rebelling against low expectations

Any advice on how to forgive someone you hate?


P. WRITES: My sister and I have been quite unlucky when it comes to stepfathers. Our current one, who is very similar to the last one in many ways, has repeatedly put me, my sister, my real father, my mentally-challenged uncle, and several other people down repeatedly.

Over the years he has screamed profanities at us, called us names, and insulted us. And these tantrums are followed by a period of silent treatment, then an apology, and an expectation from our mother for us to all “get along.”

He ignores us some days and refuses to even look at us, and if we try to talk to our mother with him around he whispers to her about why we are wrong and that we shouldn’t get whatever it is we are asking for.

My sister and I are not angels, but as any of you who are children of unsuccessfully blended families probably know, it stinks to have an adult figure in your life who you are forced to live with, but don’t feel like you could ever fully trust.

This has been the cycle for years, and for years before that with Step-Dad #1. I’ve come to the point where I don’t even want to forgive him or be kind to him. I know all the Bible verses about depending on Jesus and forgiving someone seventy-times-seven times, but my heart just isn’t in it.

Anybody have a wake up call for me?

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  • Oh wow. That is really, really hard. I have a hard enough time forgiving the littlest things. I really don’t feel qualified to give advice on this topic, but this true story from Corrie ten Boom’s life helped me see forgiveness in a new light. It’s really powerful:

    “Forgiveness is not an emotion…Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”

    I’ll be praying for you, P.!!!
    Bought with a Price,
    – Riley

  • Ok, I’m really sorry, but when I read the title of this DQ I smiled, but then when I read the description, I (didn’t cry), but I did feel for ya. This is ‘the hard stuff of forgiveness’ -Christopher Whitmer.

    Quite frankly,… IT’S REALLY HARD. And (sorry for my lack of wisdom) my only advice (the only experience I have is = none) is to just bite the bullet and forgive and forget. Maybe talk to your pastor about it. And (most importantly) pray for your Step Dad, a lot, like all the time.

    Unless, as Brett has reminded me in the past, you are being abused, in that case you need to seek help.

  • My first reaction to this post was “Run, don’t get involved, don’t try to help”.
    I’m scared of accidentally saying the wrong thing. But I will do my best to speak truth.

    From the short description I read, this sounds like abuse – not physical abuse, but verbal abuse, and that is seriously wrong. I have never had to deal with that, so I don’t have 100% certainty where you should go from there.

    Brett Harris, this is too much for me to handle. What does this person have to do?

    • oh.. I didn’t think of it as verbal abuse… but it does sound a lot that way now that i think about it… I want to know what Brett will say, I have never thought of how to deal with verbal abuse.

    • You make a good point, Trent. I didn’t really think of that until I read your comment. It is good to get help there, yes! It is still also necessary to forgive.

          • Heavenly Father, I pray for P. tonight, you know who P is and what and P and P’s sister are dealing with, I pray that you would be near to them, protect their hearts and minds, I pray that you would give them grace and your love for their step father… I pray that you would “close the lion’s mouth.” that you would stop him from saying hurtful and abusive things.
            I pray that you would give P. wisdom with what to do; I pray that they would feel you near to them, and know that the unkind things that their step father is saying aren’t true and are not from you. I pray for healing upon their family. That you would bring their step father to you and that you would bring glory to yourself through P, through P’s sister and through this circumstance.

            In Jesus name I pray.

            Isaiah 48:10 See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.

            Isaiah 54:10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed,
            yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
            nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
            says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

    • Thanks for the heads up, Trent. I was aware of P’s submission because I processed it and posted it. But I certainly agree that it sounds like emotional abuse. If you aren’t familiar with HARO’s free resource “Child Abuse 101 for Homeschoolers” you should check it out. Obviously, it is helpful for non-homeschoolers too, but homeschoolers especially tend to be under-educated on identifying and appropriately responding to abuse.

      I am planning to share this with P as well. The emotional abuse allegation is one of the hardest to prove, unfortunately, but can be just as damaging as other forms of abuse.

    • My mom was in an abusive relationship with a guy a few years ago. I’ll just call him “Ex.” Ex was nice in a few ways, but it got old fast. He tried to control and belittle my mom (ironically, it was one of the main reasons my parents divorced.) I remember one time I heard them arguing. I decided to stand up to Ex and tell him to respect her. He scolded me for getting involved and that I had nothing to with it. He made me feel I couldn’t stand up in my own home. He eventually left. I have no means of contact with him (which is for the best.) The point is, he wasn’t that great, and neither was my dad. But I don’t hate them. In fact, I feel sorry for them. Their lives have been ruined because of decisions they made, and both thought they could cling to my mom because she believes in hard work. I don’t know why these things happen to us and why we can’t live in peace, but I know that times come when we have to stand up for ourselves. We either roll up into a ball, act submissive, or we firmly set our feet on the Rock. I hope we can do the latter.

      • Thank you for sharing this eye-opening story, alana. It makes me wonder if the reason you went through that (as terrible as it was) was so that you could help others who have gone through similar circumstances. Thank you once again for sharing!

  • That’s really hard, I am so sorry!
    I would say the biggest thing for me when I need to forgive someone is this:

    If not for Christ we could be that person… that as ugly and awful as that person seems, that was how my sin looked to God, but MORE… yet Jesus died for me… and forgave me… and poured His spirit upon me so that I can love with agape love like Himself.
    Agape is love is unconditional… it isn’t a feeling as much as it is a commitment- a commitment to love when I don’t feel like loving, forgive when it’s hard and the other person isn’t sorry.
    To continue to be Christ to that person, because you may be the only experience that they have of someone continually being the hands and feet of Jesus.

    It’s hard, my Dad left almost six years ago. He’s not mean, he just isn’t sorry. I haven’t seen him in over a year…
    God has taught and been teaching me over the years that, that isn’t what defines me, and to be angry and unforgiving towards my dad is actually more of a detriment to myself and my walk with God.
    Prayers for you,
    In Christ, Susannah

  • Lord God,
    I pray that you would help “P” to seek you and to do what you want him/her to do. Give hum/her wisdom, decernment, and the courage to follow it. Please protect “P” and his/her sister. Please, destroy all the evil influencing that house. And please pass on this message to any demonic forces in or near that house:

    “I command you to leave and NEVER RETURN. I command you to leave “P” and his/her family alone. In the name of JESUS, I command you to leave! You have no choice – leave in the name of Jesus!”

    Thank you God for everything you have given us. Please help us to honestly seek and follow you. Through the powerful name of Jesus I pray,

    • Dear Lord, I ask you to give peace to everyone in this messy situation, give them the peace that passes all understanding. And give them the power to rise above the situation and do what you would have them to do. And please just give them healing and allow them to concrete their relationships with both you and their whole family. In your name I pray, amen.

    • Dear Jesus,
      Thank You for knowing each one of us personally. Thank You for hearing us when we call out to You!
      Right now, I ask that You would just comfort “P”. Please show Yourself strong and good in this bad situation. Guide “P” and other people in or near the situation; bring wisdom for what to do. I know that it is sometimes hard if not impossible to see that You are with us, but You promise to be and even when we can’t see it You carry us.
      Please bring freedom to “P”‘s life and to the lives of the others involved. Deliver us from evil, God!
      I ask for healing and restoration in Jesus’ name, Amen

    • Matthew 18:19-20 Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

    • Dear Abba Father,
      I pray that you would deliver “P”. I pray that you would allow the veil to fall off her step dad’s eyes that he might see the hurt and damage he is causing and turn from his sin. Please help “P” to know your comfort and protection right now. Lord, hear the prayers of all these young people for “P” and her family.
      In the all powerful Name of Jesus!

    • God,
      Please help P to get through this time. I pray that you give him strength even when he doesn’t ask you for it, and that you show him how to forgive and where the fine line is between forgiving and being too trusting.
      Please help P, his sister, and his mom to grow closer together throughout this trial, and please show his mom what she’s putting up with.

    • Lord God,
      Thank You for “P” and for his/her precious life that You have given. I pray that you will give “P” the will and grace to forgive the stepfather just as You have forgiven us. I also pray that you will reassure “P” of the promise in Isaiah 43:1-2 that You will never leave or forsake us. Give wisdom and understanding to “P” on how to go about this situation and that You will show Your mighty hand of deliverance.
      In the name of Jesus,

    • Dear God,
      I pray that you’re with P and his/her family. I know you don’t give up on us, especially in the wilderness and storms. I pray you touch their stepfather’s heart. Soften it so he can see the good. Warm it so he can feel and have mercy. Break it so he can love again. Do whatever it takes.
      I thank you for all that you’ve done. You do and allow everything for our own good.
      In Jesus’ name I pray,

    • Father, I pray for P.’s stepfather. Whatever is troubling him, whatever is causing him to hurt P. and his/her sister, I pray that You would take it away. Show Yourself to this man. Show him that he can find his worth in You, not in putting his family down. Lord, I know it’s a messy situation, but as my pastor said recently, God excels in messiness! This man needs You. I pray that You would save his soul. I pray that he would man up and lead his family in a godly way.

      I pray also for P.’s mother, that she would recognize her husband’s actions as harmful and speak up. I ask that You would save her, too, if You haven’t already.

      Please be with P. and his/her sister. Protect them any further abuse and give them the strength to persevere. Lord, if they don’t know You, I pray that You would draw them to Yourself. And show them that You are able to work out this situation for their good and Your glory.

      In Jesus’ Name, amen.

  • Dear Lord, I pray that you would would be with P and his/her family during this difficult time. Bring them the healing that only You can. Give P and P’s sister the wisdom and the courage to do Your will in this difficult situation. Lord, remind them that You will always be with them and will provide the strength they need. May they rely on your love to get through. In Jesus’s holy name, Amen.

  • I’m in no position to address this particular issue, honestly. I can’t even pretend to know what you’ve gone through and even now are experiencing. But I do know that God never puts us through more than we can handle. His grace will always be greater than the challenges we might be facing. His love for us exceeds the height of the heavens, the depth of the oceans, and He said He will never leave us, nor forsake us. Physical abuse is hard, verbal abuse is hard, but Jesus came to earth as a human; experienced physical and verbal abuse and unimaginable torment at the hand of those who should have honored and revered Him most. So when we go through storms in life, we can remember that He knows exactly what we’re going through, and He’s there to listen, to care for and love you. Ask Him daily for the strength to forgive, to love, to trust, to follow in His footsteps. Remember, He is always with you; no matter what. But also, pray for those that persecute you. It’s hard to stay bitter at someone when you continually pray on their behalf. God can change someone’s heart. Continue to be a witness for Him.

  • I jumped on here a little late for the prayer party, but know that I am praying for you “P”.

    Never forget that God loves you so much that he sent his son down to save you. And Never forget that you are a treasure!!

  • I know this will probably come across all wrong, because I writing this and not sitting down with you over a cup of tea, P. I’m sorry.

    I have no experience with the type of situation you are dealing with, and like so many others around here, I am praying for you. But I did have one really odd, really out of the blue thought, and I’ve learned to pay attention to those.

    Have you ever considered, in a moment when you can rationally distance yourself from the pain, that God has placed these difficult men in your life for a reason? No, I’m not saying that God is pleased with the evil words and actions and the lies you hearing every day. I am not saying that God likes this AT ALL. I am merely saying that God is sovereign (i.e. a whole lot bigger than we are!) and He can see the big picture. We can’t. I certainly can’t see good coming out of what you are describing. But God allows things only when they further His sovereign plan.

    I know that the following is a poor illustration – please forgive that. Back in ninth grade, I had a friend tell me she didn’t want to be friends anymore. I had been friends with this person for quite a number of years, and had proceeded to make an idol out of this person (though I didn’t see that at the time.) I was hurt, shaken and proceeded to withdraw from social life. That 5 minutes defined my life for way too long. Then God opened my eyes to the fact that HE allowed it to happen. He knew that it was not good for me to chase after humans and put them on a pedestal in my heart. He knew that He needed to be on that pedestal. I can honestly say now – almost five years later – that those nasty five minutes were the best thing for me. God’s plan – even when it looks nasty- is best.

    Whatever you and your sister decide to do, run to Jesus. Listen to the truths that God speaks about who He created you. Don’t get crippled by a lie. That is exactly what Satan wants. He wants to twist God’s good plan into evil. But God created you and made you good. You are worth fighting for, dying for, living for. (And guess what, Jesus did!)

    Your sister in Christ,

    • That sorta reminds me of “Come to Jesus” by Chris Rice. Running to Him is the only way to obtain TRUE life.

          • Lol. It’s played a lot at funerals (at least the ones I’ve been to), so that association may also be part of it. Some things like songs seem to naturally trigger different emotions if we’ve mentally connected them with those feelings. Interesting.

          • I’m a 14 year old girl, so an emotional reaction would kinda be expected of me. haha

          • Yeah but I think that teenage girls are expected to be waay more emotional than they really are.

          • That is SO true. I actually don’t cry that much, but I do have friends who are more emotional than me. Not extremely so, though.

    • Wow Lauren, what you described about your friend is actually very similar to a situation I’ve been in. Yep, it really hurts, but you are so right – God works out everything for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). Thanks for this!

      • Riley,
        Thank you. I can’t tell you how many times that going through that painful situation has enabled me to empathize with and to help someone else. God is good. And He KNOWS what He is doing.
        Happy New Year!
        May you see God’s hand working in your life this next year! (Cause He’s there. We just don’t see it.)

  • Praying for your family, P.
    I don’t have much personal experience here (I have an awesome family) but I would suggest reading Romans 12. Have you prayed that God would make you willing to forgive? Even if that seems too hard, pray that God would make you “willing to be willing” to forgive. Someone else mentioned Corrie Ten Boom. Her story is amazing… Read the whole book “The Hiding Place” (by her) if you can get your hands on it. Sometimes by not forgiving someone else, it is really yourself that you are hurting.

    One other thing. Look for God’s hand and how he is working good out of this. You said that you and your sister are in the same boat. Praise God for this! (I have a little more experience in the sibling area.) You both know what the other is going through and can comfort and encourage each other. How much harder would this be if you where going through this alone?! Perhaps one thing that God is working out of this is a closer relationship for you and your sister.
    to quote a book by Jenny L. Cote, “know that you are loved and that you are able.”

  • No advice, but I will definitely pray. 🙁 No one deserves to be treated like this.

    (Sorry I haven’t been commenting lately- sick with flu. xP )

  • Dear P., I wanted to pass along HARO’s free resource, “Child Abuse Awareness 101 for Homeschoolers.”

    I realize you may not be a homeschooler, but this information is really helpful for everyone.

    I believe what you are experiencing is emotional abuse. And perhaps you (or your sister) have experienced other forms of abuse as well that you haven’t identified as such, or have been made to believe that you somehow deserved, etc. It is important for your safety and your sister’s safety that you educate yourselves on abuse and know where to go for help.

    This free PDF download is thorough and provides hotline numbers for every state:

    Remember, forgiveness is important, but it is not something you can work up on your own. Cry out to Jesus and ask for His help. Don’t give up. Don’t let the abuse get you twice, once by wounding you and again by hardening your heart.

    At the same time, forgiveness does not mean allowing your stepfather to continue abusing you and your sister and allowing your mother to cover for him. Forgiveness is not permission for sin to continue. And in fact, forgiveness is usually predicated on the offending party repenting and trying to change.

    Please let me know if you have any questions about this. I am praying for you.

    In Christ Alone,

  • Brett. An excellent way of advising. And very bold. We, as Christians, have so been told to practice mercy and forgiveness, that in order to save face, we keep our mouths shut. I hope these girls have someone in their lives who might take them in like in your recent blog about Christian and his coach. It is an excellent time to start putting our faith into action, as the world is tired of our words not lining up with our actions.

    Blessings for an exceptional year ahead with Christ!

    In Him,

  • I have dealt with someone who I had harsh feelings towards but as I realized some of his backround I forgave him. Please be praying for him his name is Robert he is in prison right now for arsen.

  • Dear Lord,
    Protect and bless “P” and her family. Protect them from the evil one and help them to have Your peace and live. I pray that You will work in this man’s heart and life in a mighty way. Bring him to You.
    In Jesus’ name,
    P.S. “P”, forgiveness is one of the HARDEST things to do in life! It is an amazing blessing and is one of the hardest things we are called to do. It won’t be easy and it won’t be an instant change, but reliance upon God is the best way to learn this hard lesson. I’m so sorry you have to go through this and my prayers are with you and your family!!

    • I believe forgiveness is more of a choice than a feeling, so even if you don’t feel any different towards your step-dad doesn’t mean that you necessarily haven’t forgiven him.

  • The bible says love your enemies as yourself. You should not hate anyone. I know it’s hard but it comes with great rewards

  • Although I have never been in a situation like this, I’ll bet it’s really hard. Try to show him love, maybe your stepfather really needs it and you are in that place for a reason! Try inviting him to church, he may get something out of it! Remember GOD PUT YOU THERE FOR A REASON!!

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