Living a Lifestyle of Forgiveness

By   •   June 29, 2010

Speaker and author Jackie Kendall is an expert on forgiveness, having come from an abusive background and from a family deemed by a counselor as one of the top-ten most dysfunctional in America. Wanting to break the family cycle of drugs, alcohol and suicide (in this case, the results of unforgiveness), she developed a forgiving lifestyle and encourages others to do the same.

“There is an epidemic of unforgiveness, and it’s not just among nonbelievers – it’s among God’s children. We should be the greatest forgivers, since we’ve been forgiven of so much.”

She also believes many Christians live in defeat, not knowing what forgiveness truly is, confusing our responsibility with something only God can do – the chastening.

“Many people think that to forgive someone is to absolve them of the offense, when it is really up to us to let it go, and go to the Father. We can’t ‘let them off the hook,’ because they are on God’s ‘hook,’ not ours.”

Kendall also says a lot of Christians are not liberated because we are unrealistic about forgiveness. “Being offended means we have a pulse – anyone can offend us. Being offended is inevitable; staying offended is our choice to sin.”

She has even recently released a book about this liberation, titled Free Yourself to Love: The Liberating Power of Forgiveness.

One of the aspects of forgiveness she discusses in her book is how we tend to define ourselves by our victimization or offense committed against us. “If I were to limit myself to being defined as a victim of abuse, it would negatively impact every other area in my life. I had to forgive my offender. All six of my siblings were abused, and anesthetized themselves with drugs and alcohol. Two of them even committed suicide,” said Kendall. “Instead, I want to be defined by forgiveness and freedom.”

Breaking the Cycle of Unforgiveness

Kendall has been vigilant about not passing the seed of bitterness and unforgiveness down to her children or living it out in her marriage.

“We need to forgive so our kids don’t carry around our pain,” she said. “I’m also amazed at how many parents worry about their kids’ academic performance, whether they brush their teeth, or their eating habits, yet they allow them to fight with each other and go to bed angry.”

She, along with her husband and ministry partner, Ken, raised their children to resolve conflict and live a lifestyle of forgiveness.

“When our kids were growing up, sometimes they would go in their rooms mad at one another. After a time limit, they had to come back and resolve it…talk it through. We trained them to not go to bed angry, and we see that manifested in their adult lives in their relationships.”

The Kendalls also taught their children that some people would never ask for forgiveness. Their children were trained to pray blessings on people who hurt them but never expressed sorrow over the offense.

The concept of forgiveness has also been lifeblood to the Kendall’s 36-year marriage to one another. “My husband and I live what Ruth Graham said years ago – that a good marriage is comprised of two good forgivers. My background prepared me to be bitter, harsh and sarcastic. As I learned to forgive and let go, we have developed a great marriage and a good relationship with our grown children.”

Standing on Truth

Kendall stresses the importance of knowing, understanding and living God’s Word.

To be a good forgiver, she explains, “It is important to be so strong in your faith that it outruns your pain, leaving no room for bitterness. A lot of Christians can quote the Bible, but they don’t live it.”

A Christian counselor once pointed Kendall to 2 Corinthians 1:3-8. “This showed me that when God’s word becomes a source of comfort and heals me, I would have such confidence that I will tell other wounded people that it can heal them, too. My heart is so full of God’s Word, and it’s healing.”

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  1. Devery Penrod says:

    I cannot imagine going through an entire lifetime not knowng our Savior Jesus. I needed Him and He needed me. There is no greater love in this World.

  2. Charlie says:

    23-24″This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. The Message

  3. Barbara says:

    I was very hurt by a sister in Christ and I became very angry and lashed out at her. I asked for forgiveness and have been praying God's blessings on her. She said she forgave me but it appears she will only have a ministry type relationship with me. Friendship has been cut off. Is this true forgiveness?

  4. Becky says:

    Years ago my daughter went to grade school with a girl who was hit by a sherriffs van while playing in the snow in the middle of the street. How the van didn't see them…don't know.The mom couldn't forgive, they lost their house, the marriage ended and she started drinking…several years later she killed a Cal-Trans worker while driving drunk. She is now in prison. Hopefully she learned to forgive and has also found forgivness. Such a hard lesson to learn.

  5. Carol says:

    I am facing a trying time now as my parents are elderly and all their children are in turmoil over their care. There are 6 daughters and we have been close our whole lives until now. Forgiveness would be nice so we can continue our lives as God wants. Pray for our recovery of family. We are all believers in Our Lord Jesus Christ.

  6. Mary says:

    May the Almighty God bless you all for your work in spreading the gospel.

  7. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for sharing truth. A very timely message for all to take notice of. What the world needs now is love, in order to love you must have a forgiving heart.

  8. pray for payal says:

    Dear brother, please pray for my family and myself

  9. leahcim says:

    I am going to one of the most trying times of my life, and have turned to the Lord for the first time! My burden has been lightened.

  10. Karen says:

    I can relate to this having come out of an abusive relationship. I have learned and am learining with God's help that to forgive is the only way to break the bondage to the past pain. It's not easy but God is showing me how. I have also learned that because I have been forgiven much, I have no right to withhold forgiveness. Forgiving the offender, who may not even be sorry is where God has to step in and help us, but He will.