After a play date a few years back, a mother said to me “I wanted to tell you how much I appreciated your son's response to my child saying 'I'm sorry'.” He said “I forgive you”. I teach my son forgiveness. He did not say “it's okay”. So many of us have that as our automatic response, right? Someone bumps into you and says “I'm sorry” and you, without thinking, say “it's okay”. Then, we find ourselves in this habit of automatically responding with “it's okay” after someone does us wrong. It is NOT “okay” when someone does you wrong, but we do have the choice to forgive them, to choose to let go of the anger, the resentment, the hurt. But we should never give someone permission to do us wrong. It is NOT okay.
I don't make my son to say “I'm sorry”. Those are words and without actions, they are meaningless. I teach my son to apologize. I tell him “if you don't plan to change what you have done wrong, then, don't say 'I'm sorry'; however, if you plan to change your actions, then, you need to apologize.”
“I'm sorry” is used without thinking. Have you every bumped into furniture and said “I'm sorry”? I have! And how much meaning does that carry when we are apologizing to furniture!! We get on autopilot and our words become meaningless. “Actions speak louder than words.” I use that one all the time.
How often has someone told you they were sorry only to continue the same action? That's not BEING sorry, that's SAYING your sorry. In order for an apology to have meaning it has to be followed with action. It's so hard to offer forgiveness to someone who continues with those same actions. When they are ready to change their actions, then, I can offer my forgiveness.
“The Best Apology
is Changed Behavior”
“Forgiveness is letting go
of the hope that the
past can be changed”
If the actions are still in the present, how do we forgive? I struggle with this one myself. I want to move on from the hurt, anger, and resentment, but I feel if I forgive, I give that person permission to continue their behavior. I'm kind of (re: very) stubborn and also very protective of myself and my family. So, when someone does us wrong...let's just say I don't forgive easily.
There was an interesting study done called “The Dark Side of Forgiveness: The Tendency to Forgive Predicts Continued Psychological and Physical Aggression in Marriage”. It proposed the idea that easily forgiving your partner would create an environment where your partner would more easily commit a wrongdoing knowing that there would be little to no consequences. Their findings found this to be very accurate contrary to what many studies have cited, stating that forgiving someone easily creates a better relationship. I think this can be applied to all relationships not just marriage.
Finding that study validated some of my feelings as I feel that when we forgive too easily the perpetrator will continue with those bad behaviors knowing there are no real consequences to their actions. What if we all held people accountable for their bad behavior instead of just dismissing it with “It's okay”?
“Everyone says forgiveness
is a lovely idea,
until they have
something to forgive”
-C. S. Lewis
Peace, Love, Plants,
Jeanmare and Cristy are creators and contributors of the Living Simply Nourished Blog. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee!), find a cozy spot, scroll around, read some stories, find some inspiration, and enjoy!
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