Do you find it challenging to say the following three words, "I am sorry"?
I think I can almost maybe hear your response, "Well, it depends."
Are there instances in which a person's actions can signal his repentance despite him not having uttered the words?
To illustrate my questions, I would like to tell you a little true story. Once upon a time in real life there was a woman who disparaged my children and me. She went to great lengths to use the foulest words she possibly could. This went on for quite some period of time.
As the years went by, the woman suffered misfortune from which it seems no one on earth is exempt. Proverbs 24:17-18 instructs us in the following manner:
"Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;
Lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him,
And He turn away His wrath from him."
During this difficult time, I supported the woman and her family.
After several years had elapsed, my father passed away. Prior to his death, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He had also asked me to recite Psalm 23 before his casket was lowered into the earth.
Following the funeral service, my husband parked our car at the edge of the cemetery. I got out of the passenger seat and stood on the side of the road while I waited for him to join me. Seemingly out of nowhere, this woman rushed to our car, grabbed my hand and continued to hold it while we walked to the burial plot.
People express sympathy and condolences in many ways. While she could not bring herself to utter the words I am sorry or please forgive me, I am choosing to believe that by her actions she was trying to express the equivalent of the same. I deemed that she was at least trying to meet me half way, so to speak. And she literally did meet me half way from the parking spot to the burial spot.
The woman lingered for the longest time at the dinner following the graveside gathering. It was as if she wanted to say something, but could not bring herself to do so.
The revelation that a person's repentance can be expressed in actions as opposed to words didn't come to me all at once. It arrived in gradual degrees or increments just as the forgiveness process itself sometimes does. In their minds some people may feel that they can't quite fully trust you, which may be real or imagined. If they can't trust you, they are not going to say those three challenging words. The most important thing is to extend forgiveness and get on with your life. If another individual wants to keep you wrapped in the barb wire of his life, it's time to get out a pair of wire cutters and set yourself free. There could be some scarring in the process, however. It's time for another short illustration.
When I was in my mid 30's, I owned a sleek black Thoroughbred gelding named Blackjack. Prior to my acquiring him, he had run through a five strand barbed-wire fence as a colt. His chest bore massive scarring as a result. If we've experienced the cutting words, emotional insults and injuries, we will bear the scars as well, but are still able to live and function. Blackjack could run like there was no tomorrow, scars and all.
What does Jesus have to say about forgiveness? It's not an option. It's a command. In Matthew Chapter 6, He instructed His disciples accordingly during His Sermon on the Mount:
"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." [Matthew 6:14-15]
If you have a short story or testimony regarding this subject, I welcome your comments.
In the meantime, extend forgiveness, and keep the faith since we walk by faith and not by sight. [2 Corinthians 5:7]