I saw a meme on Facebook recently that said that most apologies can be translated as “are you done being mad yet?”
As I mentioned last week, I am encouraging people to consider using their Lenten discipline as an opportunity to seek forgiveness from someone that they are hurt. In last Sunday’s sermon I suggested that people first find a core group of people to provide guidance and support for this process.
But I also think that it is important to set aside one goal that you might have in seeking someone else’s forgiveness: the hope that the other person will address your own emotional distress. To put it simply, you cannot insist, or even hope, that the offended person feels better about what happened to alleviate your own guilt, remorse, or discomfort at the situation. Part of experiencing the truth of what has happened means living with your own consequences, even if it does not meet what you hope to happen. Adding to that burden of your initial offense the task of the other person managing your emotions is neither fair nor loving.
There is hope, though. In seeking forgiveness, we are supported and nurtured by God. As Proverbs says, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will gain mercy.” (Prov 17:9) Even if that mercy doesn’t come from the person you offended, our heavenly Creator will provide you mercy in the knowledge and confidence that you have done what needed to be done—for yourself, for the offended, and for God.
It would be nice to experience a reconciliation, a renewal of relationship, and the succor of moving a painful episode to the past. But it cannot be expected, nor demanded, but there is comfort to be found in the spiritual journey that you are on.
Yours in Christ,