Day 3: How We Forgive

BY DEENA SELLERS | February 16, 2024

Today’s readings


“A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.”   -Psalm 51

Everyone makes mistakes. Or, that’s the constant reminder, at least. The reminder that when we fall short in the eyes of our friends and family, we are not alone. To take this adage one step further in saying it aloud, we may remind ourselves that all is forgiven in the eyes of God. But that part is easy to forget when we are so deep in the throes of self-pity, frustration and sadness. That’s when forgiveness seems even further out of reach. We let our emotions overrule God’s love, we stand in our own way, and block the grace of wiping the slate clean and starting anew. It’s a gift that we take for granted often.

How We Forgive

In our human frailty, we forget that forgiveness is often more for us than it is for the person to whom we need to extend that grace. Hurtful words during a heated conversation, lying by omission, and selfishly putting our interests before the care of others are examples of everyday human behavior that places us in conflict with the people who know and love us the most. When we call to mind those sins with a heavy and humble heart, God gives us the grace of forgiveness. In situations where we are wronged in those same ways, we must pay it forward: the forgiveness we are extended by God is the forgiveness that we should extend to others. It’s the only way to remain clean of heart and spirit, for “a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn”. Psalm 51 reminds us that paying it forward never gets old, and forgiveness given must be passed on. Whenever I stumble, God is there to catch me. When people I love take a misstep, I catch them. And so it goes: the cycle of forgiveness is strengthened by our vulnerability and humility, and supported by the love of God. 


  1. How has the practice of forgiveness shaped your understanding of reconciliation and healing in relationships?
  2. In your journey of forgiveness, how have you experienced the transformative power of compassion and empathy?
  3. How does the process of forgiveness contribute to your faith formation and connection with God and others?
7 replies
  1. sonja
    sonja says:

    I love your idea of paying it forward for forgiveness. True forgiveness needs no words. Past hurts melt away in love. Understanding for me has been the key to accepting others as they are. Each person does the best they can, with the resources they had at the time. Few people deep down deliberately wish to hurt others. And those who do, need our love most of all. Forgiveness is the prerogative of the person in power, not the one without power. As a parent it is easy to forgive our children as their mistakes are stepping stones to success. And so it is easy to believe that God has already forgiven us, and that is all that matters.

  2. Bartholomew
    Bartholomew says:

    Well said! A humble and contrite heart is not spurned by God. What about situations where those around you, under the guise of justice, continuously remind you of past misdeed as a reason to hinder progress in your desired vocation? It is we humans who take pleasure in holding others back due to past mistakes, fostering unforgiveness of oneself, frustration, and a feeling of being unloved by God. The most insidious form of unforgiveness is when one acts with malice under the guise of virtue. I am currently experiencing this unfortunate situation.

  3. Sister Odessa
    Sister Odessa says:

    Well said and thank you for giving your time to help us be aware and better of what it means to forgive. A true virtue that Jesus taught his followers to do.
    Sr Odessa

  4. Cathe
    Cathe says:

    Thank you so very much for the reminder, the need, to pay forgiveness forward.
    So deeply grateful that forgiveness is always at our fingertips – God’s mercy endures forever. Sometimes, the DESIRE to forgive others needs to take root in our hearts and blossom.

  5. Kathy Payne
    Kathy Payne says:

    I appreciate the day’s contemplation on the “Cycle of Forgiveness,” which I listened to more than once. I was only able to really sit with just one of the questions and still had to change it up a little so that it might resonate with a curent situation. On question #3, I asked myself ‘How do I imagine the process of forgiveness will contribute to my relationship with God and with the person I need to forgive?” So what will my “process” be? 1) Acknowledge and verbalize out loud what I need to forgive, who I need to forgive. 2) Find a favorite scripture on forgiveness and sit with it. 3) Ask for the grace of a “changed attitude” the next time I’m in the presence of the one I need to forgive.

    I’m old. I need to have a process to a change a behavior.
    ( I need more exercise for this aging body. I need to exercise. I need to go to the gym 3 days a week. I will go to the gym on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I’m doing it).

  6. Geo
    Geo says:

    I forgive but I find it hard to forget, I know Our Loving Father Almighty GOD is quik to forgive & hard to anger, he throws our sins in the deepest part of the ocean. My heart has been scarred only the touch of Lord Jesus Christ will soften me. I pray for those who hurt me may GOD have mercy on me & them.

  7. Terence Lover
    Terence Lover says:

    To have others forgive me and to believe that God forgives me is something that I can accept. To fully forgive myself takes work. Perhaps I can work on this by genuinely forgiving others. This is something to work on this Lent. Passing on and sharing forgiveness of others and self are woven. Thank you for focusing on this! Peace and God bless you.


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