Can Forgiveness Heal Broken Relationships?

In the tapestry of human relationships, forgiveness plays a crucial role in repairing the frayed threads of interpersonal conflicts, miscommunications, and emotional hurt. The act of forgiving is often considered a cathartic experience that frees the mind, nourishing the soul and mending broken connections.

The question, however, remains – is forgiveness potent enough to heal the fractures in a strained relationship, bringing together the once-scattered pieces? While the possibility of healing varies depending upon the severity and complexity of the damage, forgiveness indisputably creates conditions conducive to reconciliation and understanding.

This article delves into the transformative power of forgiveness and its potential in rescuing troubled relationships, drawing from biblical insights, expert opinions, and real-life examples to provide a comprehensive and authoritative exploration of this age-old virtue.

Can Forgiveness Heal Broken Relationships?

I. The Power of Forgiveness in Mending Relationships

Forgiveness plays a vital role in mending relationships, as it allows us to let go of negative emotions and focus on moving forward together. In Colossians 3:13, we are reminded to “bear with one another and forgive one another if anyone has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” By doing so, we can experience renewed harmony in our relationships.

There are several key benefits when practicing forgiveness in relationships:

  • Healing emotions: Forgiveness allows us to release pent-up anger, resentment, and bitterness, making space for positive emotions such as love, empathy, and compassion.
  • Restoring trust: When we forgive someone, it demonstrates that we value the relationship and are willing to rebuild trust, which is essential for a healthy connection.
  • Strengthening our faith: Forgiving others as a reflection of God’s forgiveness towards us strengthens our faith and brings us closer to Him.

It is important to remember that forgiveness is not solely for the benefit of the one being forgiven, but for us as well. As it says in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” By choosing forgiveness, we open ourselves to God’s mercy and grace, which in turn can bring healing and restoration to our relationships.

As we follow Jesus’ example and choose a path of forgiveness, we can experience the power it has to mend broken relationships and foster unity. Embrace one another with a heart of forgiveness, as it not only improves our personal relationships but also brings us closer to God’s kingdom where love, grace, and mercy abound.

II. Common Barriers to Forgiveness and Overcoming Them

Personal Pride and Unwillingness to Let Go
One of the most common barriers to forgiveness is pride: when our ego is bruised, we find it difficult to let go of our hurt and resentment. Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.” To overcome this barrier, we need to humble ourselves and acknowledge our own need for God’s forgiveness and grace. Here are a few practical steps to help you do so:

  • Recognize your own sins and flaws and remember how God has forgiven you.
  • Pray for a humble heart, be willing to admit you’re not perfect, and ask God to give you His perspective on the situation.

Remember, humbling ourselves ultimately leads to our spiritual growth and brings us closer to God.

Fear of Rejection or Retaliation
Another common barrier to forgiveness is the fear of rejection or retaliation from the person who has hurt us. This fear may hold us back from offering forgiveness out of concern that they may hurt us again or won’t be receptive to our attempt to reconcile. However, Romans 12:18 reminds us, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Note that this verse does not guarantee the other person will respond positively, but we are still encouraged to make the effort for peace.

To overcome this barrier, consider the following steps:

  • Pray for faith and courage, and remember that your forgiveness is ultimately a choice to obey God, who is your true source of protection and support.
  • Ask for wisdom and discernment on how and when to approach the person you need to forgive. Sometimes waiting for the right time is necessary and beneficial for both parties involved.

Believing the Myth of “Forgive and Forget”
Many people believe that forgiving someone means forgetting the pain and injustice they have caused. This misconception can sometimes appear to be a requirement based on the phrase, “forgive and forget.” However, this phrase does not appear in the Bible, and forgiveness does not always equate to forgetting. In fact, learning from our past experiences is crucial for our growth and emotional healing. What God requires is that we release our bitterness and vengeance, as seen in Colossians 3:13: “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

Here are some ways to overcome this barrier:

  • Accept that you may not forget the pain, but focus on releasing your negative emotions and the desire for revenge.
  • Pray for the strength to forgive and the grace to heal from your emotional wounds.

As we strive to overcome these barriers and choose to forgive, we will experience increased freedom, spiritual growth, and a deeper relationship with God.

III. The Psychological and Emotional Benefits of Forgiving

Forgiveness is not only a spiritual act but also has profound psychological and emotional benefits for the person who forgives. By releasing negative emotions and resentment, we open ourselves up to a new level of emotional health and well-being. The following are some of the most significant psychological and emotional benefits of forgiving:

  • Improved mental health: Research has shown that those who practice forgiveness experience less stress, anxiety, and depression. In the parable of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:21-35), Jesus emphasizes the importance of forgiving others’ debts as our own have been forgiven. By doing so, we not only please God but also improve our own mental health.
  • Physical health benefits: Chronic stress, anger, and resentment can have harmful effects on our physical health. Forgiveness helps to relieve these negative emotions, leading to lower blood pressure, improved immune system function, and a reduced risk of heart disease. In Ephesians 4:31-32, Paul urges believers to “let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
  • Enhanced relationships: Holding onto resentment can cause relational strain, driving a wedge between friends, family, and even married couples. By choosing to forgive, we invite reconciliation and strengthen connections with those around us. Colossians 3:13 encourages us to “bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you have a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Forgiving others frees us from the bondage of negative emotions, leading to a life marked by a sense of peace and greater happiness. Although the process of forgiveness may not be easy, it is an essential component of a healthy, Christ-centered life. In Philippians 4:13, we are reminded that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” With the help of the Holy Spirit, let us endeavor to forgive and experience the profound psychological and emotional benefits it brings.

IV. Strategies for Cultivating Forgiveness in Broken Relationships

Recognize the Need for Forgiveness
The first step towards mending broken relationships is acknowledging our need for forgiveness. As humans, we often make mistakes, and sometimes these mistakes can hurt others. Jesus himself emphasized the importance of forgiveness when Peter asked Him how many times we should forgive those who sin against us. He replied, “up to seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22, NKJV). This message emphasizes that forgiveness should be limitless, and we must be willing to seek it when we have wronged others.

Approach with Humility
When asking for forgiveness or attempting to heal a broken relationship, it’s crucial to approach the situation with humility. Recognizing that we are all flawed and have made mistakes can help to create an open, honest environment where both parties feel comfortable discussing their feelings. Remember the words of Jesus when speaking on this topic: “for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12, NKJV). With humility, we can begin to see past our own hurts and pains, making it easier to forgive others and ourselves.

Practice Empathy and Understanding
Another key to cultivating forgiveness in broken relationships is developing empathy and understanding. This means putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes and considering their feelings, as well as our own. By doing this, we can better understand the root of the issue and what may have led to the conflict. In turn, this can lead to clearer communication and a stronger desire to forgive.

To further develop empathy, consider these practices:

  • Spend time reflecting on the situation from the other person’s perspective
  • Ask God for guidance and wisdom in understanding their emotions
  • Remind yourself of times when you’ve experienced hurt and how forgiveness brought healing

Develop Communication Skills
Forgiveness and reconciliation often involve open, honest communication between both parties. This can be particularly challenging if communication was the initial cause of the hurt. However, it’s essential to work on improving these skills, as they will serve as the foundation for healing. As the Apostle Paul advises, “speaking the truth in love, we may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ” (Ephesians 4:15, NKJV). Remember to focus on expressing your feelings without blame or judgment and to be willing to listen actively and empathetically.

V. Real-Life Success Stories of Forgiven Relationships and Their Healing Process

Over the years, we have seen countless testimonies of individuals who experienced God’s forgiveness and healing in relationships. These real-life success stories clearly express the transformative power of God’s grace and the incredible impact of forgiveness in one’s life. Today, we want to share with you three heartwarming examples of such stories that show the power of forgiveness and the healing effect it had on their relationships.

The story of Carol and Jim: Carol and Jim struggled for many years in their marriage, with unresolved conflicts, hurtful words, and bitterness. Upon attending a Christian retreat, they were convicted of their need to forgive each other, and make amends. Carol shares, “When I chose to forgive Jim and confess my own sins to him, we prayed together for the first time in years. Now, our relationship has completely changed, we are like new people. We are grateful for the healing we experienced through God’s grace” (Ephesians 4:31-32, NKJV: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you”).

The story of Mark and his brother: Mark had a strained relationship with his brother for over a decade due to a financial dispute. After a pastor preached about forgiveness, Mark decided to contact his brother and make amends. They talked openly about their feelings and resentment, then chose to forgive one another. Mark testified, “Our relationship has been restored, and our families are now close. It’s amazing to see the healing that forgiveness brings” (Colossians 3:13, NKJV: “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do”).

The story of Sarah and her former friend: Sarah cut ties with her closest friend after a bitter betrayal. As the years passed, Sarah struggled with anger and bitterness. During a prayer meeting, she felt the Lord’s prompting to forgive her former friend. “It wasn’t easy, but I called her, we talked, and I forgave her,” explained Sarah. “Today, our friendship isn’t exactly the same, but the burden has been lifted off my heart, and forgiveness has set me free” (Matthew 5:44, NKJV: “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you”).

These powerful testimonies demonstrate the profound impact that forgiveness and God’s grace can have in healing relationships and restoring unity. As we embrace the teachings of Jesus and apply them to our own experiences, we too can witness the transformative power of forgiveness in our lives and relationships.


In conclusion, we can see how over time, a decision to forgive can bring healing and restoration to a broken relationship. While it may be hard to forgive in the beginning, the experience can open up a pathway to positive outcomes. The burden of resentment and anger can be alleviated, and a return to trust and harmony can be achieved.

In this day and age, relationships are becoming increasingly more difficult to maintain. Whether it’s a friendship, romantic relationship, or familial one, all relationships involve an inherent element of risk and have the potential to become broken. Despite this, all relationships can potentially repair themselves if the necessary conditions are given. One of those conditions is forgiveness.

It is no secret that forgiveness can act as a healing agent in strained relationships. By forgiving, individuals are signaling to each other that they are willing to make amends and can begin the process of repairing their relationship. The act of forgiving does not mean that the consequences and actions of the past are completely forgotten. Rather, it allows for a shift in perspective, understanding, and room to move forward.

It is important to note that forgiveness is a process. It is not a singular event or action but a journey that requires an open heart and an honest exchange of feelings. It is an opportunity to express unresolved issues, share grievances, and, ultimately, release pain. Indeed, research has suggested that the process of forgiving and receiving forgiveness can serve as a buffer, reducing the risk for depression, and improved subjective well-being.

Although forgiving can be difficult, it is essential in order for a broken relationship to heal. Forgiveness can ultimately serve to reduce stress, anger, pain and suffering. As such, it can facilitate the process of rebuilding a relationship. Thus, regardless of the type of relationship in question, forgiveness can be imperative in healing a broken one.

About The Author

Scroll to Top