Camille (not her real name)
I was coming out of the grocery store and she was stepping out of her car. We locked eyes. I had said some very unflattering things about her to another person. I was tired of avoiding her whenever I ran into her. I decided on the spot to ask her for her forgiveness for all the horrible things I had said about her. I cried. She cried. We hugged each other. It felt stiff and awkward but I knew I did the right thing. I never saw her again, but it felt good knowing I was forgiven. She passed away from cancer a few years after that.
Andrew (not his real name)
He suggested we meet for coffee after a few years had passed since our fight. I was nervous but I was ready to confront our differences. As we saw each other from across the parking lot and I knew that the outcome was going to be good. We sat in the Starbucks for a few hours talking like long lost friends do. We both asked each other for forgiveness even though we couldn’t even remember what caused our friendship to go sideways. We are still great friends. I am grateful he reached out.
Amanda (not her real name)
Not too long ago I asked her for forgiveness and I think she kinda sorta said yes but I didn’t feel like I was forgiven. I tried to make ovations to meet for coffee but it wasn’t within reach. I really didn’t feel good about how the relationship ended and decided to be more clear in my expressions. I reached out again with the hopes to have that warm fuzzy feeling that comes when you know things are back on track. It didn’t work out that way. We need to be prepared that the outcome might not work out as hoped.
“A genuine apology cannot be an imposition that someone is obligated to forgive us, it must instead be a request that grants the person we seek forgiveness from, the right to be angry and the right to continue to be angry and also the right to refuse to forgive us.”
We have all done things or said things we regret. We all have hurt each other. I am a believer that it is important to be accountable for our actions. If you hurt someone, ask for their forgiveness. If you can, meet face to face. Asking for forgiveness is not easy but can be a burden lifted for you and for the person you hurt. Ask for forgiveness because you are sorry and remorseful. Acknowledge the wrong doing, it will convey that we care for them and respect them.
At the end of the day, it’s very important to forgive yourself. I am reminded of a story that was told to me by a very caring Father in the Catholic Church. He told me how people would come back time and time again to the confessional asking for forgiveness for the same “sin” over and over again because, even though God forgave them, they just couldn’t forgive themselves.