It's quite possible that the two hardest things to ever say are: "I was wrong, I'm sorry." and "I forgive you."
Mending broken relationships, whether being the offender or the offended, can be absolutely painful. It can be awkward. It can be filled with anger. It can be filled with fear. It can be filled with just about anything, depending on the situation at hand. When your heart is hurting over something someone has done to you or your heart is hurting because you know you've hurt someone in some way, we carry an invisible weight that we cannot see, but boy, do we feel the weight we carry. It's the feeling of pushing a boulder uphill. We push and push but the task seems so daunting that we become discouraged. We lose heart. We face many doubts. We tell ourselves "I cannot forgive this person." or "I cannot apologize, because I wasn't wrong." We hold on to the one thing that will ultimately be our own undoing -- pride. Pride is a monster. It tells us that we must respect ourselves and hold sacred our honor first and foremost. That is dangerous, because once it becomes about us, we push everything else out. Reason, understanding, compassion, our ability to apologize or accept someone elses apology. Pride shields us from looking weak. Pride protects us from being vulnerable. Pride feeds us enough propaganda to keep our weapons drawn and our hearts in the fight. We see the dangers of pride in the verses below:
"The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart, “Who will bring me down to the ground?” -Obadiah 1:3
"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." -Proverbs 16:18
"Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin." -Proverbs 21:4
I found myself in a quarrel with my old boss shortly before I resigned from a previous job. My boss and I had a pretty good relationship for quite some time, unfortunately, we didn't see things eye to eye one day and things went south. Tempers flared, we put on our armor and went to war with one another. It wasn't a ground war with attacks back and forth, but instead, a nuclear war. We both dropped bombs on one another and severed all ties. It was done. There were brief discussions of negotiations but I was given another job opportunity and I took it. That was the icing on the cake of an already terrible situation. Of course, I felt like I was right in everything that happened. They wronged me and I would not work for someone who didn't respect me. I continued to justify my actions and tell myself how I was so terribly, terribly hurt. It took a long time. It took some healing. It took some perspective. It took me letting go of the one thing that wouldn't allow me to "admit defeat" as it would call it -- pride. Once I put my weapons down and took a hard look at the situation, I realized that there were many things I could have done better. There were things that I was wrong about. Once pride was out of the equation, which should have happened sooner, I knew that I needed to make things right. Sure, there were still things they did to me that were wrong. Things I was accused of that I didn't do. But, in the grand scheme of things, was it worth holding onto? Would I really let that imprison me for the rest of me life, just because I didn't receive an apology? No. It's not worth it. It never is. Forgiveness sets us free. Apologizing and admitting our mistakes sets us free.
Jesus tells us the importance of forgiveness: “If you forgive people their sins, your Father in heaven will forgive your sins also. 15 If you do not forgive people their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." -Matt 6:14-15
He also tells us the importance of apologizing and making it right: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." -Matthew 5:9
I eventually reached out to my old boss and asked for his forgiveness. I apologized for my mistakes and also let him know that I forgave him of anything I felt wronged for. The peace that I received after that was worth pushing that boulder up the hill. It was hard. It took time and energy. It was awkward and frustrating. But at the end of the day, the Lord told me what the right thing to do was. It wasn't the easy option, but it was the right option. Most of the hard things God asks of us, builds us up in ways we can't even imagine. We mature. We grow in wisdom. We build in character. The Lord becomes ever more present in our daily lives. It's a very spiritual thing to make amends.
So maybe you've got a bad situation with someone currently, things aren't good. Maybe you're the offending party, perhaps you're the offended. But I challenge you to consider letting it go. To approach them in humble spirit and talking it out. They may not listen to you. They may curse you. Do it anyway. You will not only release the weight you're holding, you will grow spiritually, and you will be obeying Jesus in your deeds.
Or maybe someone has approached you and asked for forgiveness, yet you are withholding it from them. I also challenge you to accept the apology and move on. There is no worth in holding on to a grudge. There is no worth in living in the past. Life is moving forward, while you sit in a prison of pride that keeps you living in the past. Day after day, you are filled with anger, malice, bitterness, or even ill-will. I assure you, that person whom you will not forgive is not in the same prison you are. If they have approached you with an apology, they are free and no longer hold the burden that you carry. Let it go. Let them go. Move forward. Pride isn't worth it, friend.
I end with encouragement from Jesus out of Luke 6:27-31: "I say to you who hear Me, love those who work against you. Do good to those who hate you. 28 Respect and give thanks for those who try to bring bad to you. Pray for those who make it very hard for you. 29 Whoever hits you on one side of the face, turn so he can hit the other side also. Whoever takes your coat, give him your shirt also. 30 Give to any person who asks you for something. If a person takes something from you, do not ask for it back. 31 Do for other people what you would like to have them do for you."
Let it go.