How to Forgive When You’ve Been Left Out

Do you find that you become offended often?  Are you constantly sharing your negative experiences with those close to you?

After hearing a great sermon on this subject recently, I was thinking about how forgiveness impacts my own life.  For me, the offense is literally the same as unforgiveness. When you become offended, you let that unforgiveness remain in your heart toward that person or group that did the offending.

Recently, I observed another person receiving an opportunity to do something that (I thought), I should have been asked to do.  I didn’t know the reason why this person was chosen, nor was it appropriate to ask at that time.  The thought that I was passed over for this opportunity kept lingering in my mind.  Finally, I had to take an emotional inventory and decide what to do with my feelings about the matter.

Looking back at the experience, I’ve identified a few questions that helped me to forgive.  This is not an all-inclusive list and everyone’s experience is different.

1. Did you make your expectations known?

In my experience, the person making the decision probably had no knowledge of my desire for the opportunity.

If I’m the only person that is offended, then is it possible that my expectations were incorrect?  Most offense happens when your expectations are not met in a situation. You wanted this, they wanted that.  When you understood what they wanted, you quickly allow someone else to have their way and then become bitter and hold onto that offense.

2. Address the issue privately

When the situation is over-and-done-with, then perhaps its best to move on.  Or (depending on how passionate you are about the issue) have a talk with that person letting them know about your expectations and seek to understand their choice. Do this in a private setting. Don’t be afraid to share how you feel.

3. Forgive quickly

When you’re alone, speak out loud to yourself, I forgive ________.  Then think about a few things that you appreciate about that person.  Focus on the good, not on the offense.  You’ll continue to think about it unless you replace that negative emotion with something positive. Forcing yourself to appreciate the person may help toward completely forgiving them and moving on.

4. Decide for next time

Managing expectations is a skill that we often discount.  Going to your leader ahead of time and discussing your goals for your role may go a long way toward gaining the opportunities you’re looking for.