There are few moments more awkward in a relationship than those in which we are completely and utterly wrong. And yet, without exception, we are going to have them…and way more often than we would like to. We are human, thus predisposed to screwing up – some of us more spectacularly than others.
Hebrews 12: 14-15 – Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
So, if we know it happens, and we accept that it’s part of the human condition, why is it so hard to open our mouths with a genuine apology and ask the person on the receiving end of our blunder for forgiveness?
1. We have to realize, and then acknowledge that we are wrong.
Well, this is just no fun at all. It’s hard to screw up, and even harder to admit it to ourselves, much less another person. This gets especially sticky if we’ve spent time and energy arguing our point
2. It’s embarrassing
I don’t know about you, but I’m a “go big or go home” kind of gal. More often than not, when I have the greatest need to apologize it’s because I have managed to pull off a whopper of a stunt. This generally involves: completely missing the point in a situation, opening my mouth before thinking or when I should have kept it shut, not knowing both sides of the story, shaming another person, looking like a fool, or a myriad of fun combinations of the previous.
3. We’re often angry
Most arguments between individuals happen when one or both of them are angry – and in the few that don’t, as the discussion continues someone eventually ends up ticked off. It’s pretty much impossible to apologize in a haze of outrage.
4. We don’t want to put our pride aside
This is a big one, isn’t it? There is a tremendous amount of humility involved in asking forgiveness: it puts the other person in a place of power (at least in our minds), and often feels like we are minimizing our point of view. Guess what? If you need to legitimately make amends for your words and/or actions, your two cents worth is not the point at all.
Asking for forgiveness, when done from a heart that is truly repentant, puts the other person at the focus….not you.
It admits wrongdoing, and opens the way for dialogue, reconciliation and new understanding. It implies a desire to do better and not repeat the same mistake again. And, perhaps most significantly, it communicates to that person that they are important to you – even more than your pride, or need to be right.
On the flip side……
If we are capable of botching things, so is our neighbor (sibling, friend, spouse, co-worker, acquaintance, parent, child, etc). And as we expend the effort to apologize, hoping to be forgiven, we feel we deserve a second chance….and so do they.
Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Forgiveness is a two-way street. Ideally, both parties are involved…and genuine.
When we sincerely love another person, the relationship between us is more important than anything else…and this creates a willingness to work things out with patience and flexibility.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-5 – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (emphasis mine)
I have an anecdote from early in my dating relationship with my husband. I had upset him in a certain situation…to be honest, neither of us remembers what it was. The thing that stood out to me was how surprising his reaction was. My fun-loving, type B, laid back boyfriend could not let it go. I must have apologized six or seven times over a two week period, and he would either mumble something, shrug, or ignore the apology…then bring it up again later. It drove me nuts! Finally, one day I had enough.
“What do you want from me?!?!” I exploded, “Should I throw myself under your truck?”
Granted, that may have been a bit of a dramatic overstatement. Apparently, my combat style is to fight melodrama with melodrama.
Even so, the point was taken. It’s one of our
fondest more vivid memories, and taught us a lot about resolving issues with each other. It takes patience, acceptance, and more than a little humor.
Do you have a hard time with this concept? What is more difficult for you: apologizing or accepting an apology? Why do you think this is?
Think about the last time you had to say I’m sorry. What was the hardest thing about it? How did it go?
Think about the last time you were asked for forgiveness. Was it easy or difficult to forgive the other person? Why?
Consider someone in your life who is good about making amends. What are some ways they interact in situations requiring an apology (or acceptance of one)? Do they exemplify love in these situations? How?
People are flawed. You are flawed (sorry if this is a news flash…you’re still lovable, trust me). The less we fight the need to make amends, the less intensely we’ll fight with each other. And the less vehemently we fight with each other, the quicker we “hug it out”, the stronger our relationships become.
In the timeless words of The Hokey Pokey: “That’s what it’s all about.”
Solidarity, sisters. Let it go