This is my last post in a series begun here and continued here and here.
Robert Karen's last step in the process of forgiveness is to apologize without expecting forgiveness. To most people, such a notion is counter-intuitive.
Why apologize if forgiveness will not be the immediate result? Because the ability to offer forgiveness to one who has wounded you is part of a healing process. The other person may not yet be able to acknowledge that what he or she did was hurtful. The offender may not know that they caused you hurt unless you tell him or her. Communicating your feelings can begin the process of reconciliation.
Karen goes on to suggest that sometimes one should make an apology even when one feels like the other's offense was the more egregious error. "I won't apologize until _____ does."
Why apologize if you were not the only offender? Because sometimes restoring a broken relationship is more important than holding on to our hurt feelings and righteous indignation. Karen would never tell someone to move to this stage of forgiveness without being ready, but sometimes considering the dearness of the offender can make one ready.
As I've suggested before, Christians should live a lifestyle that is always moving toward reconciliation. Such a lifestyle would necessarily include a willingness to take the first step toward forgiveness and reconciliation. We can certainly hope that our apology will bring healing and forgiveness, but we must allow the other time to work through his or her emotions just as we allow ourselves time to do so.
I assume that everyone who reads this blog can think of a situation in which he or she has been offended. Can any of you remember a situation in which you felt yourself to be the more injured party and yet the importance of the relationship led you to make the first move toward healing? Can any of you remember a situation in which you apologized but the other person wasn't immediately ready to forgive? Share some stories.