The Other Side of Forgiveness
You’ve really blown it this time, how will you apologize?, by Sharon Norris Elliott
Forgive your enemies. Bless those who despitefully use you. Turn the other cheek. Yeah, yeah, right. All that Biblical instruction sounds wonderful until a friend actually offends you. Then, most of us are ready to turn our hand into a fist and aim for a cheek. However, this article isn’t about our need to forgive our offensive, thoughtless friend. Let’s talk about the other side of forgiveness. What do you do when you are the offensive, thoughtless friend?
Yes, I mean you. I’m no math whiz. But simple logic and statistics would bear out the fact that for every person who needs to forgive, there’s a person who needs to be forgiven. What are we supposed to do when we are on the need-to-be-forgiven side of the ledger?
Twice that I remember vividly, I really hurt good friends. Both times were unintentional, but that fact didn’t erase what I did nor make my friends’ pain any less acute. The first time was back in 1985. My friend Linda had her own dress made and flew 3,000 miles at her own expense to be in my wedding. Two years later when she was getting married, I couldn’t attend because I was nearing the end my first pregnancy. Once Matthew was born, I was completely engulfed with his care and totally neglected the embroidery project I had planned to craft for Linda as a wedding present. Several months after her wedding, she called and balled me out about how insensitive I had been by not at least sending a gift after she had invested so much for me.
The second indiscretion involved a description of a friend’s personal situation in one of my published works. I didn’t get permission because I changed the name in the story. Still, she recognized the incident and felt embarrassed, angry, and hurt. Worst of all, she believed others who knew bits and pieces would take my words as factual and never seek to know the real truth.
In both of my cases, there was nothing more I could do except say, “I’m sorry.” I couldn’t rewind the clock, make the pillow, and have it show up within a reasonable time after the wedding. I couldn’t un-publish the piece. A retraction would make matters worse by revealing identifiable facts I had left out of the first story. I couldn’t fix it. For my Type “A”, quick-tempered personality, making a mistake is bad enough. But dealing with an unfixable one was simply unthinkable. There had to be a solution.
So, what can you do when you’ve really blown it royally?
SOURCE: In Touch Ministries
Sharon Norris Elliott