Tag Archives: reconciliation

How to Be Forgiven – part one: admit

How to BE Forgiven

How to BE Forgiven

I’ve been talking for a few weeks about how to forgive. Now I want to talk about how to be forgiven. How do you go to someone you have offended and set things right?

But before I give you the first step I have to confess my title is wrong. You shouldn’t have to do anything to be forgiven. Forgiveness is free. You can’t earn it…at least you shouldn’t have to.

So my title is incorrect but I hope you understand what I mean. What are some things you can do to restore a relationship that you broke? What are some things you can do that will help others to forgive you?

How to Be Forgiven

The first step is to admit your offense. This is a lot harder than it sounds. If I’ve offended you, quite frankly, I don’t want to admit anything. Admitting my failure makes me feel bad. It makes me feel stupid. It makes me feel weak. So I’m not very motivated to admit.

But at the same time I know that I can’t ignore what’s obvious to the world. So my brain automatically comes up with a number of solutions to solve this tension. It gives me a way to “admit” without really exposing any wrongdoing on my part.

  • Minimize what I’ve done wrong. I make it sound like it isn’t really as bad as you think it is. It’s really no big deal.
  • Blame others. I spread the blame far and wide to divert your attention away from my failure.
  • Rationalize my offense. I come up with great excuses for what I did. I mean, if you only knew my circumstances, you would do the same!

Wanted: Full Disclosure

The problem with these tactics is that it will just make you madder. You aren’t looking for excuses. You are looking for honesty. You want full disclosure. You want to see that I’m in touch with reality and that I have both the humility and the courage to admit what I’ve done wrong. So the more I diminish what I’ve done the madder you get.

The interesting thing is that what you want is the opposite of what I feel is good for me. I FEEL like the more I admit the less you’ll like me and the less of a possibility of us getting back together. That’s why I work so hard at a cover up.

But the truth is…the more I admit the greater chance we have at reconciliation. Most people can handle the truth if it’s all the truth. What they can’t handle is deception because that soils the relationship. It creates distrust and suspicion which only undermine a relationship.

There’s something cleansing about the truth being told; for the teller and hearer.  When you tell the truth it often creates trust and trust is the foundation for reconciliation. Yes, the truth might destroy the relationship but so will withholding truth. Withholding truth might keep you in a relationship but it will be based on a lie. It will be superficial. And if the truth ever comes out (which it usually does) then your friend will lose even more respect for you.

Question: What are things you do to minimize admitting your offense?

If you found this helpful please forward it on Facebook below and subscribe to this blog.

Come back for part two of How to BE Forgiven.

Related posts:

  • How to forgive: Forgiveness is a Choice (readingremy.com)
  • Defining Forgiveness: Five Things Forgiveness is Not (readingremy.com)

How to Forgive: Remember There is a Nazi in You

How to Forgive: Remember There is a Nazi in You

How to Forgive: There is a Nazi in you.

This continues my series on How  to Forgive. Be sure to read the earlier posts by clicking on the links.

So far we’ve seen that to forgive it involves making a heroic choice. It also involces setting boundaries to give yourself emotional space.

The third thing you can do to forgive is reframe the offense. This means you look at it from a new perspective. There are a few ways to do this. Let me give you two; one today and  one on Wednesday.

How to Forgive: Remember There is a Nazi in You

The first way you can reframe your offense is to realize that you are capable of doing any evil that’s been done to you. The word for this is humility.

For example, I read a story of two women who were in a Nazi concentration camp. They were walking through the compound and a guard stopped them and started to berate and beat one of the women. The other woman was disgusted with this guard. In her mind she was calling him all kinds of names and wishing terrible things to happen to him.

But as she thought these things a voice in her head said, Remember, there’s also a Nazi in you. Her thoughts were stopped cold. She immediately knew what that meant. It meant that given the same situation as the Nazi, she could have very well turned out like he did.

Your first reaction might be to push back on this thought…to reject it and say, “I would NEVER do that!” But we all have the potential to do horrible things. Thankfully the conditions aren’t right that brings it about.  When you are able to understand this about yourself you will find a new ability to forgive.

Pride Blinds You to the Nazi Within You

The Bible gives an example of the opposite of this attitude with the apostle Peter. In the book of Mark, Jesus had just predicted that his disciples would all betray him and Peter proudly said…Even if all fall away, I will not.  Mark 14:29

Peter was convinced that he was incapable of betrayal. That was for lesser people. He was above that.  He wasn’t in touch with his own inner weakness. He didn’t realize that a Nazi lived inside of him.  But if you read the story Peter not only denied Jesus. He denied Jesus three times.

Humility means that you understand what it is like to be desperately in need of forgiveness and therefore you are willing to offer forgiveness to others. One book says it like this…

Comprehending that you are capable of the same ugliness that you are condemning in another can penetrate a cloud of hatefulness.  To Forgive is Human

If you want to break through your cloud of hatefulness and forgive someone then reframe your offender through the eyes of humility.

Please forward this on Facebook to help others learn how to forgive and move on with their life.

Question: How have you been able to reframe an offense? Leave your comment below.

Adapted from “Forgiven…once and for all”. Subscribe to this blog to receive your free e-book.


The Anger Behind the Anger

The Anger Behind the Anger

The Anger Behind the Anger

The following post is adapted from my new book  STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships.  

Anger comes from loss. Whenever someone hurts you there is a primary loss and a secondary loss. Let me give you an example from my life.

When I lived on our farm we lived in a mobile home. We moved the mobile home to the farm thinking it would only be a year until we built a house. But that never happened because we couldn’t afford it. The farm didn’t generate as much money as we had hoped (surprise, surprise!). So I was feeling very stuck in our situation: very angry to be honest.  I had a growing family in a 2 bedroom trailer.

I came home one night from milking the cows and I was tired. When I got home my kids had left a bunch of toys out in the yard so when I got inside I told them to get out there and pick up after themselves. The next night I came home and it was the same thing…toys all over the yard. So I walk in the house and the kids are watching TV and I’m like…what don’t you understand about picking up after yourself? I told you last night to put things away. Get out there and do it again.

The Anger Behind the Anger

I really don’t remember saying that much but I do remember being really mad. So I thought about where my anger came from. You see the primary loss was a messy yard. I wanted things picked up. But as I thought about it…there had to be more …something deeper…to make me so mad. And there was. I realized there were a couple of secondary losses.  I wasn’t just mad at my kids. I was mad at myself. I was mad that I was still living in a mobile home.

Feeling Like “Trailer Trash”

Now, I don’t mean any disrespect to those of you who live in a mobile home. But I grew up in the suburbs of the Twin Cities and the only mobile home park I knew about was full of run down trailers with toys all around the yard. And something deep inside of me was embarrassed to think that this was the best I could do. I felt like a loser. I realized I wasn’t mad at my kids as much as I was mad at myself for being a failure. I felt like, what people called, “Trailer Trash”.

The other loss I felt that day was respect. When my kids didn’t learn from my first scolding it made me feel like they didn’t listen because they didn’t respect my authority. Now, in reality, that’s not true. They were just being kids. But my shame was working against me and causing me to feel disconnected. And then at an even deeper level I probably feared that they didn’t listen to me because I was working too much so I felt like a failure as a father.

A Defining Moment

These thoughts were a major revelation to me. They caused a significant change in all my relationships and how I dealt with my anger. I realized that only about 20% of my anger had to do with my kids not putting their toys away. The other 80% had to do with my feeling trapped in poverty and disrespected and being absent as a father. Do you see that? So the primary loss was the messy yard. The secondary losses were respect and the sense of feeling trapped in poverty and being a poor father.

Unfortunately we often never think about the secondary losses and dealing with our issues. We just keep yelling louder at the kids or whomever we are mad at until they finally do what we want or walk away from us.

Take a minute and think about someone who has offended you recently. What did they do that made you mad? Now go deeper. What are the secondary losses that hurt so much?  Before you spend any more time obsessing about how you were hurt pray about the deeper issues…the 80% that I talked about above.

Question: What are secondary losses that often make you angry? Leave your comment below.

related post:

Four Keys to Restoring Broken Relationships (readingremy.com)


Four Keys to Restoring a Broken Relationship

Restoring a Broken Relationship

How do you restore a broken  relationship? Many of us have a relationship that has died. You didn’t plan it. You don’t like it. You wish things were different. It just is.

This broken relationship haunts you like the garden you planted with so much hope but now lies dormant with stunted plants and choked by weeds. It started with so much hope but is now an embarrassment. The best remedy you have is to ignore it…avoid walking by it so you won’t feel so bad.  But deep down you know there  is more you could have done…maybe even more you can do right now. You just don’t know what and you are not so sure  it’s even worth your time if you did.

How to Restore a Broken Relationship

Thankfully God gives us a perfect model for how to restore a broken relationship. Maybe you’ve never thought about it this way but Jesus didn’t rise from the dead so we could live forever. Jesus rose from the dead so God could be in relationship with us forever. The resurrection was the last step in God providing a solution to the broken relationship that existed between God and humanity.

Here are four keys to restoring a broken relationship that God  modeled for us;

  1. Great Love – You can’t seek to restore a broken relationship half heartily any more than you can restore a garden half heartily. You have to be “all-in” from the start if you want to have a chance. The Bible tells us that God “SO LOVED” the world that he sent his Son. (John 3:16). God’s love was the driving force to restoration. You need that as well.
  2. Deliberate Action – Love isn’t passive. It acts. Love isn’t an emotion. It’s something you do. God DEMONSTRATED his love for us by moving toward us, not away from us (Romans 5:8). Many people hope for the best but never do anything to make the best happen. You need a plan of action.
  3. Servant Humility – I don’t like humbling myself when I’m wrong. And I don’t think I should have to humble myself when I’m right. The person in the wrong needs to take action, not me. Thankfully God didn’t have that attitude. The Bible tells us that Jesus emptied himself of his right to being God (Philippians 2:5-8), humbled himself like a servant, and willingly died to put things right between us. If you really want to repair a relationship you’ll need to lay down your pride and your rights. You’ve got to do whatever it takes.
  4. Amazing Power – One of the main reasons people don’t restore a broken relationship is because it’s dead. There is no life. There is no hope.  There is nothing in them that motivates them to move toward the other. That’s why we need God. In fact, we need him for all four of these keys; great love, deliberate action, servant humility and now power. He’s got what  we need. Reconciliation is a divine act. So don’t give up on a broken relationship just because it’s dead. Give God a chance to breathe his resurrection life into it. You might be amazed at what rises from the dead.
Stuck broken relationships

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Question: What are the biggest issues that keep you from restoring a broken relationship? Have you ever seen  God resurrect a relationship for you? I’d love to hear back.

To learn more about broken relationship check out my new book, STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships.

 Download the message (audio/text) Restoring Broken Relationships here.