How to Forgive a Toxic Person | I forgive you but, I don’t trust you. I forgive you but, I need my space. I forgive you but… 

Is forgiveness truly forgiveness if it has a ‘but’ at the end of it? What does forgiveness look like? Does forgiveness equal reconciliation or trust? One thing we can all agree on is this, we must forgive others. God makes that crystal clear. So why is it so hard to forgive a toxic person?

This blog is going to focus on “toxic people” because this is where forgiveness gets a little confusing. By “toxic people,” I mean abusive, manipulative, narcissistic, controlling people who hurt you over and over again. Having to forgive these people has turned into a cycle of hurt and trying to forgive but never having enough time to breathe from the last time they hurt you.

Let’s start with weeding out what forgiveness is NOT:

Forgiveness DOES NOT always equal reconciliation. When dealing with a “toxic person” it is best to create healthy boundaries and make it clear as to what you will and will not allow in the relationship. Putting some space between you and the constant hurt they put you through is a good thing. This time can be spent focused on God and healing the hurt that has piled up through the years… or months.

For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.  They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good.  They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.  They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

2 Timothy 3:2-5

What is a healthy boundary? Boundaries are fences we keep around our property. They keep us safe from bad things by keeping them out, and has a gate we can use to let the good things in. It is the property line of self. I know what feelings belong to me, along with my own actions and I’m aware that other people need to own their own feelings and actions and cannot throw those onto my property. 

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Proverbs 4:23

Forgiveness DOES NOT equal trust. We are commanded by God to always, always, always, offer our forgiveness freely to others. But trust is a different story. Once trust is broken it must be built back up by the perpetrator. God did not call us to be foolish and naive when it comes to manipulators and liars.

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

Matthew 10:16

So, what is forgiveness? 

Even if you weren’t able to reconcile the relationship and decided that it was better to separate yourself from the significant other, friend or family member, you can still be loving and tenderhearted from afar.

Forgiveness is refusing to be bitter or resentful towards the other person. It’s being able to pray for good things for them. It’s refusing to gossip and put them down in front of others. It’s refusing to take revenge but instead leaving it in God’s hands.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32

Forgiveness is healing to YOUR soul.

Unforgiveness will single-handedly assassinate YOUR character. Unforgiveness will keep YOUR growth stunted. Unforgiveness will block YOUR purpose.

You will never reach victory while remaining a victim. Yes, it takes time to feel the forgiveness and you may still need to heal from the wounds that were inflicted on you. The important thing is that you work it out with God. Come to him willingly, put your broken heart and back stabbing wounds into his hands. Allow him to heal your hurt and let go of the resentment towards the person who hurt you, while putting up fences to protect your heart from continued hurt.

Your deepest wounds need God’s power to be forgiven, don’t attempt it on your own. God loves you and wants to take the weight off of your shoulders and give you rest.