Forgiving What You Can’t Forget Book Summary By Lysa TerKeurst

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Forgiving What You Can't Forget, by Lysa TerKeurst, takes an honest look at the issue of how to heal from past hurts.

The book draws on her personal experiences of surviving abuse and infidelity in a marriage.

Through this open narrative, she provides insight into understanding what comes with forgiveness and how to implement it into your life.

In this way, readers can gain valuable strategies for building resilience in the face of hurtful memories—and learn how to forgive what they can’t forget.

Forgiving What You Can't Forget Book

Book Name: Forgiving What You Can't Forget (Discover How to Move On, Make Peace with Painful Memories, and Create a Life That’s Beautiful Again)

Author(s): Lysa TerKeurst

Rating: 3.6/5

Reading Time: 25 Minutes

Categories: Motivation & Inspiration

Author Bio

Lysa TerKeurst is a household name in the Christian circles.

She is the leader of Proverbs 31 Ministries, a Christian ministry directed towards helping women find their footing in God's world.

Moreover, she is a very successful author with her works having made it to New York Times' best selling list including "It's Not Supposed to Be This Way" (2018) and "Uninvited" (2016).

In terms of writing, TerKeurst prefers penning her ideas down at her farm table in North Carolina.

When asked about her favorite writing spot, she never fails to mention this same place where she can enjoy peace while spreading God's message and wisdom.

How Letting Go Of Hurt And Forgiving Can Bring Peace In Life

Peace In Life

When Lysa TerKeurst experienced her husband’s infidelity, she felt a pain that seemed impossible to get over.

She wanted desperately to rid herself of every memory and momento, without realizing that wouldn’t help the hurt she was feeling and only made it worse.

What she eventually learned is that in order for her to heal and move forward, she had to find healthy ways to process her own pain by forgiving what she couldn’t forget.

The book teaches others how to do this, from accepting their past experiences, making peace with painful memories, learning healthy coping strategies, and understanding why there’s no such thing as a “right” time for forgiveness.

Taking the steps needed for personal growth can be challenging but it is ultimately necessary in order to heal and become a stronger person.

The Power Of God’s Forgiveness: How To Find Healing And Hope When You’Re Heartbroken

The author of Forgiving What You Can’t Forget, faced a trauma when she discovered her husband had been cheating on her.

Filled with immense pain, it felt like the only way out was anesthesia – to forget all that had happened.

However, as time passed, she realized she had to forgive her husband if she was ever going to heal and move on.

The key concept of the book is this: In order to find healing and peace again, one must first learn how to forgive.

It might seem impossible at first- often times the desire to make others suffer overcomes us instead of taking those moments to reach out and ask for God’s help.

But through grace we are given the strength to let go and be forgiven in return.

When asked if forgiveness could really rescue someone from such an awful situation, the author spoke confidently about her experience; After deciding to cooperate with God in some way – whether it be words or actions–healing started pouring over her life.

Even though forgiving can be difficult at first, surrendering it over to God can beautiful free us from our suffering so that we can begin to walk on a path of genuine recovery.

We Don’T Need To Wait For Others To Realize They Were Wrong Before We Can Begin To Heal

God's Forgiveness

The concept of forgiveness can be a challenging one.

Sometimes we feel like the person who wronged us needs to show some form of restitution before we can even consider forgiveness.

We think that if only they acknowledge their mistake, then maybe things will seem fairer, and we can contemplate forgiving them.

However, if you wait for this moment to forgive, you may be delaying your healing.

This was something the author in “Forgiving What You Can’t Forget” had to experience first-hand during a therapy session with her counselor, Jim.

She wanted her husband’s remorse for what he’d done before she could begin the process of healing, yet Jim asked her whether she wanted to heal from past hurt regardless of his actions or lack thereof.

Jim offered the author a way forward by providing her with 3×5 cards on which she could write all the things she needed to forgive her husband for and declare them verbally in order to come to a new understanding about it all.

By talking through and acknowledging each injury on its own card and sealing each declaration with red felt squares, the author found solace in not needing others’ repentance as validation and finally made progress towards true healing rather than staying stuck in resentment and anger.

Waiting for someone else’s apology can delay your own inner peace so take action now no matter what they do or don’t do – forgiving what you cannot forget will help you find true healing at last.

We Must Move Beyond Our Coping Mechanisms And Open Ourselves Up To Healing

Coping Mechanisms

One key finding the author of “Forgiving What You Can’t Forget” discovered is that coping mechanisms don’t help us to deal with difficult situations in the long-term.

We may turn to alcohol, drugs, or unhealthy relationships as a way of avoiding our pain, but these strategies can create an alternate reality which keeps us stuck and prevents us from healing.

In order to truly heal and move forward, we need to acknowledge our reality and accept what has happened so we can address any further healing needs we have.

Working with a counselor may provide helpful insight into the things that are keeping us from forgiving others (or ourselves) and taking the next step.

While it’s normal to be scared or reluctant on this journey towards forgiveness, it is important to remember that it doesn’t necessarily mean letting go of any boundaries or enabling bad behaviour; rather it allows you to find peace within yourself and take back control over your life.

Connecting The Dots Of Our Pasts To Forgive And Heal In The Present

It’s a well-known truth that if you want to forgive someone in the present, you must first make an effort to understand what has happened in the past.

This is especially true when it comes to past traumas and significant losses.

That’s why author and forgiveness expert Lesley Phillips created her book Forgiving What You Can’t Forget: through her own personal story of healing and pain, she shows how revisiting one’s past – or what she calls “collecting the dots” – is an essential part of forgiving others and oneself.

Each morning at her gray wooden table, she would sit with her tears and Bible for comfort.

Through continued meetings with colleagues who also had their own experiences of pain, everyone soon realized that there were some unforgiven things from their pasts still haunting them.

The key takeaway was that when it comes to learning to forgive, looking back is just as important as moving forward.

Phillips did this by identifying things in her life that still linger on and shape how we approach relationships today; such as growing up in a single-wide trailer without a father or being emotionally abused by a babysitter during her teenage years.

These unresolved issues impacted how she viewed men and relationships down the line as an adult.

Phillips emphasizes that “forgiveness isn’t just about what’s in front of us.” To learn true forgiveness, it requires digging deep within ourselves to uncover stories and experiences from long ago that still affect our behavior today.

And only then can we connect those dots and finally move forward with full understanding and compassion for ourselves – which is all part of the journey towards lasting peace, love, acceptance and inner harmony!

Revise Your Belief Systems To Heal From Your Past Experiences

The Forgiving What You Can’t Forget book presents the idea that connecting the dots is about revising one’s belief system.

The author, in particular, subjects her beliefs about men to new scrutiny when continuing with a relationship with her husband, Art.

Her past experiences have led her to mistrust men, but by looking actively and honestly at those experiences alongside their relationship together, she finds healing.

Connecting the dots means acknowledging that the beliefs one forms from past experiences aren’t necessarily applicable in every situation.

The author needed to be willing to look at why she had come to believe what she did in order for true healing to take place.

She came to accept how Art’s past had impacted him as well – he had grown up in a household where emotions weren’t expressed so was unable meet her needs exactly as expected.

By understanding this connection and accepting it fully, the couple were able to move on successfully and even renew their marriage vows.

This is testament to how revising our belief systems can help us forgive those who hurt us and move beyond difficult experiences into a healthier future.

It Takes Connecting, Correcting, And Reframing The Dots To Move On From Trauma


In her book, Forgiving What You Can’t Forget, author Lysa Terkeurst teaches us the important lesson of learning how to reframe our suffering and move forward in healthy ways.

A key component to this is understanding that collecting and connecting the dots of our past isn’t enough; we need to correct them too.

Connecting the dots helps us identify where our pain from the past comes from and how we can best handle it.

Once we’ve done that, it’s time for the next step: correcting those dots.

This means taking the beliefs we’ve formed based on experiences and understanding if they’re life-giving or negative, then figuring out what needs to be done in order to turn them into positive thoughts.

For example, if a person is having difficulties accepting something in their past, they may ask themselves questions like “How might I look at this differently?”, “What good could come if I forgive them?” or “What would a healthy version of me be empowered to do from here?”.

This process can help reframe their suffering and move forward in healthy ways rather than getting bogged down by negative emotions and thoughts.

Additionally, reading verses from religious texts like the Bible can help someone remember that sometimes God works through even painful experiences if you have faith in him.

In her book, Terkeurst shares Romans 5:3-5 which states that suffering will result in character building perseverance and hope when your faith is put into practice—all of which can help someone gain perspective during tough times.

How Forgiveness Is The Key To Moving Forward After A Traumatic Experience

Forgiveness can be incredibly hard to come by, especially when something has been taken away or done to us that we can’t change.

This was the case for the author of Forgiving What You Can’t Forget: Learning to Love the People Who Hurt You.

As a young girl in an old black-and-white photo, she can be seen leaning against a tree with a faint smile.

But behind this facade was a deep hurt from being abused by her grandmother’s neighbor and it had stolen from her so much of what made her who she is: her innocence, her imaginative spirit and her sense of self worth.

The realization that we cannot change certain things that have happened to us in our pasts is never an easy one to come to terms with – which makes learning how to forgive those responsible even harder.

However, when we are able to let go of punishing them, even if only in our own minds, it allows us to find peace and healing on new levels.

The author realized that while forgiveness doesn’t equate with forgetting what took place or letting someone off the hook – it does mean giving up the desire for revenge or any form of payment back for it.

Instead, it allows us to give all anger and need for justice over to the Lord and lets Him deal with punishing those responsible in His own way if necessary.

Forgiving isn’t easy but remembering that it offers us more satisfaction than revenge eases some of this burden considerably.

Forgiveness Is A Journey, Not A Destination: Embracing Ongoing Forgiveness After Traumatic Experiences

Traumatic Experiences

The author’s key message in her book Forgiving What You Can’t Forget is that forgiveness isn’t a one-time event.

It’s an ongoing process, and something we need to practice over and over again.

Just because you may feel like you have moved on from certain events doesn’t mean those events no longer affect you.

When pain or the memory of a trauma resurfaces, it can be easy to think that all of your hard work has been wasted.

But rather than seeing it as a failure, the author encourages us to look at this as part of our journey towards true forgiveness.

Her advice? When faced with memories of past pain, take a moment to grieve what was lost; next recognize any feelings of fear that arise and ask whether they are leftover emotions or something you should pay attention to; lastly, assess your sentiment towards the person involved in the situation and decide if working through it aloud or in silence will help.

This continual process is what really makes up true forgiving; and while there may never be a single moment where we totally move beyond all our traumas, just striving for that goal on an ongoing daily basis can make all the difference.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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