Forgiveness Challenge: Day 22

Day 22: Witnessing & Apologizing.

Once we’ve admitted our wrong to the person we’ve harmed, we must witness the pain of our wrongdoing. We must hear and affirm what the person we’ve harmed has to say about how we have hurt them. We must do so without arguing, justifying, or excusing our actions. As the Tutus say, “People cannot be cross-examined out of their pain.” Those we’ve harmed wish to be heard and understood, not corrected or dismissed.

The only way to witness is to possess a genuine desire to heal the harm and to stay open to what is said. Hear their view of what happened. Hear the harm they experienced. Hear what they felt and may still feel. Hear how they have carried their pain, anger, and resentment. Hear it as many times as it needs to be told.

There is great power in saying these three words: “I am sorry.” The Tutus say that it is important to be brave enough to say them, vulnerable enough to mean them, and humble enough to repeat them as many times as necessary.

After listening to Mpho recite a poem, “I Am Sorry,” we were invited to begin saying “I am sorry” for the little things every day. This will help us get ready to say “I am sorry” to the people who most need to hear it from us. Our writing exercise was to examine the harm we caused to the person we wish to ask for forgiveness. We were instructed to begin each sentence with “I am sorry for…” and to write as many sentences as possible. I wrote a dozen sentences quickly, and then several more with some reflection. I have much to be sorry for.

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