As I mentioned in my last post “When Your Secrets are Revealed…,” – I wanted to take a few looks at the practical things that might come out of it, in no particular order.
The questions that always come up (including the ones I asked) when talking about asking for forgiveness from those affected by our sin are:
-“What if they won’t forgive me?”
-“I didn’t do anything that bad, did I?”
-“Won’t bringing it back up just create more problems or conflict?”
-“I don’t know how to find them, so what should I do?”
-“They won’t even talk to me, so how can I ever try?”
-“They ruined my life by heaping all sorts of judgment and public condemnation on me and wouldn’t show me any mercy, so why should I ask for their forgiveness?”
-“It’s not like my struggle with porn ever really affected anyone else, what am I asking for forgiveness for?”
-“I’m scared to go to them, how do I even start?”
These are just a sample of questions I have either heard, or thought myself. Some are questions out of fear, some out of pride, and some are just not sure where to start.
It is never easy to go and ask for forgiveness from others – especially when you may have hurt them directly or indirectly. Or for fear that they may not react in the way you are hoping for. But there is something to humbling yourself before those you have hurt and before the God of love… and asking for forgiveness and then turning to walk opposite of how you have been walking.
The Bible is filled with commands and pleas to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. Here’s a sampling of a few if you want to look them up:
Matthew 6:12-15, Matthew 18:15-35, 2 Corinthians 2:10, Colossians 3:13, 1 John 1:9.
My story of seeking out forgiveness from others has been met by some good and some bad times. Those that I directly hurt with my actions involving sex/pornography, most have extended their forgiveness to me. Those that I indirectly hurt or affected by my actions have actually been a little tougher. Some have ignored me, or refused to talk to me. And you know what, I actually understand – it’s hard to forgive and let go. A lot of time feels like you are saying what happened is ok. I understand them being upset with me.
The reason I ask for forgiveness is not because I think I deserve it, but because I know I am wrong and I know that this is what God asks of me. But even more, I truly do want the forgiveness of God, which means not only do I need to account for my wrongs but I also need to extend to forgiveness to those who have hurt or ignored or not forgiven me.
I want to walk in good relationship with as many as I possibly can. And for me, I want to go beyond just extended and asking for forgiveness, I’d like to walk in reconciliation with those I have hurt and who have hurt me. I know it won’t always be possible (there are times when people just need to go their separate ways and eliminate contact with each other), but I’d like to try and live that way as much as possible.
And I urge and encourage you to try and do the same, as much as possible. Extend grace to one another, as God has extended to you. Accept responsibility for your actions and strive to live at peace with one another. Better said than done… yes, maybe. But that doesn’t mean we can’t change and strive to live that way.
Write letters, emails or call on the phone if you just can’t do it person. Take someone who has walked with you during your struggle if that helps you apologize in person (I did and it was so helpful). Or write down your apology in your own words and keep it somewhere safe until you feel you are ready to face those you hurt. Pray to God, and ask Him for His help in this whole process, I truly believe He can and will help if you truly seek His help.
Amazing Grace has been extended to us in Christ, and regardless of whether it is extended to us by others we have hurt – let us rest in the new life Jesus gives us.