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Beyond "I'm Sorry."

Like it or not, there will be times in our lives when apologies are necessary to bring restoration to a relationship we have strained. The key to a clean slate goes far beyond a simple "I'm sorry." Even a child understands that a quick muttering of the phrase can spare the consequent discipline.

Which of us hasn't received (or worse, given) an apology that was less than heartfelt? How often don't we try to retain our "honor" by minimizing the degree to which we hurt a person? Have you ever gotten the feeling that the offender isn't really sorry for what they did? That they're just using the word "sorry" in a sentence to get rid of their guilt? Can you catch it in each of these common apologies?

  • I'm sorry if I was wrong.
  • I'm sorry. I really wasn't trying to hurt you.
  • I'm sorry, but you were wrong too.
  • I'm sorry. I didn't realize you were so sensitive about that.

In each of these cases, the offender is not accepting full responsibility for their actions. The most effective apology is often the most difficult and certainly the least creative: "I was wrong when I... I'm so sorry. Will you please forgive me?"
Instead of justifying ourselves, we take down our barriers and make ourselves vulnerable to the person we're apologizing. When we humble ourselves by admitting we are wrong and request forgiveness, we will find the offended party tenderhearted, apt to forgive and equally desirous of restoration. Most often, people who realize you're in the relationship because you value you them more than you do yourself, will follow your lead and request forgiveness in the future when they offend you.
Sincere apologies are hard, but they must be made if we are to remain in sweet communion with our fellow saints in this fallen world. Be the kind of person that cares too much about another to let your own pride and momentary discomfort get in the way. Apologies open up the opportunity to forgive, and forgiveness preaches to the watching world the gospel of salvation from our sins through Jesus Christ.

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