how to forgive even if no apology was given

When I asked for blog post ideas someone suggested “how to forgive.” I thought that sounded like a good topic because we can all say we have been done wrong by someone, but on the flip side of this, I think we can admit we have also found ourselves doing people wrong.

That thought doesn’t feel great. “ME doing someone else wrong???”

But as much as we don’t like to admit it, most times when there is conflict, both sides play a part in it. It may be hard to see it that way if you’re the person who got hurt, but it’s also a humbling realization that can actually bring comfort and help with future conflict. Instead of pointing fingers, we could actually take responsibility for our actions to understand the other person or situation better. We tend to go into a defensive or victim mindset, whether we have been done wrong or are doing wrong. It’s human instinct when we get hurt to think we’re right and the other person involved is wrong. So how do we retrain our brains to look at the part we played in it, instead of just pointing fingers? And how do we get over situations where we feel like we are the only one trying to move towards a positive outcome?

Whether it’s a broken heart, friendships that die off, fights with parents or siblings, conflict with a teacher or boss, the list of hurts we can experience in life is long. It could be something as simple as a friend you trusted sharing your secrets or as big as a parent having an affair. Hurt is hurt, it comes in all shapes and sizes, and there is always something to be mourned in situations of loss. But for our own well-being, we have to know when enough is enough and how to move on from the situation or even the person.

This is a tricky subject to maneuver because every loss, break up and disappointment has to be grieved. The hurt caused by rejection is very real. The human body was not designed to undergo rejection, so that’s why when we do feel this horrible pain of heartbreak it hurts SO BAD. God didn’t create us with the intention of us feeling rejection. When we’ve been hurt or rejected, we need to take some time to process and every situation is so different. I do think it’s up to us how long it takes to get over the hurt. Yes, I understand people grieve differently and with unique circumstances, but when it comes down to it, we have to keep in mind: yes this hurts, this hurts me a lot in this point in time, but I WILL NOT feel like this forever.

So, how do we forgive someone when there is no apology given? Let me expand on this, how do we move on from a situation or person when the issue has been ignored or no wrong is acknowledged? I have been on both sides of this spectrum from being the person who didn’t receive a genuine apology, to being the heartless person to move on without giving one, or taking a really lonnnnngggg time to give one. So I want to look at both sides since I think most of us can relate to being there. And before I start, if anyone reading this feels as if I have done them wrong or hurt them and it seemed like I didn’t care, I just want to apologize right here. I’ve learned that honest communication is so important and at this point if I need to be told that I did something hurtful and glossed over it, please reach out to me!

So I’m going to be honest here and talk about when I was the person not giving the apology or at least the right apology when it was due. Don’t be this person! Even though I ended up genuinely sorry a year or so too late, it was a rough process of dealing with the consequences of that. I decided to put my selfish feelings and my immature actions before another person and it hurt them. Of course I knew I messed up and I said sorry what feels like millions of times, but it wasn’t until awhile after that when I truly realized how much in the wrong I was and how even though back then my selfish choice “helped” me do the things I wanted to do, that freedom I ended up with caused behavior that actually screwed me over. I look back at that time feeling like I was a different person and I piss myself off if I think about it. I feel like my sorry meant nothing, because I was too busy justifying my actions. I said my shallow “sorry” and took myself out of the situation, only to regret what I had done and wishing I had a chance to do it all over again. Now this is not me saying every time you don’t get a sincere apology this is what the other person is going through, because it’s not. People can be very heartless and not ever have that “come to Jesus moment” where they realize how awful they acted and what it cost them. That’s something they may or may not ever realize but it’s a burden that they will have to carry because you will be secure in who you are and at peace with the whole circumstance.

So onto the hard part, being the one who doesn’t get an apology or at least a sincere apology that’s meaningful, not forced or said out of obligation. Sometimes that’s worse than not even getting an apology at all because then you constantly think and dwell on this person’s capability to actually mean what they said and if their actions back it up. Because when we say we’re sorry, that means we don’t or at least try not to do the same hurtful thing again.

So how to we deal with one-sided closure? The first thing I’ve done is pray, then write down everything I could think of that I had done wrong in the whole circumstance. So for example, if you were in a relationship and maybe you and this girl struggled to stay pure, you write down the fact that you did not honor her or treat her as your sister in Christ, and that could be part of the downfall. Maybe your friend shared private stuff you told her to other people but you also knew that she was gossipy so trusting her probably wasn’t a great idea in the first place. There are so many other examples I could use, but write down the part you played and maybe if you really aren’t at fault, at least write down the things you would have done differently. Then if you’re comfortable with someone trustworthy, find a friend or parent, or mentor you can talk it through with, and just get somewhere quiet and pray about it, God is truly the best listener there is. As you work on this list, please don’t start to become regretful or feel bad about yourself. Nobody is perfect so use this as a tool to learn from the mistakes made on YOUR END, not the other person’s. Look through your list and try to pick out a cycle or similar concept through where you’ve gone wrong. Maybe it’s lying or maybe you always tried to take control or maybe you weren’t vulnerable and didn’t let anyone in when it was appropriate. Start to pinpoint the places in your life at the moment where you can practice fixing these traits and tell someone close to you who can hold you accountable to work on these specific issues that led to conflict. As you start to do this you will find yourself starting to really work on being more aware of your strengths and weaknesses and even sometimes you will start to see much more clearly about the whole situation.

Maybe you’ll see that despite the pain you are feeling, there is an apology owed on your part as well. Where there are a few cases that the hurt you experienced had NOTHING to do with your actions, most cases you played a part in your own heartbreak or disappointment, either from not listening to trusted advice or not noticing red flags or not reaching out for help earlier on, or trying to force something…regret is a tough pill to swallow, but I am telling you becoming better from the situation instead of bitter will help accelerate the healing process of this pain.

I’m sharing this because I’ve been on both sides and doing these things has worked for me so my heart doesn’t get hard. There still may be times where we struggle looking for reasons to justify our hurt and feeling overwhelmed by the conflict. This is because the devil, who hates God, is out to kill, steal and destroy and when he sees a weakness in our lives, he will take that and use it against us every chance he gets. So just like athletes getting hurt, they might be out for a little bit of the season, while they not only work the hurt muscle back into a healthy state, but sometimes they will make it stronger than it was before to help any further  injury to it. It’s like when we are heartbroken, we can choose to work on the things we allowed that could have led to the hurt so the next time we go into a relationship or friendship or responsibility, we are much more aware of our strengths and our weakness. And just like when an athlete is injured, once that muscle gets injured the first time sometimes it can still cause pain throughout the recovery process, not as much as the first time when it became injured but maybe a little pain just enough to knock us down a minute or wear us out. Like in the process of not receiving that sincere apology, the devil will pop a thought in our heads or a memory will be triggered or we see something that will cause us to feel that familiar pain. Here’s the good news. It’s what we decide to do with those thoughts and actions that dictate our next move. Just like an athlete we can ignore the soreness and choose to continue strengthening this “muscle” so there will come a day when it’s completely healed, so will those wounds in our hearts be completely healed. Bottom line: you are the only one able to control what thoughts you dwell on and which ones don’t belong in your mind.

So if there’s one thing you take away please hear this, we all cause hurt and get hurt at some point, but we can choose what to do with it. Forgiveness is powerful. We can control how we react and learn from conflicts so we do better next time. You are the only person who decides when you move on or not. Like the saying goes, get BETTER not BITTER. Okay so just know you’re awesome! If you need someone to pray for you or just listen, as always slide into my dmsssssss and let me know wassupppp. FYI – in the program I’m in now, I can only view my Insta DMs on Sundays but I’m on Twitter/Facebook throughout the week so feel free to message me there for a quicker response! xoxo
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