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. Erica Buekes says:

    I’m battling forgiveness for abuse as a child and a divorce after 30 years. My children are badly affected.

  2. Vanessa Whitfield says:

    Thank you so much for giving to the Kingdom!

  3. Pam Kurfees says:

    so grateful for the amazing insight Dr. Graham brings to us so that we may have a closer relationship with Christ. Will always remember the Crusade in Charlotte NC and having the privilege to be asked to go down to the alter with a family friend of my daughter to accept Christ as her savior today she works in Atlanta for MAP! PTL❤️

  4. Burnease Dean says:

    The Lord taught me that forgiveness is a choice. He also taught me that even if you don’t feel that you have forgiven keep confessing that you forgive the offence and the feelings will come in time.

    1. Marie M. says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your spiritual journey. It helped me a lot in reading your post. As I am starting this healing process, I am realizing that I have to persevere and keep praying. Blessings.

  5. Gary Moore says:

    Les Parrot once said; “are there times when you deserve to have ‘righteous indignation’. Yes there are, but you cannot afford them.”

  6. Linda Cross says:

    Thank you Dr. Graham. God bless you.

  7. Paulette Gentle says:

    Forgiveness is the seed of life and it keeps you growing. As Kendall says hurting is inevitable but staying in hurt is is a choice to sin. It’s better to forgive your offender and move on than to continue block your growth by choosing to hold on. Let go and let God.

  8. Terrie C says:

    What I have learned about unforgiveness and not forgiving others, it is like taking poison but expecting the other person to die. When you don’t forgive others you are the one who actually is suffering, because all of that built up hurt, pain and bitterness only causes you to suffer and can eventually cause sickness. Jesus is the only one who can give you release and comfort when YOU choose to give it to Him and let it go!