by Joy Loverde
Everyday life offers myriad opportunities to practice the art of forgiveness. For example, next time the store clerk shoots you a dirty look or a driver cuts you off in traffic, forgive her and him on the spot. You might say to yourself, “She’s having a bad day, let it go,” or say a prayer, “God, forgive him.”
More serious offenses require a different approach. Experience has taught me that there is no disgrace in walking out of a situation that is intolerable or beyond my power to handle. If someone starts name calling and blaming, I may take the option of excusing myself and physically leaving the room momentarily to regain composure.
Other times, when I am more confident in my ability to remain calm under pressure, I use other methods to stay put and face the music - sip on a glass of water, take long, deep breaths, count to ten, and silently recite a prayer for the offender. These actions buy time as I collect my thoughts and calm myself down.
The idea is to practice forgiving others on a daily basis, and it won’t be long until you get the message that another person’s current rage and outlandish behavior has little or nothing to do with you.
Even people who love us very much will hurt and betray us. Don’t wait for an apology. That day may never come. If you’re committed to getting the relationship back on track, you may want to make the first move by being the first to apologize. Saying, “I’m sorry we’re having such problems and if I did something to disappoint you, I’m sorry about that too,” cuts the tension in the air almost immediately.
Talking things over can resolve most differences if both sides are willing to speak without attacking and listen without interrupting. What’s more, gaining a better understanding of the hurt may even create a stronger bond between you.
When all else fails, and you can't set differences aside, seek help from a third party – a professional counselor who specializes in working with family members. This person can act as a facilitator to help get the relationship back on track.
Lastly, can we really pardon and excuse those who have committed serious violations against us such as cases of incest, verbal and physical abuse, abandonment, and financial exploitation? Experts advise us to seek professional counseling. Unless offenders have undergone extensive therapy, reconciliation may not be possible.
As I look back on some of the things I have said and done that unintentionally hurt others, I most certainly would have done things differently, and I would like to believe that those who have wronged me feel the same. The time is now to forgive and move on.
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