Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’
August 4th, 2011
The day I married my husband, the pastor spoke of three phrases of three simple words that every couple should say to each other, every day.
The first phrase, he told us, is: I love you.
This one comes quite easy to me. I say “I love you” rather often. I say it to my husband, to my kids, to my parents, and to my friends. My love flows easily, freely, and in abundance. I refuse to withhold it from those that have a place in my heart, and it is unconditional. “I love you” is very natural for me.
The second phrase Pastor Bob said we should say to each other is “I thank you”.
Again, “thank you’s” are usually easy-peasy. I try to maintain an attitude of gratitude and show my appreciation for things big and small. Sometimes, though, I might forget, or accidently take something for granted, or not realize how badly someone needs that “I thank you”. I do make mistakes with this one, I know, because I am not quite as deliberate as I am with the “I love you”.
The third phrase that we were instructed to say to one another is “I am sorry.”
Sorry can be really hard. It is hard to admit fault when we are certain that we are right. It can be hard to say sorry when we are also in need of an apology. And it can be hard to simply face the pain that we have caused in the people that we love. Saying a very genuine ”I am sorry” can be plain old hard. But it is so important. Obviously, apologies don’t undo what was done to get us to that point in the first place, but they do acknowledge the feelings of our loved ones. An apology offers humility, and shows that we are sensitive to the experience of others. Maybe “I am sorry” doesn’t make it all right again right away, but it certainly does not cause any more pain. And so, ”I am sorry” is crucial. It is is crucial to mean it when we say it.
This weekend, something happened that made me decide to add one last phrase to the list. That last phrase is “I forgive you.”
Like everyone else, my feelings get hurt sometimes. And sometimes it takes me a while to forgive. In one way or another, though, I always do because I refuse to hold on to the hurt. But sometimes, even when I have forgiven, it doesn’t occur to me to tell someone “I forgive you”. Instead, I move on and assume that they know I have not hardened my heart to them. When I take a moment to think about that, I realize that it is kind of silly not to say “I forgive you”. After all, it is three simple words. But then again, it can be hard to say “I forgive you” because it is risky. By forgiving someone, you put your heart in their hands at the risk of being hurt…Again. But what a difference that makes to a relationship to forgive and let go of the pain. It makes a difference to ourselves, to our loved ones, and to the well-being of the relationship. This morning, I told Derek that I forgave him and tears welled up in his eyes. When I told him that I forgave him, I also told him that I have not hardened myself to him. That my walls are not up. That I have given him my heart for safe keeping. That he is worth it.
And you know what, I felt a lightening in my heart too, to know that even though I was hurt, it will be okay.
So there they are. Three phrases, plus one, that need to be said in every significant relationship: I love you. I thank you. I am sorry. And, I forgive you. Think for a moment how often you utter these sentences, saying them meaningfully and sincerely. And think for a moment how often you hear them said to you. Maybe you need to say them more to your husband, your kids, your best friend. Or maybe you need to hear them from those people. Maybe you even need to hear and say those words to yourself.
Think about who you need to say that to, and who needs to hear those words from you today…And then, go tell them.
Ellie Otteson, MA, CPC
Life and Wellness Coach
The New U Vitality Center