A customer just verbally crushed you in a voicemail for something that wasn't your fault. Your friend talks poorly about you behind your back. And then some jerk cuts you off in traffic so you have to swerve dangerously to avoid an accident! We all feel the super bummer moment as we read those examples, right?
In my perfect (perhaps oxygen deprived) world, any insult or offense would be followed by that heartfelt and honest apology that was done totally out of love. Unfortunately, you don't need me to tell you that more often then not doesn't happen. In reality, most interpersonal 'drama' is left in the void of awkwardness, and that can leave you hanging on to a lot of resentment and frustration personally.
Well, that is easy... God told us too. If you don't believe in God then lets talk about that topic and get back to the question above. Forgiveness is often seen as primarily benefiting the one forgiven, and although that may be true, there is a host of benefits to the one who offers forgiveness. The Bible, Science and personal observation tell us that forgiving can be one of the best things for us. Even the secular world is correlating forgiveness to be a healing reality that is able to be statistically proven. In an article done by the Psychology Today, Dr. Art Markman shares his analysis that forgiveness benefits the forgiver, not just the forgiven person. Wow!
As believers in Christ Jesus we see examples throughout the Bible of how forgiveness frees the soul/spirit of the forgiver.
I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
I John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
So we know God is not only FOR forgiveness, He IS forgiveness.
Mind Blow#1: The Solution is Easy: The Gospel
This is so simple but yet when you dig in it is quite profound. As we respond to conflict through the lens of the Gospel we are able to process forgiveness differently. As Ken Sande put it in his book 'The Peace Maker,' "When we believe this and put our trust in Jesus, God forgives all our sins. Through the gospel he also enables us to learn how to resist temptation, obey his commands, and live a life that honors him." As we accept and benefit from the way the gospel lovingly shows us our sin, we are inspired to gently correct and restore others. The gospel has created an amazing playbook/framework for peacemaking.
Mind Blow #2: Your Confession Leads to Forgiveness
And no, it doesn't matter that the fault was on someone else! God gives you an awareness to see how you are holding on to unforgiveness in your own heart, He at the same time offers you a away to find freedom from those resentments. It is called confession. One tough but great way to get freedom is through the seven A's. Now, I could spend a whole blog just on these 7 steps but this is a great place to introduce the topic. No, not every confession situation will need 7 steps but these are a great guide to follow. Don't forget... Don't allow these to be just a practice or a checklist.
1. Address Everyone Involved
2. Avoid the words If, But, and Maybe
3. Admit Specifically & be Detailed
4. Acknowledge the Hurt
5. Accept the Consequences
6. Alter Your Behavior
7. Ask For Forgiveness & Allow Time
Mind Blow #3: You Don't Need An Apology
If you can have a heartfelt conversation with whomever you feel did you wrong, then get over your uncomfortableness or awkwardness and "Just Do It." I know, I know... This is rare and so uncomfortable sometimes it just might not happen. And you are likely to find that the apology isn’t that satisfying anyway.
Forgiveness is and can be you internally letting go. In the state of not forgiving, you’re replaying the hurtful story with your attention so it stays in a state of realness for you. When you begin praying for forgive and internally start the 7 A's above, you stop thinking about the situation.
And this is what you can do in your own quiet moments.
The Bible says that we were made in God’s image. Even in the brokenness of the world, God’s purpose is to realize us into what we were made to be. Our #1 & best example is Jesus and when we look at Him, what do we see? We see THE Forgiver. It’s not just part of his character, it is the entire reason he came to Earth, and it’s what he has been doing ever since.
God bless, thanks for reading and I leave you with this final verse from Ephesians.