How Do You Forgive Someone Who Doesn’t Know That You Know They Hurt You?

Confused??? Me too! This post is seriously me asking for your advice. I would love to hear your opinions posted in the comments. 

Please note: I am not going to share the specific offense that someone (PERSON A) did because it affects another close personal relationship (PERSON B). I do not want to cause PERSON B any further heartache over this situation.

So here are the basics of the situation….

I just found out that PERSON A did something that wounded me in a very personal and emotional way. PERSON A is not someone close to me… however, the other PERSON B involved is very close to me. I have only met and interacted with PERSON A on one occasion. I thought we clicked as friends. We had an intellectual and a little bit spiritual conversation. My whole family interacted with PERSON A. We exchanged phone numbers, later exchanged texts, and friended each other on Facebook.

Tonight, PERSON B told me the offense PERSON A did over a month ago.

It hurts. It hurts badly…

As of right now, I assume that PERSON A does not know that I know what they did.

In my “FORGIVE THEM” post back in 2010, I talked about how forgiveness is more to help you heal than it is for the offender. I quoted the following from Dr. Davis’ “How To Heal A Wounded Spirit” sermon:

“If someone wounds you and walks away without doing anything to help; that does not mean that you have to lay there and die… If someone wounds you either knowingly or unknowingly and walks away; who is going to be in the worse shape 6 months from now if you don’t treat it? You or Them?”

PERSON B is directly involved and because of that I have to work through some issues with them. I will eventually come to forgive them because of how close we are and that is what needs to happen in order for that relationship to heal. I need some time to process, but forgiveness towards them WILL happen. With God’s help, I know it will.

PERSON A is not someone who I have to interact with ever again. I could delete their phone number and unfriend them on Facebook. I may never have to see or speak to them again. There is always the chance that they could call or text me but I don’t know if they would or not. There is always the chance of seeing them in public but I never have before so… I would say that the chance is slim (just not impossible). I could ignore them if we ever come in contact again.

I know that for my sake and in order to be obedient to Christ, I must eventually forgive PERSON A.

My question is: Do I let them know that I know what they did and let them know that I forgive them (when I get to the mindset of being able to do so)? ~OR~ Do I forgive them and move on without mentioning it to them?

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

(please post in the comments…)

And if you think about it, please keep me in prayer as I seek God’s wisdom in this situation. Pray for God to heal my heart and help me to forgive all of the people involved.

“Shaking hands” image found here.

5 comments on “How Do You Forgive Someone Who Doesn’t Know That You Know They Hurt You?

  1. My friend Joy Hopkins posted the following on Facebook:
    “My question is: Do I let them know that I know what they did and let them know that I forgive them (when I get to the mindset of being able to do so)? ~OR~ Do I forgive them and move on without mentioning it to them?”

    “While working through the 12 Steps of recovery you eventually come across steps 8 “Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all” and step 9 “We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

    I bring up step 8 because you should continually be in prayer that your heart would soften towards person A, so that if they ever did come to you (and bring up the issue), you would be able to apologize for holding a resentment against them for so long. That doesn’t mean you reform a friendship with them and set yourself up to be injured by them again. Only that you ‘live in peace with your fellow man as much as you are able’ (Rom 12:18).

    Now onto step 9. Key words “except when to do so would injure them or others”. Is confronting them going to hurt them (person A) or others (person B). Forgiveness is meant to be done without causing damage to another. Although confrontation is often done with the best of intentions, hurting them (by bringing the issue up, especially if they do not know they have wronged you to begin with) often ends up becoming an act of vengeance as an attempt to find peace. There are exceptions though. Sometimes God calls us to confront another about a sin in their life that needs correcting. ONLY do this if you feel God is sincerely calling you to confront them. If God calls you to, He will have already been preparing your heart AND their heart. If you do so without His guidance, well… you are a leader and I’m sure you know the consequences that happen when we insert ourselves into a position God did not intend for us.

    As for person B, it is hard to tell if they were involved in the harm/wrongdoing you have felt, or if you are angry in the fact that they got hurt by person A, or put themselves in the position to be harmed and got hurt as a result. If they already know they have hurt you, offering forgiveness isn’t going to harm them. It sounds like they also may fall into the Matthew 5:23,24 category, the verse used along step 9 in Celebrate Recovery, ‘if offering your gift at altar and remember your brother has something against you, leave your gift there. First go and be reconciled, then come offer your gift’. The Greek word for brother in this verse is ‘adelphos’ and is almost always used in context as ‘a fellow believer in the family of faith’. The Bible gives extensive instructions for how to handle confrontation with another believer. (I’m not going to type it all up here but you can google it and easily find all the verses.)
    So, what happens when you need to forgive someone but can’t tell them or confront them because it would harm them or others? Almost everyone who has worked the steps will face this issue. Some face this because the person who has wronged them is dead, some because the person doesn’t know they’ve wronged them. I personally have had to go through both scenarios. First is step 8 again, praying for willingness. Another part of the process is remembering that we forgive others because He first forgave us; and He forgave us while we were still living in sin, and had nothing to do with us deserving forgiveness (Eph 4:32, Col 3:13, Rom 5:8).

    Some practical processes that may help you to forgive: Writing a letter to the person and burying or burning it. Writing a list of reasons you forgive this person. Writing specific prayers to God, especially ones that include your desire to follow Him and do His will and to fulfill that you need His strength, help, and power to truly forgive, because you know He desires that.

    Hopefully this helps, and I pray you come to feel at peace.”

    • Joy,
      Thank you for your response. Just to clarify one thing…. PERSON A absolutely knows that they wronged me. They just don’t know that I know about it. I will eventually come to forgive them for my own sake. I am seeking advice as to whether i should bring it up to them (confrontation and forgiveness) or just let it go.

      The relationship with PERSON B is already on the path to repair. They made me aware of the situation with PERSON A and has asked me to forgive them for their part in it. They know I need time to process and pray but they know that my forgiveness will eventually come.

  2. First and foremost, (((HUGS))) and prayers coming your way! hubby and I just sat and had a long discussion based on your question… Here is our view point on it… Forgiveness is a means of restoration…. Of restoration between you and Person B, you and Person A, you and God, Person A and Person B, Person B and God, and Person A and God… By telling Person A that you forgive them… when you are ready… could have eternal effects. If they are a Christian, your forgiveness could help push for repentance. If they are not a Christian, your forgiveness could allow them to see that forgiveness is truly a free gift – one they can receive from God through the blood of Jesus Christ! It is kinda like when you get saved… you have to share it and talk about it for it to really have an impact… In the same way, it is through talking about your forgiveness for the individual that will make the biggest eternal impact.

    On a more personal note, Person Z hurt me… I had thought I had forgiven them… but hadn’t forgotten it. And I turned bitter towards them. They are a sibling in Christ, so I had to address it with them to restore that relationship between us as friends as well as restore that relationship as siblings in Christ. Granted, the offense was not a huge one… But I will say that it wasn’t until I spoke with the individual that the bitterness disappeared!

    Praying God gives you the answer that is best for you and your family ❤

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