Over the course of my life, God has taught me that I cannot control what others believe about me, or what they believe about my husband, or what they believe about anyone, for that matter! I can only control my response to what they say they believe. There are twelve powerful words that I have learned I can use in almost any situation regarding relationships. I don't know who first came up with this "formula," but I first heard it when my husband used it in one of his sermons. There have been many opportunities for me to witness the power of saying: I am sorry; I was wrong; Please forgive me; I love you. I've discovered that there are a myriad of ways to adapt these words so that they fit almost any situation. Here are just a few examples:
1. I’m sorry that I was so self-focused.
I was wrong to think only of my own needs.
Please forgive me for being so insensitive.
I love you and want you to be happy.
2. I’m sorry that our friendship was damaged.
I was wrong to hold a grudge against you.
Please forgive my selfish behavior.
I care about you and want God’s best for your life.
3. I’m sorry that I have to enforce this discipline on you.
I was wrong to have let your behavior continue to this point.
Please forgive me for not being tuned into what you were doing before now.
I love you and want to help you learn to live responsibly.
4. I’m sorry I have not lived up to your expectations.
I was wrong to let you believe that I could.
Please forgive me and accept that I have limitations.
I love you and promise to do all that I can to make you a successful person.
I have found tremendous power in these words, coupled with prayer -- even if the words never reach the person to whom they were directed! Sometimes just writing them out and praying for God’s strength has been enough for me to move forward when I have felt paralyzed by disappointment, resentment, betrayal, anger, etc.