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?
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Come back for part two of How to BE Forgiven.
- How to forgive: Forgiveness is a Choice (readingremy.com)
- Defining Forgiveness: Five Things Forgiveness is Not (readingremy.com)