You know exactly what i’m talking about
Chances are someone specific came to mind when you read the title. No worries, you’re in good company. There’s not a single person to walk the earth who hasn’t experienced an unsaid apology. Every one has, at some time in their life, had someone mistreat them and never apologize for it. It’s unfortunate and it’s unkind, but (even if unknowingly) we’ve all done it. There are SO many reasons why an apology may go unsaid. Regardless of why, it can still sting. Even if it only crosses our mind every now and then, it’s something that can be really difficult to truly let go of. Forgiveness even without an apology has the power to allow you to let go.
Can closure or reconciliation be a bad thing?
I always thought bringing closure or reaching out to someone and clearing the air could only be a good thing. I mean.. apologies, forgiveness, mended bridges… all good things… right?? Well, it depends. (To all my bachelor fans) Are you in it for the right reasons!? Hahaha.. okay, but really and seriously. The heart behind your actions matters so much. I realized that depending on where your heart is, closure or reconciliation can actually be a bad thing.
My Personal Experience withholding forgiveness
The other day, I had one of those moments. A situation crossed my mind and the thoughts started flowing.
“Why didn’t this person like me? Why were they so unkind? I really thought we were going to be good friends.. Maybe I should be the one to reach out.. Maybe I should be the one to apologize just in case it was something I did to make this person dislike me……”
Then the Holy Spirit intervened and things shifted. I began digging for answers that would lead to truly letting go.
“Why does this bother me anyway? What would be the point of reaching out? Was there good fruit in the relationship in the first place? Did the relationship have a good, Jesus-centered foundation? Would a friendship with this person further the Kingdom of God?”
These new questions (that I had never thought of before) really humbled me. It made me realize that it bothered me so much because.. I was being selfish. I wanted to clear the air so there were no hard feelings against ME, reach out in hopes it would encourage this person to apologize to ME, mend the bridge just to know this person accepts ME.. If life was all about winning people over just to like US.. then my motives were spot on. But that isn’t what life is about. So I decided not to reach out. But I needed to know why and how to forgive someone who never said (or maybe never even felt) sorry. I’m going to share my revelations that Jesus gave to me in hopes of them helping someone let go of the weight that comes with holding back your forgiveness.
Points to ponder
- What was the foundation of the friendship to begin with? To start off simply, was the foundation of your friendship positive or negative? Some friends get together and feel like they vibe well when talking about Jesus, projects, self-care, motivational topics.. you know! Things that build others up! Other people feel a disconnect until they find something negative in common (such as disagreeing with someone else or gossiping about others) and then all of a sudden it’s like they could talk for hours. Wanting to go back to a friendship with a negative foundation could be one of those times where reconciliation would be a “bad” thing.
- Why were they unkind to you? When you get to the bottom of things, there are really only 2 reasons in general that someone was unkind to you. Either it really had nothing to do with you; or they don’t respect you enough to be transparent and let you know that something you did offended them. So.. maybe it had nothing to do with you at all. We’ve all got our own stuff going on that others don’t know about (mental illness, physical illness, trauma, ect.). As humans, sometimes we unintentionally take it out on others. And for the latter.. a “friend” that was offended by something you did and their response of choice was to purposely be mean to you (vs confront the situation and use it for you both to grow) isn’t a great sign.
- Could this friendship further the Kingdom of God? It’s important to remember that iron sharpens iron. (Proverbs 27:17) For this reason, you want to be intentional about the people you surround yourself with. Does this person, as an individual, try to shed light in this dark world? Does it seem that they care for the things Jesus does? Is it obvious Who they live for? If you feel you should reconcile things with this person, make sure it is for reasons like these. Reasons that would allow your friendship to further the Kingdom of God. If you want to reconcile solely for an apology or the feeling of acceptance, you might want to reconsider.
Why forgiveness when they aren’t sorry
Withholding forgiveness creates a weight that we will carry until the person apologizes or we choose to forgive them anyway. If this friendship didn’t have good fruit, lift others up, or bring glory to God do yourself a favor- put the weight down. Holding onto that weight actually leads to subconsciously holding a grudge against that person because we feel something we are owed is being withheld. Just let it go. Take peace in knowing that they either didn’t mean it or they had a downfall like every other human. Know that you are not defined by how many people like you. But also know that Jesus has friends for you that will better your life, celebrate you, and confront any assumed issues instead of being unkind. Life is too short to make yourself carry weights from other people’s downfalls.
When Reaching out is a good thing
All that being said, if you knowingly wronged someone or were unkind someone, I encourage you to swallow your pride and reach out. If you had division come between a friendship and you don’t think it was from anything you did, but you feel Jesus wants you to reach out- do it! Even if you don’t get a good response, remember it’s not about them or you.. it’s about Jesus and bringing glory to His name! If you are struggling to figure out whether or not Jesus wants you to reach out, I encourage you to journal for at least a week about it (longer if needed). It can be difficult to sort through our thoughts sometimes and writing them down, along with prayers about the situation, will help bring clarity. Your ultimate decision should bring peace.
Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Whether your forgiveness comes with an apology or not, it always comes with freedom!