The Other Side of Forgiveness

We celebrated yesterday. Jon-Mical has graduated from 2 allergy shots per week to just 1. Happy day! We went to the Donut Palace, our favorite classy joint, for chocolate covered donuts with sprinkles. Mimi, Jon-Mical, Jakson, and PoppyC. WooHoo!
At one point Jakson (2) turned to Jon-Mical (5) and said in a voice filled with admiration, “Jon-Mical, you are brave.” How sweet. It was a hallmark moment. And then as Jon-Mical looked up at us with pride in his eyes, Jakson reach over and grabbed Jon-Mical’s donut and stuffed it in his mouth!

I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately. Some people in my life I need to forgive. Some I need to RE-forgive. And the Lord knows there are a ton that need to forgive me. It seems sometimes forgiveness comes easy. There is almost immediate understanding, a move toward each other, a true desire for reconciliation, and forgiveness just happens.

At other times it is a struggle. Oh, I know I’m supposed to forgive. I know the Bible says to let it go. But forgiveness just doesn’t seem to want to come and the more I think about it the tougher it gets. At the end of this week I’ll talk about true forgiveness, what it is, how it happens. But for today there are three things that I believe I can do to make forgiveness easier for the other person. Jesus said, “If you remember that your brother has something against you go to him and be reconciled.” (Matthew 5:23-24) Apparently I not only have a responsibility to forgive but to initiate being forgiven.

So, what can I do to help my brother (or sister, or husband, or wife) forgive me? Here are three simple thoughts:

First, earnestly listen to his/her grievance. Most of the time I’m too busy formulating my defense to really hear what he or she has to say. Listen, just listen. Without interrupting, without correcting, without defending, make sure that you understand as best you can what he/she is feeling.

Second, be genuinely remorseful. If you really do want to reconcile, if the relationship is truly important to you then you are genuinely sorry for the pain the other person feels. You don’t have to agree. You don’t have to see it exactly their way. But you can be completely, honestly regretful that he/she was hurt.

Finally, seek to make amends. The 8th step of the 12 Steps says, “We sought to make amends…wherever possible.” Sometimes it is not possible. Sometimes to go back to the issue only opens up more wounds. But where I can, when I can, I seek to redress the injury and to do my part to remedy the hurt I caused.

Having said that, and done that, is there a guarantee that I will be forgiven? No. But I do have the serenity of knowing I made a sincere effort to give the other person a chance to forgive me. You will be a better person for it. And while we are on the subject, I forgive you…unless you swiped my chocolate covered, sprinkled donut.
Mike

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