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Cynthia A. Buhain-Baello

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Going Beyond Sorry
By Cynthia A. Buhain-Baello   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Monday, January 21, 2008
Posted: Tuesday, September 25, 2007

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The true meaning behind the words "I'm sorry" and what is required of the person saying it.

Going Beyond "Sorry"
Cynthia Buhain-Baello

The Bible teaches us "to forgive those who trespass against us" in order that we ourselves may be forgiven. But in the reality of daily life and with our constant dose of offenses from people around us, forgiving is much harder to do and hearing the words "sorry" does not have much meaning for us anymore.

Unconditional forgiveness was what Jesus Christ gave to those around Him at the cross of Calvary, and it covered even the Roman soldiers and the jeering crowd. Evidently, the Son of God forgave the offenders even when
they did not express their being sorry
for their actions. This ultimate forgiveness, however, cannot be undertaken today without the probability of it being abused and the final result would then be either tolerance or compromise.

For forgiveness to happen, there
must be remorse, repentance, and a firm resolve not to repeat the offense.

The Victim of Offense

The ease with which a person releases the offense depends upon its gravity and frequency. Saying "sorry" after acts of grave physical injury or violent attacks upon another person does not really reflect the offender's credibility.

A husband who says "sorry" after beating up his wife does not really mean what he's saying. Even an abusive parent can say "sorry" to an injured child without really understanding the meaning behind those words.

What gives the word truth and credibility?

A person who is really sorry for what he has done has the full intention of not doing the harm again. He willfully- by choice of mind and emotion- decides not to repeat his offense because he is really "sorry". This is called "repentance". It is the 360 degree turn AWAY from the action that causes the offense. Without this decisive action on the part of the offender, his "I'm sorry" becomes just empty rhetoric.

A television preacher once said,
"Forgiveness without demanding CHANGE is compromise." To continually forgive a person who repeatedly does the wrong thing would be accepting it as right.
Ignoring the problem by constant forgiveness 'for the sake of peace' is inviting abuse and in the end this becomes self-destructive.

Forgiveness cannot be earned either by shallow tears and acts of goodwill after the offense. Genuine repentance eliminates repetition of the wrong done. There must be evident and decisive change in the offender to merit forgiveness.

A year ago, I was relieved of this situation when the person who inflicted so much pain and harm to me and my children finally left us. Before this, I followed the teaching on forgiveness as I learned it from the Bible. But after repeated offenses and callous disregard for us as a family I had to be firm in requiring "change". Not to demand this would be allowing the person to erode my own character with the wrong he is doing. It required tough love on my part.

It was not easy to forgive-that takes time-but letting go of the pain and the hurt was the first step. He never said "sorry" but his decision to leave meant he no longer wanted to hurt us. It could be he got tired of the process or he realized he was not getting the same reaction from me anymore.

My reaction to his offenses? Silent defiance. It used to be a cycle of angry words between us but I decided not to engage in it anymore. The best reaction to an offense whether by word or action is to not let it destroy you as a person. Many times I had to assert mentally that God loves me, that He has a plan for me, and that I am His treasured possession. That released me from the "trap" of abusive language and my self-worth was regained.

Although no "sorry" words came from that person, I developed a greater sense of appreciation when someone sincerely utters those words. For me it carries with it the person's decision to change for the better and his intent not to repeat what he has done because he cares.

Why the Need for Change - the Offender

Jesus Christ forgave the adulterous woman but admonished her to "leave your life of sin."

Also in forgiving the man at the pool, in John 5:14, Jesus told him "Now you are well, go and sin no more or something worse will happen to you."
This meant that the person was forgiven but it required a turn-around on his part.

Notice that Jesus told them to change, because continuously hurting other people eventually destroys the offender. "There is no peace," says my God, "for the wicked." (Isaiah 57:21

Freedom for the Offender

When a person resolves not to cause emotional or physical hurt upon another, he releases himself from his own prison of hate and anger.

Most people who hurt others are themselves suffering from inner turmoil.
"But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud." (Isaiah 57:20}

Being truly sorry is going beyond the words "sorry" because the key opens the door to God's peace. The offender
encounters the Giver of forgiveness
and receives the only Source of peace -
" I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the spirit of the contrite." (Isaiah 57:15)

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Reviewed by Richard Orey 6/11/2008
"Going Beyond Sorry" is an outstanding essay on the full cycle of "sorry" and "forgiveness." One simply cannot read and absorb this message without coming away with a deep new understanding.

Much too often in our society we hear the contrite conversation
"Oh, sorry about that. Okay?"

I would hope that we all take with us the necessity of not only saying the words "I'm sorry" but all that goes with it, and that the wounded person will not be so quick to utter the "Okay" response but will demand that to be forgiven the trespasser must not only be sincere but commit to change. Anything less is an endorsement of their wrongdoing and a license to repeat the trespass.

It's troubling to me to note that though this insightful article was posted over eight months ago, I'm only the second person to take the time to comment. That's saddening.

You certainly did your part, Cynthia. Very well done!


Reviewed by Donna DeVane 1/6/2008
Forgiveness is so powerful and sets us free.
Thank you.

From Eulogy To Joy, An Anthology, compiled by Cynthia Kuhn Beischel wi by Maryanne Raphael

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