This blog is a continuation of our discussion on forgiveness. So far I’ve talked about forgiveness from the standpoint of letting others off the hook that have offended us but there’s a flip side of that coin – seeking the forgiveness of those whom we have offended. Does anyone come to mind you know you are at odds with? It’s awkward seeing that person because you know things aren’t right between you but neither of you has made a move to resolve the conflict. Perhaps you rationalize not apologizing or seeking forgiveness because they hurt you also. A few years ago, I facilitated a Celebrate Recovery support group for our church ministry. Personally, I had never gone through such a group so I decided to also participate in the curriculum, journaling and written exercises. The journaling was a very introspective process and it caused a lot of pain I wasn’t even aware of to come to the surface. One of the steps involved making a list of the people I had offended and making amends with those individuals. This turned out to be one of the most liberating things I had done although this exercise was certainly not without its challenges. It was very humbling to go to those individuals one by one, acknowledging what I did to offend them and asking for their forgiveness. Ironically, my previous spouse did not make the list initially, but my wife Lela (being the straight shooter that she is) called me on that. The more I thought about it, the more I started realizing ways that I had fallen short in my previous marriage, so I wrote my previous spouse a letter acknowledging my wrongs and asking for her forgiveness. I later found out that my letter had been well-received. You see, part of the process of putting yourself out there involves being prepared for those that may not yet be willing to receive that apology or extend forgiveness. I apologized to one family member in particular and it did not go nearly as well as I had hoped, initially that is. Boy did that hurt! Needless to say, I wrestled with this person’s response but I stuck true to my resolve to own up to my shortcomings regardless of how others might respond..or react. I’d have you know that we recently had a follow-up conversation where I apologized again (this time in more detail) and so did this other family member. It was a very heartfelt time of reconciliation and all of us were shedding tears of relief at one point.
Is there someone in your life you need to apologize to and seek forgiveness from? Life is too short to let pride keep us from doing everything we can to make things right with them. Acknowledge what you have done and sincerely apologize to them without any expectations that they do the same. There’s no guarantee that the situation will turn out as expected but wouldn’t you feel better knowing that you at least did everything you could to restore the relationship? Take care and I’ll see you at the next blog.