Forgive Me?

Kyle Bartholic   -  

Early into our parenting journey Danielle and I learned an important lesson about the power of forgiveness. An older couple whose kids were all out of the house reflected to us that they made it a habit to never say, “it’s okay,” when their children apologized to them. Instead, they would say, “you’re forgiven.” At first, I thought, that seems silly; you are essentially saying the same things with different words. So, I asked them why they emphasized the distinction. Their answer changed my perspective. They said, “If my child or really anyone needs to apologize, they are apologizing because they acted or spoke in a way that was not okay, so why would I tell them that it was? Instead, I tell them that I forgive them.”


Maybe you are like me and don’t think there is much difference between the phrases or that it just feels like splitting hairs. I totally understand that. What stood out to me at that moment was the clarity that comes from the powerful experience of being forgiven.


Forgiveness says:


  1. I see what you did / heard what you said.
  2. I was impacted and hurt by what you did or said.
  3. In forgiving you, I’m not justifying what you did or said.
  4. Instead, by forgiving you, I am committing to not holding it against you in the future.
  5. By accepting my forgiveness, you are acknowledging that action or statement shouldn’t be repeated in the future.


Forgiveness truly is a powerful thing, and often it becomes a disarming thing. When we really experience forgiveness that doesn’t hold the offense against us, it begins the process of building intimacy through trust. Yes, trust takes time to build and is quickly lost. Trust is possibly the most valuable relational commodity or currency that we have. But, we will never grow in relational intimacy or closeness with one another without building trust. And, you cannot build trust without stepping into the process of forgiveness. Forgiveness disarms our defenses and helps our hearts to experience gratitude. Why? Because we know what we’ve done and that it won’t be held against us, it’s not that our actions were dismissed or made to be okay. They were recognized, addressed, and accounted for.


Our Father in heaven offers us that kind of forgiveness through his Son, Jesus. He sees our sin and rebellion and has been impacted by it. Why? Because we fractured and broke the relationship with him. Yet, he is faithful to forgive us when we ask (1 Jn. 1:9). When we experience his forgiveness, we are disarmed and become grateful. Then, just as we have been forgiven, we are to extend the same type of forgiveness to others (Matt. 6:12). There is something powerful about being forgiven and not just having our hurtful actions dismissed or made to be okay.