A few short phrases in life can move mountains, shape our destiny, and cure ills: “I love you.” “I’m sorry. “Dear God …” These few utterances spoken at various times can change minds and hearts everywhere. They are the essential words for experiencing a good life and are vitally important to us all.

Probably the first sentence we recall as a child was when our parents whispered, “I love you.” We thrive on love from the beginning to the end of our lives. Love is a blessing given to us, and we return it to those we feel deep abiding affection.

I have found that love never dies. One can feel profound appreciation for another long after they have gone away. When love wounds us, sometimes we wish to retaliate, return the hurt, and hold on to resentment. However, those actions only deepen the pain and inhibit us from moving on.

“Is it better to love and lose than to never love at all?” Of course.

When we cannot say “I’m sorry” to those we hurt, we need to rethink our thinking. Forgiveness is a two-way street. The good Lord explains that very clearly in the Bible when he says, “Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive those who sin against you; but if you refuse to forgive them, he will not forgive you.” Matthew 6:14

We learn as children, “I’m sorry” is challenging to say. Even when we know we did grievous wrongdoing, something within us hates to admit we erred. Sometimes, it is just denial or misplaced stubbornness, but boy, is it necessary. There is a multitude of problematic issues that could be solved by simply asking for forgiveness.

Harboring anger, guilt, and hatred only damages us. When we can’t forgive others or ask for forgiveness, we will never experience peace.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Theologian Lewis B. Smedes sure got that right!

Love and forgiveness go hand in hand — and they are supposed to. If you really think about it, can love flourish without mercy? The greatest love given to us was when God sent his son to show us the way. And, in the final hour of Christ’s life, the son asked his father, “Forgive them ...”

“Dear God ...” When we pray those words, we seek guidance, pardon, help, strength, and comfort. God hears our plea when we fall on our knees, and we are reminded that he is the center of life.

As humans, we can complicate the heck out of anything. We can make life a mess by the mistakes we make, the overthinking or underthinking we do, and the choices we make. We often put success, money, and even our politics above the quintessential fundamentals of life.

Years ago, when my oldest child was about 5, we were shopping in the local grocery store. Her baby brother was in the grocery cart, and her toddler sister held my hand as Amy tagged behind us. She was a bright precocious little girl with a headful of curls, and her dark brown eyes twinkled with a bit of mischief that I understood well.

I looked back toward her and noticed her chewing so much gum that she was drooling! “Where did you get all that gum?” I exclaimed in shock.

“I fount it.” She mumbled as she looked toward the ground.

“Just where did you ‘fount’ it?” I mockingly replied.

When her guilt began to spew forth in multitudes of bubbles, I knew she took it without permission from the shelf. She had opened the pack and stuffed all five pieces in her little mouth, thinking no one would notice.

“Well, Amy, after you spit out your thievery, we must go tell the manager what you have done.”

The manager was a big man (I mean huge). I made this downtrodden little girl go tell him the truth of her stealing ways. Let me say this, that child learned to say, “I’m sorry” very quickly, and I realized that love is teaching them how to do so. Later that night, Amy began to understand that it all is made better after she knelt beside her bed to say her prayers, “Dear God ...”

So, isn’t it true, all these words bind together to form life’s most crucial opening sentence: Dear God, I love you, and I’m sorry for ....

Lynn Gendusa of Roswell is the author of “It’s All Write with Me! Essays from my heart.” She can be reached at www.lynngendusa.com.

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