February 24, 2009

Say you're sorry...

"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." Romans 12:18

This post was intended for February 14th. The dentist gave me an ice pack to hold on my face for Valentine's Day and blogging was the very last thing I wanted to do. Some Valentine, huh? So here I am, ten days later, wondering if you recognize the couple right over there to the left. If you do, I know how old you are—approximately.
;) If you don’t, you haven’t missed a thing—these two went and told the whole nation, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Puleeeeeeeeze! I've been married for almost thirty years now. I think I'm a little bit qualified to proclaim that those two words—I’m sorry—are absolutely vital to healthy relationships. And not just the married kindALL relationships—family, friends, neighbors, business associates, etc.

So what is an apology, anyhow? Well... let's first think about what an apology is not. An apology is not some kind of insincere, manipulative tool
for getting someone "off your back." i.e. "Okay, okay, OKAY! I'm sorry, alright? I'm SORRY!!!!!" Nor should an apology be used to introduce a hurtful comment, “I'm sorry, but I've just about had it with you!!!" To the contrary, an apology is a deliberate, heartfelt effort to right a wrong; it's taking responsibility for causing a breach within a relationship. Years ago, I wrote down an outline in the back of my Bible. Our pastor, concerned that his people know such life-enhancing character, was teaching us how to apologize. Here are those worthy notes, expounded upon by this blogger:

  • Be tenderhearted toward the offended, not proud. Humility is most important here—bathe yourself in it! Think about what you have done to offend this person, try to understand how he or she must feel.
  • Acknowledge the offense and identify the proper biblical behavior that would have been appropriate in the situation. “I’m sorry, I was wrong for charging that item on your credit card. I should've asked you first.” Okay, folks. This is only an example... Mary did not shop for hundreds of dollars worth of goods using her husband's credit card :o)
  • Seek forgiveness, not justification. “If you would have given me cash, I wouldn’t have taken your credit card.” Again, my friends, an example only... :o)
These are such simple principles, yet (because of pride) so difficult for human nature to endorse and practice. Over the years, I've received apologies and I've given apologies. And every single time those two sincerely spoken, simple wordsI’m sorrywere able to heal a hurting heart and fix a broken relationship. They generated forgiveness when forgiveness was needed. Those two wordsI’m sorrywhen genuine and coupled with the proper behavior, have power to restore and strengthen relationships. Say 'em when you need to...

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