Forgiveness Part 3b   Leave a comment

As I begin this post, I start thinking about this very simple yet paradoxically complicated word. There are so many implications. This word affects us in all relationships areas of our lives:  with God, with friends, with significant others and within ourselves. Each of these is intertwined delicately with each of the others. All of us have needed to forgive and be forgiven at some point in our lives. I believe that being able to forgive and willing to seek forgiveness are attributes that must be developed and honed in order for any individual to truly live a fulfilling and successful life. We have covered two of these three entirely and one side of the other thus far. With that said here is Part 4 (or 3b), applying forgiveness in our relationships with others by accepting it when it is offered.Forgiveness in our Relationship With Others – Accepting

As noted I the previously, the concept of forgiveness in our relationships with others is a two-edged sword and as mentioned in our earlier discussion of forgiveness, is dependent and entangled with both of the others as well. As we have begun to discuss, forgiveness in our relationships with others entails two separate yet delicately intertwined actions:

  • Being willing and able to grant forgiveness to those whom have hurt, disappointed or otherwise offended us.(See Forgiveness 3a)
  • Being willing and able to receive forgiveness from others whom we have hurt, disappointed or otherwise offended.

Some of us struggle with one or the other of these two, but unfortunately, most of us struggle with both.  They are each necessary for us to be healthy and whole; but at the same time they are very difficult. Neither is more important or needed than the other.

So, let’s take a look at this final component of forgiveness – Being willing and able to receive forgiveness from others whom we have hurt, disappointed or otherwise offended.

Receiving forgiveness from others has two very distinct elements:

  •  Being able/willing to seek forgiveness when we are conscious of either intentionally or unintentionally offending another.
  •  Second, is accepting forgiveness when it is offered by another rather freely or sought after.

It takes a lot of courage to admit when we have made mistakes and to sincerely seek to make amends.  Many of us have said, “I’m sorry” so many times with no intent to actually change our behaviors, and continued in this pattern for so long that we have invalidated the great impact and power which those simple words could have in our relationships with others. Those closest to us have learned that when we say “I’m sorry”, our words are empty. Thus, our insincere apologies fall to the floor unreceived, because they have no faith in our actual willingness or attempt to change.  I am reminded of a quote I believe that most if not all of us are familiar.

“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”   Mark Twain

Yes we need to seek forgiveness with our words and confess them before God and man, more importantly is that we are sincere and follow up our words with corresponding and appropriate actions.  Consider the following scripture reference:

“Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation.” Proverbs 14:9 

Another translation uses the word “wise” in place of “godly”.  Thus seeking reconciliation and forgiveness can be considered not only the “right” thing to do, but also the “smart” one.

Admitting our guilt and mistakes to ourselves is part one, then we take the next step and acknowledge them to the ones that we have wronged.  I will let them speak for themselves, but take a look at the “heart” of the 12 steps of AA:

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact   nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make          amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

What do we see… FORGIVENESS and reconciliation in our relationships with                     God and man.

In conclusion, one final Biblical reference:

 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may   be healed.”  James 5:16

Confess… I will restrain myself, but could go on and on just looking at that one word.

Confess your faults… pray for one another… so that you may be healed.  In this one verse we the summary of forgiveness as it relates to our relationships with others.

  • Confess your faults:  Seek forgiveness when needed
  • Pray for one another: Grant or Receive forgiveness as needed.
  •  So that you may be healed: Reconcile and let go of the hurts of the present and past and let time do its healing work.

So much of our ongoing suffering is easily resolved when we stop looking back and “reliving” our past hurts and disappointments, whether they are our own doing or someone else’s.

Finding a way to practice forgiveness is not an optional component of our recovery, it MUST be a skill that we develop and use on a daily basis. We must face each day and situation granting, seeking and receiving forgiveness, because if we do not do so we will not truly live. We will survive from day to day the slave of our anger and unable to experience life and love to its fullest. Finally my friends I remind you one last time:

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