He Won't Forgive Me

He makes me feel horrible, telling me how much I've hurt him and how selfish I am.
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Q. I've been dating the same guy for three years. About a month ago, I said something mean to him because I was angry. I basically questioned his commitment to God. I've apologized and asked for his forgiveness, and for forgiveness from God. But my boyfriend really refuses to forgive me. He makes me feel horrible, telling me how much I've hurt him and how selfish I am. I admit I was wrong—and I've apologized. But he really seems to want me to continue to feel miserable. I don't want to just walk away, but if he won't forgive me, what choice do I have?

A. This may sound strange, but I think you should thank God for letting you experience this problem now, before you devote any more of your life to this guy. He's the one who's acting selfish. He feels sorry for himself, and he's taking out his anger on you. Apparently he can only nurse his feelings—he doesn't care about yours. He's committed to holding on to his grudge, and he doesn't know how to forgive. That's not a good quality in a relationship. In Matthew, Jesus makes it very clear that Christians can't hold grudges. "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:14-15, niv). So your boyfriend is not only hurting you—he's doing serious damage to himself and his relationship with God.

It's possible that with prayer and confession, and perhaps with counseling, your boyfriend can change. However, he certainly can't change without facing his own need for forgiveness. And facing that is probably the most painful thing for him to do.

Encourage your boyfriend to get help for his unforgiving spirit. If he still won't admit he's wrong, it's time for you to make a break. Tell him that you have better things to do than to hang around as the victim of his anger. When he's ready to forgive and be forgiven, he can call. I know that's hard to do to someone you love. But staying around is simply reinforcing his destructive and harmful behavior.

Due to the volume of mail, Tim cannot answer every letter.

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