May 13, 2013

Accepting What You Can't Change

I've had a couple big relationship things weighing heavily on my mind lately.

Not high profile to most people, even in my inner circle, but the situations are hard on me nonetheless.

The two cases have to do with apologies and the giving and receiving of forgiveness.

Case #1- I've apologized and I'm waiting to see what she decides to do. I was in the wrong, so she'll be fully justified in deciding to accept my apology or not. I'll understand either choice.

Case #2- I've apologized and tried repeatedly to mend our friendship, and it looks more and more like the person will not reciprocate apologies and allow us to continue as friends. He's shown to be stubborn and vindictive and bully-ish, so I can't see reconciliation happening.

So when a friend posted the link to this ThoughtCatalog article, it was a godsend to me:

Its lessons - particularly #7 - support what I recently read in a book about apologies and forgiveness:
If your first attempt [at apologies/reconciliation] fails, I suggest you make a second and third attempt. An apology says, "I value this relationship, and I want to deal with this problem." The refusal to apologize says, "I do not value this relationship, and it's okay with me if we continue to be estranged." We cannot force an apology but we can extend the olive branch and express our willingness to forgive. If, in the final analysis, they are unwilling to restore the relationship, you may then release them to God and release your hurt and anger to Him. Don't allow their unwillingness to deal with the problem destroy your life. It takes two people to build a positive, healthy relationship.*
Once we've done our best to seek forgiveness, the ball is in the other person's hands.

In case #1, she can choose to accept my apology and forgive (maybe she already has), with or without the option of reconciliation. She would be justified either way. At this point, I can release my pain and hurt to God. Of course, my preference would be reconciliation between the two of us.

In case #2, I've done all I can do, and as I don't see any forgiveness occurring, I can release the relationship to God and move on. Sometimes friendships end. I suppose all relationships have a lifecycle, even ones that began half a lifetime ago in high school.

So now I can just allow things to happen as they may (for these cases) and accept what I can't change.

*Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married, by Gary Chapman, pp 71-72. I highly recommend this whole book to anyone wanting healthier relationships, both before and after marriage. Lots of it can also be applied to improve friendships.

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