Have you ever had a broken relationship that just wouldn’t heal? Maybe it was a father or a parent who hurt you? Or didn’t pay attention to you growing up? Or maybe it was a conflict in a marriage relationship? Or with children or coworkers? And then it never got resolved and over time, feelings started to harden?
The tenth step in dealing with conflict is one of the toughest, and yet one of the most important. It’s called Seek and Grant Forgiveness. That’s a hard thing to do, but it’s critical. There are two parts to this.
Part One —- If you’ve offended someone, seek forgiveness. And by that I mean, go to that person and apologize. And here’s how I would do it —
Go to the person, be very specific, and say these four things:
- I was wrong to have done this and I’m sorry.
- I’m sorry I caused you to feel embarrassment, hurt, shame, (whatever it might be).
- I’m going to work hard not to do it again. (Don’t say you’ll never do it again, because you might!) But, I’m going to work hard so please help me. Let me know if I get close to doing anything like this again. (And finally …)
- Will you forgive me?
And then be quiet and let the person forgive you.
You say, what if they don’t forgive me? If they don’t forgive you, that’s their issue, it’s not your issue! You do your part. I’m a big believer that we focus on the roots, doing the RIGHT things for the RIGHT reasons. And we let the fruit take care of itself. If you’re a person of faith, you let God take care of it. Because you believe God will bless you for being obedient to following the truth.
So if you’ve offended someone, ask for forgiveness. That’s hard to do. It’s embarrassing to do. But the more you do it and follow those four steps, the less number of times you’re going to offend people. And you’re going to be well down the road toward building back the right kind of relationship. So seek forgiveness.
Part Two —- But also grant forgiveness. That’s as important, if not even more important. Because when we don’t forgive we become embittered. And someone has said bitterness is like taking poison and hoping it will kill the other person. But it doesn’t kill the other person. It kills you! It eats away at you.
I believe we need to forgive unconditionally. People say, what do you mean by that? I mean you need to forgive instantaneously and unconditionally. Forgiveness isn’t the same as trust. If someone’s violated your trust they may have to re-earn it. But you can forgive them, because forgiveness is about what’s going on inside of you.
Why should you forgive?
- It’s the best thing for you. As I just said, bitterness is like taking poison and hoping it will kill the other person. It’s eating away at you. It’s killing you. You want to let go of that. You don’t want to be a slave to a harmful thing someone else has done in your life. So, let it go.
- It’s the only way to restore relationships. If there’s bitterness there, you’ll never be able to resolve conflict, or be able to come together at a heart level or even at a meaningful level. So it’s the only way for relationships to start moving forward.
- Because you’ve been forgiven. Think of all the things you’ve done to mess up like I’ve done. I’ve made so many mistakes, done so many things wrong over the years. I’ve offended people. I’ve made poor decisions. I’ve hurt others, and I know that others have forgiven me. I’ve certainly offended God, and because I’m a person of faith with a personal relationship with God, I believe God’s forgiven me. I hope that’s true for you.
The bottom line is — when you forgive, you liberate people. You ought to forgive simply out of humility and appreciation for the fact that so many others have forgiven you so many times for so many screw-ups.
If we would remember that, we would have a lot more grace, kindness, and generosity in our spirits toward people. So, remember to forgive — to grant forgiveness and also to seek forgiveness. That’s step number 10.
And please share your comments, questions and insights below. Finally, if this is helpful for you, please pass it on to your friends and family via email or social media.