The richest relationships are not only lifeboats but they are also submarines…
In any relationship of depth and significance—forgive, forgive, and forgive. And then forgive again.
I’ve not always been the forgiving type and I’ve had to learn how to really apologize—it’s one of the hardest things if you weren’t raised in an environment that taught and practiced it. At first, you feel like you have to give a piece of yourself and bend your ego and in effect yourself. But then when you have a gentle person you can practice it with, you learn that it’s in fact the opposite — you have this beautiful opportunity to actually reclaim a piece of yourself and strengthen your ego.
You begin to grow in grace for others and for yourself. You begin to see how your hurts cause you to react and overreact and how others do the same. When you begin to settle into humbleness enough to apologize quickly and sincerely, you deepen strength and connection with those who matter.
You also realize that there are some relationships that forgiveness can’t heal because they are not accepting of your forgiveness nor able to ask for forgiveness. There’s nothing to do but build healthy boundaries for yourself and leave distance with them in their misery. You hurt for those relationships but there’s nothing more to be done until they are ready for the deeper work.
Over the years I’ve seen how forgiveness has softened my heart towards others and in myself, as well as deepened my respect and trust in my healthy relationships. I’ve been able to see how those who apologize to me sincerely and immediately garner my respect. That respect comes from seeing that when we truly apologize, we are essentially turning from that behavior and promising to educate ourselves to do better. The respect that grows for others also motivates you to do the same in wanting to make quick amends in return.
The richest relationships are not only lifeboats but they are also submarines that descend to the darkest and most disconcerting places within us, to the trenches where our deepest shames and vulnerabilities live—where we are less than we would like to be. When we allow someone to this place, we invite an intimate connection that is harder to break.
I know my longest friendships and relationships are those that will sit down and duke it out with one another to true resolution. Each time we’ve both chose to willingly go through these submarine moments, we’ve fortified our relationship and the need to go into our trenches occurs less often.
Forgiveness is the magic place by which the shame transforms into the honor and privilege of being invited into another’s darkness and having them witness your own with the undimmed light of love, of sympathy, of nonjudgmental understanding. Forgiveness is the engine of buoyancy that keeps the submarine rising again and again toward the light, so that it may become a lifeboat once more.
Who are the submarines and lifeboats in your life?
I’m beyond grateful to have so many.