By “Deacon G” Gautrau
How many of us have done something for which we should have asked forgiveness, but haven’t?
There are many excuses for not having done so, but not a lot of good reasons. Most of the time, in the “heat of the moment,” we are in a very defensive mode and can only think of ourselves. By the time we realize that perhaps we weren’t in the right, so much damage has been done that we’re afraid or embarrassed to try to reconcile with the other person.
Our pride gets in the way of our doing the right thing and that’s why I say “perhaps” we weren’t in the right. Even when it’s obvious we were in the wrong, it’s hard to admit.Many of us have spent sleepless nights when a simple “I’m sorry” would have been the answer to a restful retreat. It’s a simple solution, but doesn’t always work. The reason it doesn’t work is because it’s the easy way out and can be said just to appease the other party and without truly meaning what we are saying.
For some people, hearing “I’m sorry,” from us is justifiably not enough. It might be necessary to preface that apology with “I was wrong.”
Those additional words can be hard to say because of our pride. It’s difficult to swallow, regardless of how hard we defended ourselves or our position during the verbal sparring, that we must now back off and admit we were wrong. The feeling of relief felt when the other party accepts our apology, assuming that they do, makes a few moments of grief worthwhile.
But then again, there may be some who have been so hurt by our comments that they want a little more from us. They may not even acknowledge our previous attempts at reconciliation. Here the additional healing words, “Will you forgive me?” turns the tide and puts the ball in the aggrieved party’s court. It’s now up to them, to accept or reject our overture, by responding positively or negatively.The best way for us to seek forgiveness is to start with the end in mind and just say those nine words. “I was wrong. I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”
It’s particularly important for husbands and wives to never go to bed angry at each other. No one wants to stew all night or wake up in the morning with an unresolved conflict. St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians (4:26) gives us good advice when he says, “do not let the sun set on your anger.” It’s important for us, when we’re on the receiving end of someone trying to apologize, that we have an open and forgiving heart. Again St. Paul admonishes us to “be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.” (Ephesians 4:32)
Often we say the Lord’s Prayer without even thinking about the words, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The most comforting thing about that request is that we know that if we will do our part, it’s a certainty that the Father will do his for we are told “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.” (Mt 6:14)
It’s never too late to ask someone to forgive us, even if we’ve lost touch with them or they are deceased. We know how hard it would be for them to turn us down if we use the nine healing words. So before going to bed tonight, in addition to addressing those we can, let’s tell the Lord we wish to ask forgiveness of all those we have trespassed against and then we can get a restful night’s sleep.