Forgiveness is absolutely essential in any long term relationship. The fact is, the longer you have been in a relationship, job or church, the greater the chances that you have been hurt. Not because people are evil or because people intentionally tried to hurt you, but because we live in a fallen world. And in a fallen world, even people of good will who love each other will get cross-threaded from time to time.
The key to staying in that relationship, job or church is to forgive. I think there are three keys in play here: 1) Realize the intent was not to hurt you. You have to offer the benefit of the doubt here. 2) Realize that you may be partially to blame in the process. I have noticed that people who are frustrated at me are people with whom I am frustrated and 3) Choose to forgive. That is right. It is a choice, not a disposition.
People who can’t renegotiate relationships after being hurt will miss the benefits reaped by both parties in a long term relationship. If you have been in your marriage, job or congregation for a while, you have a significant investment in that relationship. You have built something significant together. it is called a life. Don’t let little present disappointments rob you of infinitely greater long term (or even eternal) joys.
What is the secret of successful long term relationships? Forgiveness.
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop