It isn’t always easy to know when you have actually forgiven someone, especially when it is someone close to you and the emotions run deep and the relationship is complicated. God commands you to forgive, if you want to be forgiven by him (Matthew 6:14-15), so it is important to know how to identify when you haven’t forgiven. Here are the three signs that you haven’t forgiven your offender:
Continually dwelling on events and emotions surrounding the offense. This is a sign that you are still very focused on the offense. If it has just recently happened or you just recently became aware of it, then it is normal for you to be dwelling on it while you come to terms with it. There is a time that you need to process what happened and how it has affected you. When you first find out about something done to you, you will go through a period of shock and denial. This is a necessary stage that you have to go through before forgiving. However, if it has been a while and you still can’t get your mind off it, you haven’t forgiven.
Hearing from others that you have a chip on your shoulder or are wallowing in self-pity. This indicates that you have a victim mentality and are focusing on the wrong done to you by the person. When you are bathing in self-pity, you are not taking advantage of the power you have to choose how to respond to whatever happens to you. When you continue to stay focused on the bad, you are stuck. If you continually bring the offense up when you are with other people, you probably haven’t let go of the offense.
Being consumed by a desire for revenge. This is an obvious sign you haven’t forgiven. Forgiveness is about letting go of the right to take revenge into your own hands. When you haven’t forgiven, you try to figure out how to get even and make the other person suffer for how he/she has hurt you. This doesn’t mean that you have to let go of the natural consequences the person will face whether those are relational, financial, legal, or situational. Those all have to do with justice and allowing someone to reap what they sow, but it is God and the law that has the right to bring the consequences. You can’t be motivated by hatred, bitterness, or revenge when you are forgiving your offender (Romans 12:19).