Sunday, February 1, 2015

Is the First to Forgive Really the Strongest?

Recently I saw a quote on Facebook that I immediately replied "Amen!" to. But, since then I've been thinking about it more deeply, and I'm not so sure about it, based on the "true stories" I have experienced in my life.

I agree with the obvious gist -- forgive, forget and apologize. Yes! Of course! We should all be working on these things, but I emphasize "working," because forgiveness is a process, not something that can be flipped on by a switch.

There is nothing wrong with taking time to process hurt feelings before offering apologies or forgiveness, and taking this time does not make you any less strong than the person who apologized or forgave first. What is most important is that you are working on it. Forgiveness is one of the most important life lessons we have to learn.

I believe people who take time to get their inner emotional house in order before handling conflict are very strong people, because they are waiting to address the situation until they know they are in the right place to handle it. Sometimes handling things before you are ready only creates more chaos.

Having said that though, I do want to point out it is important we actually do work on any forgiveness issues we have, because carrying unforgiveness in our hearts is toxic to ourselves and those around us.

As far as "forgetting," that's only for the little things -- maybe pesky little arguments -- but the big things are never forgotten. They are left behind as battle wounds that influence how we view and handle almost everything in our lives. Those experiences are part of what make us who we are.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I don't think it should be a race to see who can be the first to apologize, forgive or forget so we can have the title of being the bravest, strongest or happiest. Yes, we should all be working toward forgiveness, but we don't need to pressure ourselves or allow others to pressure us to handle situations before we are ready.

Perhaps the best choice we can make when we find ourselves in a situation that requires apologies or forgiveness would be to apply the virtues of grace, kindness, mercy and compassion -- toward ourselves and the other person.
The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in mercy. Psalm 145:8

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