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. India says:

    I have much difficulty with this topic. It is very hard for me to let go and when I think I have, I find that I’m still mad. I’m reminded of the passage in Matthew where the servant was forgiven by his master but he didn’t forgive his friend when he had the opportunity. Lack of forgiveness can be a terrible thing on the mind, body, and spirit. Jesus, help me to fully forgive…

  2. Zona Kiel says:

    Please pray for reconciliation for our marriage of 38 years. He has leftme now for almost 2 years.

  3. Victoria Garcia says:

    Unforgiveness is the devils dirty work, let’s not please him!

  4. Tayo adebiyi says:

    Very powerful words, I will definitely apply them to my life.

  5. Daina Norton says:

    My 18 yr. old sons an addict in and out of jail. We let him come home after 6 months in jail giving him a fresh start. After 2 weeks he failed to follow our rules staying gone 2 days at a time. He is using again and is on probation for 5 years. So hard to not let this consume me. My heart breaks for him knowing he’s staying at friends whoever wherever. He just met with our pastor I was so thankful he kept his word and showed up for their dinner. One good choice thank you Jesus

  6. David Omoloye says:

    Forgiveness is a STRANGER to human nature. No matter how we try in the flesh to forgive we cannot truly forgive. To forgive we must share in God’s nature as forgiveness can only originate from God but not self. Forgiveness is expression of agape love which is planted in our heart by the Holy Spirit. To forgive, all that is required is submission to God who only can uproot bitterness from our hearts and replace it with His LOVE that radiate out to initiate LOVE in others. May The Lord grant us the GRACE. Amen.

  7. Tina M says:

    Reading all these comments, I see Jesus Christ in each and everyone of them.
    He is the one constant in my life that, without Him, I would be a total HEEP of self pity, resentment, unforgiveness, jealousy, hatred, unbelieving, DID I SAY SELF PITTY? BUT of course I did. I have been there, thru each & every one of them. Only by the grace of Jesus Christ Was I able to let it all go. I gave it all to Him!!!
    Ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart, to dwell and live with you forever. Ask Him to take your burdens from you. Ask Him for forgiveness of yiur

  8. Marilyn says:

    I held a grudge for many years against a family member but the Lord showed me that I cannot enter heaven's gates with these thoughts. I finally, with God's help, realized that no one is worth going to hell for. I forgave as God forgives me.

  9. L says:

    Grew up in a very conflicted family with many painful experiences. Our Lord must be working in my life today; as I now pray often and look to my Heavenly Father for answers.

  10. Paulette says:

    I have been in church force almost my entire life and in about 2 years ago I decided I will change my life.I am leaning on the lord for everything and I now praying that he help me with forgiveness. I am living a better life.