Apologies are nice and sometimes we even mean them 😉
People give up a lot to forgive us. They give up resentment, fear, the right to be right and to hold that on us if they are truly forgiving. They clean themselves out for the sake of loving us or partnering with us again. They risk being hurt again.
When we are forgiven, the expectation is that we will do what it takes not to repeat what we were forgiven for doing. Owning that expectation and fulfilling upon it sometimes becomes an afterthought, because we are so glad to be forgiven, we just hope it won’t happen again.
Ideally, being forgiven and still included in people’s lives can be considered an invitation to growth and taken seriously so we can honor that gift they gave us, if we really care about continuing the relationship, earning their trust and renewed vulnerability.
If we have no intention to make the necessary changes, we didn’t get it, we just were looking to get back to the status quo. We’ll probably put people through the same thing again.
We can earn the gift of forgiveness after the fact by looking deeply at who we need to become to get there, to a place where we’re not the same person who would make that mistake again. Often it’s not just about one change in behavior. We may need to become a person who wouldn’t do that again, put ourselves in the same predicament, make the same set of choices. This can change the trajectory of our lives. It can be hard work to learn and get out of old patterns and if we rise to the occasion, down the line we may see how someone’s forgiveness was the start of something wonderful, something we can be proud of.
Who has forgiven you? What’s the opportunity still available in the forgiveness they gave you if you took it more to heart? Who can you thank for what you ultimately made out of their forgiveness, how it changed your life?