My final blog for the 10-day blogging challenge is inspired by a conversation I was privy to. While the details of the conversation are not important, what is important and what was a clear reminder for me is that in life we all must learn the importance of an apology. Apology is defined as, “a regretful acknowledgment of an offense or failure” and consists of three simple words, ‘I am sorry.’ But if they are so simple, why do so many of us struggle with saying them? Are we afraid to admit that we have offended someone? Are we so proud and arrogant that we feel regardless of whether or not the person was offended what we spoke was “the truth?” Whatever the reasoning, we cannot simply go through life without ever learning the art of apologizing.
“To err is human” ~ Alexander Pope
At some point on this journey called life we will have to apologize for something. Whether it be to a colleague, a customer, a family member, business associate, friend, or partner; we will all have to apologize for something. Why? Because if you are like me you will find that there are times when you will stick your proverbial foot in your mouth and wish you could take back something you said (or did).
‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue’ ~ Proverbs 18:21
Unfortunately, once the words have been spoken into the atmosphere there is no taking it back and whatever damage it’s going to do has already been done. This brings me to another lesson I learned this week; pause before speaking. ‘……Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). However, a sign of growth is when we are able to see that we have made a mistake and do what is necessary to correct our wrong. This is not only a good thing; it also keeps us humble and less prideful.
So what are some key elements of a good apology? Well for starters, be sincere. Please do not apologize haphazardly or with the feeling like you are doing the other person a favor. Also, don’t wait too long before apologizing. The sooner the apology is rendered, the quicker the relationship can move towards healing. Granted there are some situations where an immediate apology may not be possible. But if it is, please do so as quickly as possible. Third, take complete responsibility for what you did. Even if both parties were wrong, take responsibility for the part that you played in the mishap. You know the saying forgiveness isn’t for the other person it’s for you? Well the same holds true for an apology. Don’t waste precious time arguing over who was right or who was wrong. Apologize for the crazy part that you played and move on, if for no other reason than to clear your heart and conscious. And finally, acknowledge that what you said or did hurt the other person and ask for their forgiveness.
Now I know someone reading this blog right now is saying, “well what if the person does not accept the apology?” I’m glad you asked. If you find yourself in this predicament remember, just like forgiveness is not for the other person, but you….so is an apology. Not only does apologizing clear your heart and conscious, it is also the right thing to do when you know you have done something wrong. Knowing you have done your part in the reconciliation process will free you in the most unimaginable ways.
‘So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.’ ~ Matthew 5:23-24
“To err is human; to forgive, divine” (Alexander Pope). My ability to forgive and to apologize comes only from the strength of God. Because I know all of the horrible sins that He has forgiven me for, I remind myself daily that there is no way I can expect God to forgive me when I refuse to forgive my husband, friend, family member, etc. I also know that the same Mercy and Compassion that God shows me which gives me leeway when I do mess up, I must extend to others. The bottom line for me is what is more important, “Being right, or being happy?”