If I’ve Forgiven, Why Do I Still Get Triggered?

What if I told you that everything you thought about forgiveness was wrong? That in seven short minutes, I will help you understand why these people still set you off and you get triggered–even years after you’ve walked away and forgiven them.

I’m going to answer the question that’s been haunting you once and for all—“Have I truly forgiven?”—and overcome the biggest forgiveness myth holding back Christians today. 

It all comes down to bookmarks. 

I want you to think of your life as a book, and each significant trauma or experience as a different chapter. When someone hurts you, it’s like placing a bookmark in that particular chapter. You can believe that you’ve forgiven and then move on. However, the bookmarks still remain in the book.

Even as you continue living your life, those bookmarks make it easy to flip back to the painful chapters. This act of inadvertently returning to these chapters can make you feel as though you haven’t truly moved on or forgiven, even though you’ve tried to close the chapter.

There are three reasons why it’s so easy to flip back to those bookmarks and get triggered.

Reason #1: Unresolved trauma

Many bookmarks were created by a traumatic experience—one that you’ve tried to push aside, but it still needs to be dealt with.

You may be thinking, “Yeah but that was 20 years ago. I should be able to let it go by now.”

But letting something go is not the same as resolving it. 

We often think avoidance is the best option (and don’t get me wrong, in some cases it is). 

But if there’s stuff going on inside of you—well, everywhere you go, there you are. That’s why an old memory, an unexpected phone call, or a harsh comment can all elicit an outsized reaction.

Resolving that trauma is like removing the bookmark. 

If you have unresolved trauma, it’s important to find a good Christian counselor who can help as it can take a toll on you and your relationships. We’ve connected with Faithful Counseling to help you find a counselor that’s right for you. Simply click here for more information.

My hope is that you will get the healing that you need to work through the pain of the past and in doing so, you get to remove the bookmarks. 

But unresolved trauma is only part of the reason that you get triggered long after you’ve forgiven. 

Reason #2: Unresolved trust

If you’re not creating NEW bookmarks, it almost feels like there’s nothing worthy in your story.

So when you get triggered, you will automatically default to the old bookmarks. When your anger kicks in, when someone tries to manipulate you, when you hear about how the other person is slandering you, yet again you may not have anything new to refer to. In other words, you have unresolved trust. 

You know you can’t trust your trauma any longer, but what can you trust? If you do not create new bookmarks grounded in God’s truth, you will fall right back to unresolved trauma every time. 

So what new bookmarks do you need? 

Is it that God has a plan for your life regardless of the opinions of others? Then put a marker alongside Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

Is it that God can take what the enemy meant for evil and use it for your good and His glory? Then highlight Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to His purpose.”

Is it that God will be your vindicator, and you only need to be still? Then highlight Psalm 37:6: “He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.”

Reason #3: Unresolved truth

Even with all of these encouraging scriptures to help us lay down new bookmarks, we still have a problem. And that brings us to the biggest myth Christians are falling for today. If you continue to embrace this myth, you will fall right into the enemy’s trap and all of your hard work of resolving trauma and resolving trust will be washed away. And it blows my mind that so many Christians fall for this nonsense. 

It all comes down to the internet.

Simply Google, “How do you know you’ve forgiven someone?” and you’re met with a list of ungodly, unbiblical, and untrue statements.

– You know you’ve forgiven when you can think positive thoughts about them. 

– You know you’ve forgiven when you can be in their presence without getting upset.

– You know you’ve forgiven when you no longer have bad memories.

This is infuriating and misleading. And it’s what’s keeping Christians trapped.

When your hurt feelings don’t line up with your decision to forgive, you my friend have unresolved truth. 

Forgiveness isn’t a feeling, it’s an act. A conscious act of the will. It’s like going to the gym or going to work even when you don’t want to. 

The truth is, your triggers aren’t the problem. They’re only revealing the problem. As long as you don’t sin when you get triggered, use them to reveal what’s going on inside of you.

You may never feel warm and fuzzy about this person, but that doesn’t mean that you haven’t forgiven. 

This myth that just because you said those three magic words—“I forgive you”—means that all of the bad memories will go away is like assuming that saying “Beam me up, Scotty” will land you on the Starship Enterprise.

Having trouble creating new bookmarks? Be sure to grab your FREE Promises of God Guide.

Maybe you’ve forgiven but you’re not sure whether to stay in the relationship. Be sure to check out this episode for the 3 Signs God is Telling You It’s Time to Give Up on Someone.

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