Most of us are willing to extend forgiveness to a person who has offended us, especially if that person has come to us personally and accepted responsibility. It is not always as easy, though, when we are the ones in the wrong. Extending forgiveness can gracious; seeking forgiveness can be humbling.
No one likes to admit to committing an offense, but it is a necessary part of life. When you have wronged someone else, it is up to you to take responsibility for your actions, offer a sincere apology, and do your best to make up for it. The integrity of your life house, which I discuss in Women Under Construction, depends on it.

Why is it important to proactively seek forgiveness when you have hurt someone else? Here are four reasons:

1. Your words or actions have caused harm.

You are responsible for whatever you say or do. That responsibility cannot be passed off to anyone else. Therefore, when you have committed an offense, it is up to you to admit it and apologize for it. While you cannot control how the victim responds to your attempt at reconciliation, your sincere apology will create the best opportunity for the relationship to be restored.

2. The victim may be struggling to get beyond the offense.

Someone who is wounded can become tied to that moment in time. As a result, it may become impossible for that person to move forward in life until the offense is properly addressed. By going to the person you have offended and seeking forgiveness, you can enable him or her to extend forgiveness, experience freedom from the offense, and leave it in the past.

3. Broken relationships have a negative effect on you.

As it is with many people, committing an offense may result in you experiencing sleepless nights and increased levels of stress. You could become consumed with your feelings of guilt and your concerns about the relationship. You might even change your daily rituals in order to avoid uncomfortable encounters with the person you offended. In addition, you may become worried about what others are saying and thinking about you, forcing you to second-guess yourself and withdraw socially. Seeking forgiveness is the only way for you to truly put the offense behind you.

4. Your reputation can be damaged by the fallout.

After an offense is committed, it typically does not take long before gossip begins to spread. When this happens to you, it can cause irreparable harm to your reputation. To minimize the potential damage, seek forgiveness as soon as possible. It is worth it to swallow your pride in order to protect your reputation.

Have you committed an offense for which you have not yet sought forgiveness? Today is the day. Seek forgiveness for your own benefit as well as the benefit of the victim. “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Colossians 3:13, KJV)

3/21/2012 11:46:16 am

It's probably not a coincidence I'm reading this at a time I've been contemplating apologizing to someone. I guess this is a "nudge" telling me it's time to do it.

Thanks Tipfanie

3/24/2012 05:14:51 am

I think it's important to remember that while we should seek for forgiveness, they may not be ready to forgive right away (or ever). We should ask forgiveness and then get on with our lives.

3/24/2012 05:20:31 am

It takes a lot of humility to do that.


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