What Do I Do When Someone Keeps Bringing Up My Sins?

Morning friend,

Have you been practicing gratitude this week? I hope so. It’s a game-changer when you faithfully practice it. Studies show that we all have limited attention. Watch this video to see an example of what you can miss and not even know it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGQmdoK_ZfY 

We don’t see everything, even when it’s obvious or right in front of our eyes. Therefore, we must learn to pay attention to what is true, good, right, and pure, beautiful, and admirable lest we miss it in the midst of hard, awful, toxic, ugly, deceitful, abusive, and cruel. (See Philippians 4:8,9.)

If you want to learn how to change your mindset to change your life story, please make sure to sign up for my free workshop on December 7th by clicking here: https://leslievernick.com/joinworkshop

Today’s Question: What if the person you sinned against continues to bring up your sins against you even though you’ve apologized, tried to make amends, and done all you know to do?

Answer: Thank you for this question because sometimes we’re taught that repentance and making amends fixes every broken relationship. But your experience shows otherwise. You say you’ve done that, and yet, the other person won’t let it go. He or she continues to bring your sins up to you.

Without knowing any more details, my first thought is that what you think you’ve done to demonstrate repentance and make amends isn’t helping the other person get past the hurt and broken trust over what you’ve done.

May I ask you a few questions? Have these sins been a pattern in your relationship with this person? Have you repented before and still continued to sin in this same way? If so, this person may have good reason not to feel safe with you or trust you. This person is bringing these sins up again because he or she may be afraid. Their experience with you is that your amends are short-lived and you will repeat your offense.

What steps have you taken to make sure that this doesn’t happen again? Are you in personal counseling? Do you have accountability? Have you set up good personal and interpersonal boundaries against temptation? 

Second, have you taken responsibility for the pain you’ve caused this person? Sometimes we believe that if we say we’re sorry and truly mean it, the other person should be over it. He or she shouldn’t want to talk about it or want to make us feel bad or ashamed. But perhaps this person bringing it up, again and again, is a way of saying, “I’m not over it yet. I need to process the pain I’m in, the pain you caused me. I need you to understand the impact your sin has had on me and our relationship.” 

[Tweet “Yes, that makes you feel bad (guilt and shame) but feeling bad is appropriate when you’ve caused another person great pain.”] Having compassion and empathy for the pain you’ve caused someone helps you not do it again.

You say you’ve done all you know to do, but have you asked this person what could you do that would help him or her feel safe again? Or trust you again? Maybe asking would help you see that there is much more you could do to make amends and show the fruit of repentance.

But there is also another side to this. Let’s assume you have done all that, but the person whose forgiveness you are seeking is unwilling to forgive. He or she is unwilling to let it go and wants to punish you over and over again for the pain you caused. Now what? 

I’d encourage you to have an honest conversation with this person and ask, “I’ve done all I can to show you my sorrow over my own sin and the pain I’ve caused you. I don’t know what else to do to make this right. Why do you keep bringing it up?”

Stop, and let him or her reflect on what they’re getting from repeatedly ripping the bandage off the relationship wound. This is their work to do, and sadly some will not do it. They gain satisfaction and self-righteousness blaming you and being the victim.

The truth is, it takes two to heal a broken relationship and perhaps you have done all you can do, but the other person is unable or unwilling to let it go. What does that mean for you? Well, you can give it time and prayer, hoping that the other person will do his or her own work. You can have boundaries about how much you are willing to discuss it anymore. You ask curious questions like why are they struggling to let it go. [Tweet “But at the end of the day, if the other person is unable or unwilling to forgive you, or unable or unwilling to rebuild trust, then you have some hard choices to make about the viability of the relationship.”]

Friend, when someone has hurt you or betrayed your trust, what happened to the relationship? If it was repaired, what was done to repair that broken trust and safety?

9 Comments

  1. M on December 4, 2021 at 9:25 am

    I have read all of the blogs. I’ve been reading and listening to Leslie’s Podcasts. I’ve read every book on abuse. I’m looking for an abusers support group but am failing to find one. I’ve gone through an online Ananias group and an mmm going to do another starting next week. I am looking for help in Omaha Nebraska. I am desperate and broken and want to change and be a better man or husband. Please provide resources. There’s a gap in helping the men who are seeking help.

    • Leslie Vernick on December 5, 2021 at 9:26 pm

      You are right, there is a huge gap for real help for men who recognize they are being abusive and controlling. I’d encourage you to connect with Chris Moles and his ministry to men called Men of Peace. Look at CHrismoles.org

      • Free on December 7, 2021 at 6:16 pm

        Yes, abuse is a men’s issue, not a women’s issue. Why do we women take the blame?

        Also look into “First Man” at Restored Ministries in the UK. The have a bible study for non-abusive men who want to put an end to enabling abuse in the church. Men mentoring men, how necessary and powerful. Way to go UK men!!

    • Moon Beam on December 7, 2021 at 6:10 pm

      I know some early homework you can do. Create a timeline and identify and confess from your earliest memories and and every time you manipulated another person.

      Another assignment is to research entitlement and empathy. Recovery programs often teach you hope to be empathetic as abusers are often incapable of that kind of insight. It has to be learned, as you did not develop it in childhood. Learning to be empathetic takes many, many session and will takes years to learn. If you really want to change, this is a long process. Usually you can estimate on year of counseling for every three years you lived as an entitled manipulator.

      • Moon Beam on December 7, 2021 at 6:12 pm

        My goodness so many typos. Sorry. Big fingers typing on a tiny phone screen!

        • Roger rabbit on January 5, 2022 at 1:05 am

          Wow well it’s takes two and outside interference don’t help either. Especially when people portrayed to be family and friends who are a good cause of the break in relationship in the first place. U both need to look at yourself and stop doing what hurt one another . We all have a shadow side .

  2. Liza on January 9, 2022 at 3:37 am

    I truly appreciate this post. My husband had an affair and while I in no way condone his adultery, I have come to understand through prayer and a new relationship with God that I have also sinned. As we communicate about our relationship, my husband always brings up events from the past. This article has given me a way to talk to him about why he keeps doing that. Thank you so much.

  3. SanC on March 15, 2023 at 11:04 am

    Thank you so much for addressing this issue. There was infidelity during my marriage many many years ago on my part. Divorce was the final outcome. I have asked for forgiveness and humbly repented over and over. I have talked to my previous spouse and humbly asked his forgiveness. I have discussed why and how this had happened. I take total responsibility for the choices that I had made many years ago. It’s been 23 years. We are all still together for holidays and family functions and all seems ok, but the bandage gets ripped off from time to time. I know that when God’s forgives us that our sins are thrown into the sea of forgetfulness. What can I do to help this situation further. I just don’t know what else to do or say. We get along great, but like I said my way past sin becomes exposed once again.
    Thank you!

    • Kate on October 26, 2023 at 8:05 pm

      I just read your comment. Any feelings of shame or self-hatred related to a past sin are not from God- they are from the enemy. If you have confessed your sin to God and asked your former spouse for forgiveness and tried to make amends, you have done your part. If someone remains trapped in unforgiveness, they are choosing to remain in a prison of their choosing. I have experienced the same with my former spouse. Ultimately, we are commanded to forgive by God- it’s in the Our Father prayer. Jesus has forgiven and forgotten your past sin. You are a new creation in Him. Never forget this!! Our past sins do not define us. You are God’s beloved daughter.

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