How apology & forgiveness can right the wrong
When someone has wronged us it doesn’t matter how severe the wrong, we want vindication. It is a natural human emotion to want revenge or better yet, retribution.
But, as the old addage goes
An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind…
The religious faithful of many denominations speak of forgiveness as the one true healing power that can mend any wound.
But, how do we forgive those who have wronged us?
How can we ever trust them again? And even if we could…Should we?
It is sometimes not enough simply to say we are sorry. There are lines that once crossed can not be uncrossed.
There are breaches of faith that can not merely be sewn back together with a few choice words.
Indeed, there are actions that cannot afford the luxury of blind faith in forgiveness.
Yet, in all manner of actions, apology and forgiveness begin the healing process for all parties involved.
Apology is first admitting our fault
To ask forgiveness we must first accept that we were wrong.
In order to be forgiven, we must ask for forgiveness. Not because we feel bad, but because we realize the pain caused by our actions and because we care enough to want to make right our misdeeds.
Apology is not a mere confession of transgression, it is an preemptory offering to what we do after that makes that expression of remorse take form.
It takes cajones to admit our mistakes. It takes greater moxy still to confess our wrongdoing to the one’s we have wronged.
However, if we are sincere in our communication of those ill-mannered actions, perhaps those words can create a dialogue to bridge the divide we have caused.
Yet, just because we own our fault and offer a true and heartfelt sentiment of regret and remorse, it does not cut loose the noose of responsibility for our actions.
We must account for our actions and offer a testament of intention to ensure that those lines will not be crossed again.
3 parts to every apology
- Admittance and Ownership: When we wrong someone and wish to apologize, the first step is to own our mistake. We have to completely and totally take ownership of our wrong. This DOES NOT INCLUDE any form of rationalization or diminishing of fault nor does it allow for blame-shifting. We must own our misdeed in entirety.
- Acknowledgement of Others: Once we have owned and admitted our fault, we must acknowledge that the other party/parties are entitled to feel the way they do (i.e.- hurt, angry, disappointed, etc…) Again, we must avoid the typical habits of diminishing the feelings of those we have wronged.
- Statement of Future Intent: Lastly in an apology, we need to provide a plan to avoid a repeat of the same infraction in the future. In other words, how do we intend to not only avoid doing it again, but ways we can even improve upon communicating or dealing with said issues in the future. Better yet- how we will avoid a repeat altogether!
If we can do these three things with sincerity and clarity, then perhaps there is a chance for a “mending of fences”, so to speak.
However, successfully completing this 3-part apology is NOT a guarantee of its acceptance. Depending on the severity or recurrence of our misstep(s), there may in fact be no words sufficient to heal the hurt we have caused.
The best we can do is to approach with heartfelt sincerity in our apology and pray for mercy.
Forgiveness is a blessing to be treated as such
Whether someone chooses to offer us forgiveness or not is up to them. If we have conveyed our sincerity and remorse properly, perhaps we can forge a bridge of healing grace over the divide we have caused.
If we are forgiven, then it is our duty to uphold our word and not break our vow. For each time we do, our apology holds significantly less weight than before. So speak true to your intent and follow through. Treat the forgiveness offered to you as the gift it truly is.
If those we have wronged cannot find it in their heart of hearts to forgive us, we can only offer our heart and best wishes for grace of healing in the near future and respect their decision.
If we are truly lucky, we might be forgiven in time. But in reality, there are no guarantees and the best practice would be to adhere the golden rule and do well to not hurt or wrong others in the first place (DUH!)
We are all fallible and we all fall from grace at times
I am no saint. I too have made many mistakes in life. Some might say more than most.
Without going into too much detail, I’ve recently hurt someone who means the world to me. What’s worse, it is the second time I’ve hurt them.
In a moment of carelessness, I hurt them and in an instant destroyed everything that was once so pure and wonderful. I am filled with remorse and I am sick with guilt.
The hurt that I have caused them is shameful to me. I have apologized, but despite my remorse, it is unclear whether or not they can find it to forgive.
I pray for it to be so, as I would give anything to remove the hurt I’ve caused. Only time will tell.
Moral of the story
To your heart be true, but also be kind and true to those in which you love. If I might offer a few points of wisdom in retrospect:
- Speak kind and true
- Love strong and faithfully
- Build together towards the future
- Love those who love you with all you’ve got
I wish you all well and close with this:
If you’ve hurt someone, offer up your sincere forgiveness. If you are the hurt, try your best to forgive if it is safe to do so.