape, or form. I again urge you to seek faith-based counseling on this. Also, I saw Jason Evert speak once. He is AMAZING! His wife, Kristina’s story may help too. Check out what he has to say on porn and porn addiction. I haven’t read many of these posts on porn, but the one on Saint Augustine and how he fought it is one I will definitely check out later today!http://chastityproject.com/?s=porn

      You might want to check out these other resources too.

      Catholics Come Home
      True Manhood – Teaching Virtue, While Fighting Porn and “Cultural Manliness” – This is DEFINTIELY a site I need to check out in depth! It even has a tab devoted to Women on topics such as Submission (Something I write about here: , finding peace and healing, guarding your heart and a woman’s perspective)
      Theology of the Body – This site has a ton of info on, not just porn, but the gift of human sexuality.
      Fathers for Good – phone apps that battle porn addiction – so needed in the moment of temptation!
      The Catholic Gentleman – An article for those of faith who suffer from porn addiction
      Angelic Warfare Confraternity – I got this from the Catholic Gentleman’s article; it seems worth looking into more.
      St. Thomas the Apostle – This Church has TONS of resources divided into categories for Catholics, for Christians, and for others

      Once I started looking up sites using a search for “Catholic against porn”, I found so much on this topic! Thank you for writing. You have inspired me to write more about this topic. I will also be including more info on dealing with this in my new life coaching site which will launch in January 2017, StrahlenGrace.com (link active soon!).

      One last thing, you mentioned that your husband has made some small changes recently but you’re not sure you can trust him. We are called to live one day at a time and not borrow trouble from the future. I would urge you to not seek what wrongs he may do tomorrow, but enjoy the small victory of today while not putting your hope in him but in God – big challenge in all that!

      I will be praying for you today and I know God already has your situation in His very capable hands. Please keep in touch.

      God Bless…

      PS I’ve got to run to work and get the boys to school. I haven’t proofread this but want to get back to you quickly. I hope it makes sense. Please reach out again with any questions or if I can help in any way. Prayers offered for you this morning…

  4. So hard but I choose to forgive my mom l live with her enemy through her hurt me over and over again I’m tired of her control and manupulation, verbal and spiritual abuse curses she uses from word of God against me. I let her go and not deal talk anymore, how set healthy boundaries, be free move out on my own with God to provide take care of me. Need job stable lasting or some income survive

    1. Hi Tanya, You’re right. It is so hard. I’m sorry to hear what you’re going through. It’s so hard when the word of God is used against someone – worse when it’s done by someone who should Love and protect us. It takes the Lord’s loving words and twists them for one’s own benefit or by one’s own fear and misunderstanding. I’m not sure why your mom is doing this, but it reminding me of the verse, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe [in me] to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” Mark 9:42. A mother is supposed to lead her children to the Lord, but so often parents fail. I’m sorry you are going through this.

      I use my life coaching to help women move beyond pain, but you may want to look into finding a Christian counselor first if the pain is raw and recent. Having someone of faith to talk things through and help you process can really help. In the meantime, I will pray for you and your family. Hold onto the fact that you are given a spirit of Strength and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you. His Truth and Power are just becoming known to me after YEARS of my taking Him for granted. He can lift you and help you through this.

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