...when they choose not to forgive you

Written by Kathy Parker

There are times we hurt others. Whether purposefully or inadvertently, it makes little difference. We have still damaged another through our own actions, and so we seek to make that right. It hurts us to know we have hurt another; we ask forgiveness and seek restoration in the hope to receive grace from those we have wronged. We hope for the best outcome. We hope for what we perceive as fair. Sometimes though, we do not receive forgiveness, no matter how sorry we are. No matter how much we try and make it right. And it is hard to accept, it is hard to let go of the injustice we feel at not being granted the forgiveness we had so hoped for.

But this is what we need to remember. Their forgiveness is not your responsibility. Your responsibility is this: To admit your mistakes. To own your actions. To seek forgiveness. To make right the things you can. To let go of the things you cannot. To learn, to grow, to recognize behaviours in you that have hurt others and change them. To mindfully choose to be a better person, and take necessary action required for that to happen. But their forgiveness is not your responsibility.

We do not get to control the way others think of us or what they choose to believe about us. We can stand before them with our heart in our hands and ask them to see it - to see us - for whom we are and not for what we have done. But we cannot make someone forgive us who is determined to only believe the worst of us. Who is determined to hold tight to their judgement, their bitterness, and their animosity. This is a hard lesson for people like us to learn. People like us, who believe in forgiveness. Who give second chances. Who understand the human condition, the way we fail and fall. Who choose to believe people are good, and that until we have walked a mile in their shoes, we will never fully understand the choices they have made. Nor the mistakes they have made, and why they have made them.

We are people who believe mercy triumphs over judgement, and we choose to love others with grace and with second chances, understanding the frailty of our own humanity. And it can be hard to accept there are people who do not live like this, who do not love like this. But what matters is these people are not our judges, nor are they our jury. We do not belong in their courtroom.

What they choose to believe about us is their choice, and who we are is not dictated by who they try to make us believe we are. When we have taken responsibility for our actions, when we have owned our wrongs and sought to make them right, when we have asked forgiveness and reached for reconciliation, then we have done all we need to do. We are no longer bound by their unforgiveness but can walk away knowing we are worthy of our own grace, even when they are unwilling to extend theirs. What others choose to believe of us is not the truth. It is only their opinion. Only their judgement.

Only the evidence of their unenlightened heart. Their forgiveness is not your responsibility. We do not always get the outcome we hope for. But when we have done all we can do, it is no longer our burden to carry. Just because someone is not willing to forgive us, it does not make us unforgivable. Unshackled from the chains of their unforgiveness, we can now run free under skies of grace and redemption. We can now rise strong.

Act now, give today