When I was the ripe old age of eleven, I can remember coming home from school one day in tears, because my best friend had said something that hurt my feelings. My mother, who had a gift for delivering 2 to 3 sentence lectures that really hit home, put her arms around me, listened to my story, and then asked me two questions. “Would you ever say something on purpose to hurt your friend?”
I thought for a moment and then shook my head. Of course I wouldn’t do that. Not on purpose! “What makes you think that she was trying to hurt you? You need to forgive her.” I spent the rest of the evening thinking about what my mom had asked me to do. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my friend probably had no idea that she had offended me. She would feel terrible if she knew. I loved my friend and I would forgive her and no apology was necessary.
As an adult, I have tried to remember my mother’s words every time I find myself feeling offended by another’s behavior. I remind myself that I am human and make mistakes and I want others to forgive me. I remind myself that what is done is done and can’t be taken back. I think about the good things that this person has done for me, and how much I appreciate them. I decide that I don’t need an apology and I can just let it go.
Taking offense places a burden on our hearts. Forgiveness removes that burden and gives us peace. Our children need to learn this lesson.