Forgiving What You Can’t Forget by Lysa Terkeurst

How can you heal, let go, and move on in your life without continuing to carry the emotional and mental trauma and thoughts of past hurts? Lysa Terkeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries brings refreshing insight in Forgiving What You Can’t Forget: Discover How to Move On, Make Peace with Painful Memories, and Create a Life That’s Beautiful Again! In her down-to-earth writing style, she speaks through each chapter to us as if we are sitting at her gray wooden table sharing a heart-to-heart conversation over comforting beverages.

I love the title of this book. How often have we been told to “just forgive and forget about it?” But what about when you cannot forget? When that incident(s) repeatedly slams into the forefront of your mind. Or you even choose to hang on to it by continually bring it up so that you never do forget.

With great empathy Lysa gives us a step-by-step guide so we can “forgive even if you can’t forget.”

She is very transparent revealing how much she wrestled with this topic in her journey! She exposes the many times she cried tears of frustration, pain, and feeling defeated before she eventually grew to discover hope, healing, and total forgiveness. Lysa reveals different coping skills – helpful and damaging – and gives us examples of healthy ones to adopt. She talks about triggers that hijack our emotions. She identifies ways unforgiveness affects our health and all of our relationships. And she even offers us examples of tools to try from her many sessions with her counselor.

Lysa addresses hard, life-changing topics such as child abuse, suicide, perpetual neglect, death, and divorce. She explores reconciliation – or not reconciling. She shares personal trauma stories from her childhood to her recent marriage implosion. As well as gives accounts from personal friends’ lives.

While some people have not been able to put this book down once they picked it up, I had to take breaks to let the many revelations process and settle in my mind and heart. Lysa gives us so much and then it’s up to us to choose to pick it up and put it into practice.

Why do we struggle to forgive – especially when we know the Bible tells us repeatedly to forgive?

It’s not always as simple as “just do it.” As Christians we may know it is important and that we are supposed to do it, however it isn’t easy for those really deep hurts. Lysa does a great job walking us – and herself – through understanding why we can’t and don’t always freely forgive. Addressing topics such as bitterness, resentment, anger, hatred, and more – all connected with unforgiveness. She then unpacks Scripture to help us understand why we need to forgive. And this comes out of over 1,000 hours of theological study alone and with others!

Lysa repeatedly reminds us that “the goal with forgiveness isn’t perfection—it’s progress.”

This book ends with “A Journey Through What the Bible Actually Says About Forgiveness” and takes us through relevant scripture verses with explanations.  As well as “Lysa’s Most Asked Questions on Forgiveness” and “Getting the Help You Need” chapters. And lastly, Lysa offers free downloadable resources “for the days when forgiveness feels especially hard.”

This is a great book to read as a stand-alone! Or you can use it as part of the Forgiving What You Can’t Forgive Video with DVD with free streaming access and Study Guide, and The Forgiveness Journal.

Also, if you haven’t already, I suggest you read her riveting “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way” and “Seeing Beautiful Again Devotions”.


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