By Dr. Mike Brooks
Unforgiveness runs rampant in divorces. I counsel people who want to forgive an unfaithful spouse but want to know if they have to be friends with them or reconcile. Forgiveness doesn’t guarantee reconciliation. Many times it’s not possible to fix a broken relationship for various reasons. It might be that the person has passed away or is unable to communicate (dementia, in jail, etc.) Or they have no interest in doing so. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have to reconcile with them. Remember, forgiving someone is for you so you can let go and move on with your life. You may forgive someone and their behavior may not change or they don’t care. Remember, letting go of unforgiveness allows you to have peace, joy, happiness and stability back into your life. You will no longer allow the other person to control certain parts of your emotions and hurt you any longer.
In the last three weeks we have covered what you need to do with your unforgiveness. Now let’s talk to those who need to go and ask for forgiveness. This is a hard place to be for many. It can cut into our pride and you either really want to make amends and get things right or live with the guilt and not do anything. I suggest that you go to the person you have wronged and acknowledge you have wronged them. When you do, be sincere and show humility and sorrow for your actions and how you have harmed them. If you know the wrongs you have done them, then address those and ask that person to forgive you. Make no excuses, own up to your wrongs. There may be times when someone will not forgive you. Give them time to think about it. I know it’s hard and embarrassing at times to say “I’m sorry”, but the peace and relief that it will bring will amaze you. This is an area in our lives that we need to take care of business and repair relationships. Life is too short to carry grudges and hate each other.
In closing, I see many relationships restored because one person is willing to let bygones be bygones. They have a heart for making things right. It can be a daunting task and one that requires a heart for people. Forgiveness is just not a one-time effort. It’s a lifestyle. We all have been wronged and will be as long as we are in relationships with each other. Let’s face it, this journey we are on will have bumps in the road. People will disappoint us and let us down. I face that fact all the time as do you. Do I focus on what people have done to me? Absolutely not! Do I dwell on people who fail me again? No! If someone continues to hurt me then I have to decide if I am going to allow them to continue to use my emotions. That, my friend, is the path we must decide when we are in relationships, whether it be family, friends, acquaintances, or co-workers. The art of forgiveness is up to you.
“Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person’s throat.” Forgiveness does not create a relationship. Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their mind and behavior, a relationship of trust is not possible. When you forgive someone you certainly release them from judgment, but without true change, no real relationship can be established. Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive. But should they finally confess and repent, you will discover a miracle in your own heart that allows you to reach out and begin to build between you a bridge of reconciliation. Forgiveness does not excuse anything. You may have to declare your forgiveness a hundred times the first day and the second day, but the third day will be less and each day after, until one day you will realize that you have forgiven completely. And then one day you will pray for his wholeness.” – Wm. Paul Young,
“To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” – G.K. Chesterton
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Lewis B. Smedes
Are you harboring unforgiveness and want to get rid of the heaviness it causes you? Do you have someone you need to forgive and just can’t let it go? Do you need to seek forgiveness and need to know how and when? Do you want to mend a relationship with a friend or family member and have hard feelings that you’ve been carrying for some time? If you answered yes to any of these questions, give me a call.
Applicable Life Coaching & Counseling Services
Dr. Michael Brooks is the founder of Applicable Life Coaching and Counseling Services. His services are affordable, accessible, anonymous and available by appointment from the privacy of your own home. To avoid travel time and from the comfort of home, many clients prefer to meet with Dr. Mike over the phone or via Skype. The convenience of this type of coaching is the most effective means of Life Coaching and counseling for those who live out of the Denver-metro area. Give Dr. Mike a call! You’ll be glad you did!