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  • Writer's pictureChristina V. Mills

Freedom Through Total Forgiveness

Forgive as you are forgiven.


According to Merriam-Webster, the word "forgive" means:

  • to cease to feel resentment against (an offender)

  • to pardon

  • to give up resentment of or claim to requital

  • to grant relief from payment, cancel a debt


What is Forgiveness?

Forgiveness implies the canceling of a debt or ceasing to have negative feelings about someone we feel has wronged us. One could say, forgiveness is "letting it go." To even understand the word "forgiveness," we have to understand those things that need to be forgiven. Forgiveness is a form of self-love and an expression of our love for others.

A Two-Way Street

Consider someone who has wronged you or something that has happened that you find hard to forgive. Now, consider someone you have wronged or something that you did that you know (or have a strong feeling) harmed someone else for which you never asked for forgiveness.

Oftentimes, it is easy to think about every way in which we've been wronged. Our minds will remember the times we were embarrassed or had our feelings hurt. For some of us, it can be harder to remember those times we have wronged someone else. Most humans like to feel good about ourselves, which in general is healthy. This can be problematic, however, when we focus on the good things about ourselves and the bad things about other people. Often, we can become blind to our own dysfunctions or can be totally ignorant to those things that other people find totally unforgivable.

I have found that forgiveness began to really sink in for me when I began to earnestly look at the ways I have been wrong, and to ask earnestly for forgiveness.

Down The Rabbit Hole

Simply looking at yourself truthfully can be tough. Especially in modern times, there seems to be an emphasis on only doing things that feel good and that stroke our egos. However, any type of real growth only happens when you let yourself get uncomfortable. Of course, no one wants to sit with feelings that don't feel good. This is why so many of us numb or ignore our feelings altogether. We numb our feelings with a drink or a smoke. We ignore our feelings and intrusive thoughts by immersing ourselves with media. We avoid having to sit with ourselves for too long by constantly having to be with someone or always having to talk to someone on the phone.

So many of us go lifetimes without ever dealing with our true feelings or honestly assessing our shortcomings, and end up in repeating cycles, often wondering what the problem is. Those less self aware of us will point to all of the external things, attempting to uphold our perfect albeit grossly skewed view of ourselves. Though some fortunate ones, often those who are forced to sit down through imprisonment, addiction, some type failure or sickness, though some indeed have walked the path willingly, begin to see that the problem, in actually, often stems from the self.

As this realization begins to dawn, one can flee and return to one's old ways and just say, "This is just how I am. It is what it is." It is here that people double-down. They often become the most extravagant version of themselves, even if it is to their detriment. But ultimately, it doesn't matter as they have chosen to affirm their identity and would rather accept themselves as they are rather than face tremendous change, which can indeed be very difficult. For those who make this choice, that is ok.

There are others who, as they begin to get a glimmer of their own dysfunction, go down the rabbit hole. While everyone's experience is different, once a person takes the leap, it can be devastating for the ego. Those who already turned back perceived this as they want to uphold the ego, which is fine. Yet the person who goes down the rabbit hole is ready to let it go. They are ready for this because they have realized on a deep level that something they are doing simply is not working and have become so fed up with whatever it is that they are willing to make drastic changes. There is a reason many people never get here and there is a reason why those who are forced to sit down through imprisonment, addiction, some type of failure or sickness, are the often ones who are fed up enough to jump down the black hole. When we're too comfortable, or the dysfunction we're experiencing doesn't feel too bad, most people don't feel enough heat to take the leap. Perhaps the land of mild dysfunction is the most sinister of them all because this is where people can remain for a lifetime, like a frog in a warm pot of water. Perhaps those who are thrown into a hot pot are the most fortunate because the choice to take the leap is more clear.

The Land of Unspeakable Things

Most of us live in what I call the Land of Unspeakable Things. Unspeakable Things are those things we feel so ashamed of that we can't even talk about them. If someone brings up the topic intentionally, or even if we hear about a related topic on television or in conversation, we can become triggered or even shut down. Shame is a tremendously negative emotion caused by feelings of guilt or fear of being looked down upon by others. While certainly, everyone has experienced a moment where we felt shamed by someone else, much of the shame so many of us experience comes from ourselves. Ultimately, we are the only ones who knows all of the things we have done.

As long as we live in the Land of Unspeakable Things and shame ourselves, it is impossible to ask for forgiveness because we can't even be honest with ourselves about those things that need to be forgiven. As long as it is impossible for us to ask for forgiveness, it is impossible to totally forgive anyone else. This is where we hold onto the wrongs of others, pointing outwardly so that we don't have to look truthfully at ourselves. The Land of Unspeakable Things is a dark place of secrecy, where things are hidden, concealed. In this Land, the top concern is to make sure that those things that need to be hidden stay hidden. We become utterly concerned with making sure that no one knows the truth about us, so we might bend the truth, or tell people things we think they want to hear, so as not to experience shame.

But if we're still scared, how do we bring ourselves to look? For me, it becomes so much easier to look once we come to a spectacular realization: the light shining in the darkness is forgiveness.

God's Total Love & Forgiveness

While the human mind judges ourselves, God actually doesn't offer judgement at all. God offers total love. and forgiveness. But Christina, you might say, "God judges people all throughout scripture." Yes, there are numerous times that God reveals those things that will draw us closer to God and that will separate us from God. This is what many traditions call sin. While the human mind thinks of crime and punishment, and might envision a list of this is good and that is bad, God is so much bigger than that. In my understanding, sin, or the things that someone might think God would judge us for, is simply the experience of separating ourselves from God. The sins we find in spiritual texts are guidelines to help us discern which things are more likely to draw us closer to God and which things might cause problems for us or lead us into the wilderness. Ultimately, God knows best, and we can sense in our heart whether we are close to or far from God's presence. When we are in a state of sin, or distance, we feel fearful, uneasy. We try to hide from the entity that created us, the earth, and the entire universe. It's silly when you think about it.

You can't hide anything from God. It's impossible. But those who live in the Land of Unspeakable Things have so shamed themselves that they would do anything to hide from God out of fear of God's wrath and judgement. But here's the truth. God actually doesn't offer judgement. God is most merciful and offers us total forgiveness. However, there is a condition. You have to ask for it. As long as you live in things Land of Unspeakable Things, refuse to look at yourself honestly, and find it impossible to acknowledge those things you need to do better, it is impossible to be in a truthful enough place to even ask for forgiveness - we feel like we don't need it. We're the good people, remember? Everyone else are the bad ones - at least in the Land of Unspeakable Things.

But in reality, all of us have fallen short, have wronged people, have done things that someone considers unforgivable. And if we're truly honest with ourselves, we are desperately in need of forgiveness. We need to forgive ourselves. There are probably a bunch of people we could ask to forgive us. And if we believe in God, we may realize that in our fear and attempt to hide ourselves in our shame, that we have run away from the one who created us and loves us the most. The funny thing is, those things we try to hide, God already knows. God is simply waiting for us to stop being so silly, thinking we can hide anything and run back into God's arms. God is waiting with open arms to give us the biggest hug and remind us that everything is ok, but we have to run toward God for that to happen. The simple act of recognizing you are in the wilderness and running toward God is the act of asking for forgiveness. It is saying, "Oops! I realized that I ran far away from you. I'm coming back." And that is it.

The wild thing is, at least in my experience, those things that we consider shameful or unforgivable are actually pretty common. Once we have the strength to shine a bright light into the darkness and look at ourselves truthfully, it can feel cathartic, healing in itself. No longer do we have to contort ourselves or hide from the truth. We can finally relax.

Asking for Forgiveness

However, while forgiving others can be cathartic, asking for forgiveness can be even more difficult. Facing someone and admitting we have been wrong for a long period time or have been really cruel to someone can feel mortifying and impossible. But think about how good it feels when someone apologizes to you for what they have done wrong. You may be surprised to see that again, judgment comes much more from the self than it does from others. Once you get the courage to ask someone for forgiveness, they will likely be so grateful and surprised to even receive it that it creates a bridge you thought could never exist. Sure they can reject your apology, but nothing is lost. At minimum, you will certainly gain their respect, or more, a new level of friendship.


As we have already talked about, God is all merciful, totally forgiving. The moment you recognize something isn't right and run toward God, God is ready with open arms. There is no text anywhere in the world that depicts God as being unforgiving to those who earnestly repent or seek God's presence. That is simply not an attribute of God. Likewise, we should not cultivate the attribute of unforgiveness.

Unforgiveness is toxic. So often, we hold latent grudges, believing that we are protecting ourselves or perhaps getting back at the other person. Unfortunately, it's more toxic for ourselves than it is for the other person. It is the disease of refusing to let go. Unforgiveness is literally blood poisoning that we give to ourselves, a sickness of the heart. A failure to act out of love.

Forgiving Others

Once we realize how good it actually feels to shine a light in the darkness and become free, it is amazing how much easier it becomes to forgive others. We realize that they are in the same predicament as us and are suffering with the same feelings of guilt, shame, and unspeakable things in such a severe way that it would cause them to harm us. And so we try not to add to these feelings, but in our freedom seek to relieve them so that they may also be free. Forgiving someone who has wronged us is the highest form of forgiveness.

Now, forgiveness does not mean being a doormat or allowing people to hurt us over and over again. If a person is using your forgiveness as an license to continue their harmful behavior, that is abuse. It is entirely possible to forgive someone in your heart and also to maintain a safe physical or emotional distance from them.


Forgiveness is freedom. Most of us live with baggage from the past. Baggage simply includes things that are unresolved, things we have not let go of for one reason or another. If you are experiencing blockages in your life, plateaus that you can't seem to get beyond, a very long low tide, or repeating negative patterns, consider if you are holding onto something that needs to be resolved. Many times, forgiving someone from the past or forgiving ourselves, can be just the thing to help us break though.

If we have found ourselves in the wilderness, even if it is by accident, and are now scared that we have gone too far, it's never too far. There is nothing beyond the boundaries of the one who literally created the universe, and so if we find ourselves in the wilderness, all we have to do is just turn around and run into God's arms, and immediately, the nightmare is over.

Scripture References

The Joy of Forgiveness

Hebrew Scriptures

Psalm 32

0 Of David. A Maskil.

1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,

whose sin is covered.

2 Happy are those to whom the LORD imputes no iniquity,

and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3 While I kept silence, my body wasted away

through my groaning all day long.

4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;

my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you,

and I did not hide my iniquity;

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”

and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah

6 Therefore let all who are faithful

offer prayer to you;

at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters

shall not reach them.

7 You are a hiding place for me;

you preserve me from trouble;

you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah

8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;

I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

9 Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,

whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle,

else it will not stay near you.

10 Many are the torments of the wicked,

but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the LORD.

11 Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, O righteous,

and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

The Gospel

Matthew 6:9-14

9 “Pray then in this way:

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come.

Your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And do not bring us to the time of trial,

but rescue us from the evil one.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.


Surah Al-Qasas 28:15-16

˹One day˺ he entered the city unnoticed by its people.1 There he found two men fighting: one of his own people, and the other of his enemies. The man from his people called to him for help against his foe. So Moses punched him, causing his death. Moses cried, “This is from Satan’s handiwork. He is certainly a sworn, misleading enemy.”

He pleaded, “My Lord! I have definitely wronged my soul, so forgive me.” So He forgave him, ˹for˺ He is indeed the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.


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Peace & Pineapples!

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