When I was younger the phrase “Love Means you never have to say your sorry.” became very popular. It was used constantly between people as an excuse to not have to apologize. After all if you love me than I don’t have to say I’m sorry. Life has taught me that the phrase should read “Love means forgiving even when they don’t say their sorry”.
We all experience difficult times and difficult people in our life at one time or another. Sometimes those we love the most are the ones that will hurt us the most. Often they walk away leaving the hurt and the wounds but still appearing in our lives on a regular basis. Maybe it’s a spouse who chooses a different mate or a different lifestyle. Maybe it’s a good friend who makes a choice that inadvertently affects your life in a damaging way. Maybe it’s a stranger who leaves a path of destruction behind him. It may even be a child who is trying to figure out their own life and hurts yours in the process. The point is to do we hate forever or do we forgive and move on.
The Bible teaches that we should do unto others as they would do unto us. Or better still do good to those who would persecute you. How about Pray for your enemies or love your neighbor as yourself. Christ gave the ultimate example. When he went into the Garden of Gethsemane to atone for our sins he didn’t say now I will do this for you if you say you are sorry. He said I will do this for you and then hope that someday you will say you are sorry. He gave us unconditional love. The kind that says “I’ll love you even if you don’t say you’re sorry.”
Sometimes we forget that love and trust are two different things. The Bible also teaches restitution, being accountable for our actions, and a judgment according to our works. Faith with out works is dead. So does that mean that loving a person even though they don’t sincerely apologize mean allowing them to hurt you again? I have been told by more than one therapist that loving and forgiving does not mean putting myself in a position to be hurt again. Should we be expected to pick up a snake that bit us once a second time or are we allowed to be careful?
So the question comes; how can I forgive the hurt when I have to see or deal with them on a regular basis? In my case it would have been easier to just move away. Not deal with the person again and not have to be reminded of the pain they caused in my life. In other cases it was a family member who chose paths that weren’t in accordance to my beliefs and ideals and occasionally it was even a child who hadn’t figured out the politeness of life which caused the pain. Life has taught me that walking away isn’t always the answer. I have learned that to Love as Christ would love means forgiving constantly. When the Bible tells us to forgive 7 times 70 that must mean that since I am human and do not have the ultimate compassion of Christ I may have to forgive the same sin 7 times 70. Each time something comes up that brings to mind the memory of past hurts I must once again say your forgiven; Not out loud for the world to hear but very quietly to myself and then go on. I have learned that the hurt may never totally go away and one of the lessons in life will be learning to love those who have hurt you without ever receiving an I’m sorry. It may mean learning to be nice when it is difficult or holding your tongue when it would be easier to lash out. It may mean crying silent tears of grief while the world gives acclaim to one who hurt you. It means putting the better foot forward in all circumstances. It means walking as Christ would walk. Loving as Christ would love. Not expecting but always willing to hope for a change of heart. It means being grateful for the good and overlooking the bad. It means walking daily a little taller and a lot more humble. Forgiving doesn’t mean putting yourself in a position to be hurt again but it does mean saying each time the hurt crosses your mind I forgive you even if it takes 7 times 70.
Life has taught me that things happen. Friendships come and friendships go. People change and make mistakes. But can I be the better person, not judging but always loving? Life has taught me to learn to say each day what would Christ have me do? Life has taught me that to be happy and find peace in the world I must follow his example in Gethsemane. I must learn to say I will forgive whether you apologize or not. I must look at my own conscience and make sure that I have done all that I can do to right the wrongs I have caused. And when I have completed my own work then maybe I can learn to forgive, forget, and move on.