Article 2-B of a Forgiveness Section of the Positive Psychology Series
In my previous article, I continued the discussion on forgiveness by looking at the concept’s blessed partner, namely, apology. Forgiveness is scientifically linked to a host of health benefits, yet it is sometimes a difficult thing to do – and this is even truer of apologizing. As the previous article made clear, we sometimes have very pressing reasons for not admitting our wrongs, such as a feeling that doom will befall us. What’s more, we provide a host of excuses in order to rationalize our refusal to apologize. However, I find that the gift of admitting a wrong and asking for forgiveness is one of the very best things you can give to your mate, your children, or your friends.
We need to remember that forgiveness has been found to contribute to the healing of relationships, and I believe that honestly seeing and admitting a transgression is even more powerful. It builds trust and also strengthens bonds. Asking for forgiveness, especially in a relationship where the stakes are high, may be the next great discovery in positive psychology.
Vulnerability Appeals to Our Common Humanity
Consider the courage that it takes to do this, and what an accomplishment it is for someone’s character to even willingly consider that they were in the wrong. As relational beings, we seem to think that doom will come crashing down upon us if we admit a wrong to someone close – especially if we meant to hurt them. But, in my experience, our hearts become softest when someone makes a true apology. There is no telling how another person will react, and we are often not willing to risk soft heartedness. But we make a very powerful appeal to the other person’s humanity by vulnerably admitting a wrong. This kind of honesty is the love that God has called us to in Christ, and which the Holy Spirit urges us toward. And, in this act, we find His promised freedom.
The Deepening of Relationships
As it states in the title, forgiveness deepens relationships. Trying to hide your wrongs is an act of trying to save your own life – and it becomes a trap that poisons your relationship. It has to be continually kept up, leading you to give in to mental pathways that are hostile and defensive. This breeds resentment for both parties. Admitting your own wrongs, on the other hand, is an act of losing your protection and laying down your life – and Christ promises that those who do this will save their lives. They are the ones who really live. Living out the Kingdom, both in forgiving and in admitting a wrong, results in trust and deeper relationships. In short, it leads to life.
When you apologize, be brave and honest and see it as an act of faith, believing that it will bring a blessing. And when you forgive, do so with a conscious decision to fully forgive. Don’t rob your marriage of its life by making safe apologies that minimize your responsibility, or, conversely, by giving quick forgiveness when you don’t mean it. A marriage blossoms under the intentionality that it takes to face the fact that you meant to hurt each other. Bonds strengthen and trust deepens where the relationship is more important than simply saving face.
Christian Counseling to Tap into the Power of Forgiveness
If you would like to engage counseling from a strengths-based perspective that utilizes the concepts of Positive Psychology, and particularly if you would like to explore the powerful topic of forgiveness, please join us to inquire about setting up an initial session to explore how Christian counseling might fit with your journey. It is my pleasure to join with clients and help them to see the ways in which they have already overcome in life, and how God has uniquely shaped them – both to do great things and to experience joy and goodness in their lives and relationships.
“Thinking Man,” courtesy of rian, CC0 Public Domain ABSFreePic.com; “Hands Fidgeting From Boredom,” courtesy of Mark Spearman, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0)