My recent life at Kick London has been all about mentoring. Mentoring is an area we as a charity have stepped up a lot in recent times, and it is possibly the way we see the most direct impact and transformation among the young people we work with.
The role of the mentor is to share wisdom beyond the years of the mentee, to empathise with the situation, and explain what solutions could be used to bring about a more desirable outcome for the mentee.
I find the issue I have been working on with my mentee’s recently, is the issues of conflict resolution, and ability to say sorry, and learning how to forgive others.
I have found the opposition to some of these is the idea that an apology must be given, before the young person can lavish their foe in forgiveness. But the question I often ask them (and possibly ask you, if you are currently going through a conflict), is “Do you need an apology to forgive?”
One of the hardest thing in life is expressing to someone that they have hurt you, but they either don’t acknowledge that you’re actually upset, blow your concerns off because “It was only banter!”, or flat out don’t care about your feelings. None of these situation’s feel particularly nice!
A great sporting example of this, was in the Italian league, where Sully Muntari was racially abused by an opponent. When Muntari complained to the official of the racist abuse, Muntari was booked, and when he left the field of play in protest, was sent off. Muntari later had his ban overturned, but admitted his was made to feel like a criminal for being a victim of racism.
In the context of this blog, should Muntari expect an apology from the player who abused him? The referee who sent him off? The manager (who effectively told him to toughen up and get on with it)? The Italian FA who turned a blind eye? In each of these instances, no. Probably not. But should Muntari forgive them? And the answer is yes, he should.
There are very few things in the world that upset me as much as racism. There are a few I would put on a par with it, or maybe slightly more serious, but this blog may take a dark turn if I started listing those! Alas, I consider racism (both in and out of football) one of the most vile actions in the world. However, if victim’s of racism were to carry the burden of hatred and grudge against those who have abused them, they too would become very heavily burdened and possibly even depressed.
We must remember, that as we forgive (and now I am talking generally about any abuse or hurt, not just racism), we are forgiving for the sake of our own health, our own mental well being, our own spirit and soul. We also may have to forgive those we love for the times they have hurt us (and it hurts more when the pain is caused by a loved one), because we value the relationship with that person more than the argument or our own point of view.
Ultimately though, we must view our own hurt through the eyes of God. For each time we feel we have been abused, hurt, or sinned against, we must consider the times we have fallen short of the glory of God. Our own abuses and mistakes towards him. The God of the Bible is a God who lavishes forgiveness selflessly, abundantly, and endlessly. A God who would sacrifice His own perfect Son, to give us an eternal forgiveness.
Colossians 3:12-13 says:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
As you read this now, you may be struggling to forgive someone who has hurt you. Remember:
- Forgiveness is for you, not for them.
- Forgiveness is valuing your relationship above your argument.
- Forgive others as God has forgiven you.