Years ago I learned in a seminar the importance of asking forgiveness in a specific way. Most of us were taught to say, “I’m sorry,” even from an early age. When I learned this different way to seek forgiveness, it made sense and I have used and taught it ever since.
When we hurt someone, it helps to say, “I was wrong about _________. Will you forgive me?’’ This helps in two ways: First, I have to put aside pride to say I was wrong. That is the hard part. Second, the person can give a yes or no answer. When we just say, “I’m sorry,” the other person has no response other than perhaps, “Oh, that’s okay.” But it is not okay. When the offended one says, “yes “to the question, harmony is restored.
Since this question is a yes or no question, sometimes the person is not ready to forgive and says, “no” or “not right now.” But when they know the question was humbly asked, the offended one most always comes back later with a “yes.” Again harmony is restored.
We have taught this as young as two and it becomes a habit. In the family I live with, it warms my heart to see the children asking each other for forgivenss after a spat, many times without a reminder.
The most interesting thing about this question is to watch the pride rise up occasionally when we remind children that they didn’t ask the question–and to feel the pride in our own heart when we know we have to ask the question instead of just saying, “I’m sorry.”
When Chris (my daughter-in-law) hears an “I’m sorry, Mommy,” from one of her girls, she stays very quiet. Sometimes she will hear the “I’m sorry,” two or three times before the little voice changes to, “Will you forgive me?”