Getting Comfortable with Apologizing
Good morning and happy Sunday dearest Reader!
Today we have our next installment of the ongoing Sunday Series, dedicated to heart, mind, and Spiritual topics. We've covered some serious ground in the past few months, and I just wanted to give you a short "thank you" for reading along, supporting me, and engaging with these ideas.
As usual, I came to my laptop unsure of what to talk about, but before I knew it, the words were spilling out. I know what I'm supposed to share with you all today and that is the topic of apologizing.
Yes. Apologizing! When I hear that word I immediately feel little pinpricks of nervousness: apologizing often isn't fun, glamorous, or something we particularly enjoy doing. At least I don't really like it.
But I think as with many things in life, oftentimes the things we hate doing, the things that humble us, and the things that are difficult, are the things we need to keep doing. Striving for virtue and character in this life means sacrificing our pride, needs, and wants on the REGULAR. Apologizing is another part of this growth journey.
The truth is that as much as it is painful, apologizing can actually benefit your life and jumpstart your journey towards humility, peace, and positive relationships.
But before we continue with this topic, I wanted to add a clarifying statement:
This post is specifically focused on apologies given when you hurt someone else, and you feel like you need to apologize.
We cannot apologize for things we don't know about, and we should not apologize when we are not truly sorry. True apologies and repentance remain null and void unless they are genuine. If you are going to say you're sorry but not truly mean it, you are better off not apologizing at all.
Furthermore, don't apologize just to squeeze an apology out of someone else.
We cannot offer apologies expecting one in return: our motivation for apologizing should be to right our wrongs, build our character, and show others that they are loved.
Check your motivation for apologizing. If you are only doing it to get one from someone else, you may need to reconsider.
Now I have to add that it isn't always a bad thing to feel like you don't need to apologize: there are people in this world who expect you to constantly apologize to them, even for things that you shouldn't. Trust your gut and the Holy Spirit to know when you SHOULD go and seek forgiveness, and when you are just feeling unnecessary shame.
Our Motivation for Apologizing
What if "They" don't apologize?
When I was a little kid, fresh off of a fight with one of my brothers, I remember looking at my mom and saying "if he's not sorry, I'm not sorry."
I think this little-kid-statement points to a greater truth: it's easier to admit our wrongs when other people are also admitting THEIR wrongs to us.
But unfortunately we will all experience the frustration of someone refusing to acknowledge their "part" in a conflict. Even worse, we may encounter people who even REJECT our apology, no matter how heartfelt we are.
But does this mean we should not apologize? Does it mean that person who rejects our apology doesn't "deserve" our apology?
The truth is that apologizing isn't only about the person you are seeking forgiveness from: it is about YOU. It is about your journey, your growth, and your character.
Apologizing is still worth it regardless of the other person's reaction. Even if they reject it, you can go in peace knowing you did the right thing.
The Blessings that Come with Apologizing
It Makes Us Humble
Apologizing draws us into true humility before others.
The act of acknowledging our faults and the hurts we have caused reminds us that we are imperfect humans. We are forced to remove ourselves from a place of lofty vanity and acknowledge our humanity and sinfulness.
Pride is demolished in the process of a willing acknowledgement of fault. When we tuck our tails, we are forced to adopt humility. But humility is not shame: it is an understanding of our humanity and flaws, not an obsession with our flaws or self-hatred.
Humility reminds us to not think of ourselves as better than others. It reminds us that we are imperfect, and allows us to take comfort in the fact that we don't have it all together. Humility eliminates the idea that we are above reproach, flaw, or sin.
In the process of apologizing and adopting a posture of humility, we will see our character grow.
Apologizing Brings Us Closer to Others
Have you ever met someone who NEVER apologizes?
Those type of people are the WORST! They are either unwilling to acknowledge their flaws, or have an uncontrollable desire to be "in the right."
There is no point in trying to go through life "in the right" all the time because that is impossible! I'm not always going to be right, I'm not always going to be good, and I know that I'm going to be wrong a lot!
When you become (more) comfortable with apologizing, you can begin to see that EVERYONE makes mistakes, and everyone has those days (thank you Hannah Montana for those great words.)
When we seek out reconciliation with others, we allow ourselves to be VULNERABLE before them. This vulnerability can often foster deeper relationships and connections than any amount of perfectionism ever would.
Although we should never expect a "return" apology, I have found that being willing to admit fault often helps other people admit fault as well.
In my own marriage, I have seen us both grow in humility and understanding of one another through our constant reconciliation. There is no better moment than when my husband forgives me for a hurt, and pulls me into a hug.
Apologizing & Our Faith
This is my last statement for this post, and it is for my Christian readers: (it is the Sunday Series after all.)
Apologizing is CENTRAL to our Christian faith. We cannot live without it.
Our faith teaches us to draw into a posture of repentance and humility before God, offering repentance, and taking hold of the forgiveness extended to us.
But we must practice apologizing to our brothers and sisters in Christ just as we apologize, repent, and seek reconciliation with our Father in Heaven
Do not seek out the forgiveness of God if you cannot also humbly seek out the forgiveness of your fellow brothers and sisters. We are to mirror to others what it is to be humble, compassionate, and loving.
Regularly going before the throne of God and seeking forgiveness should be a daily practice. Unlike humans, God will never reject your apology, turn you away, or laugh in your face.
He will always always always forgive your sins, even if you come to him for the thousandth time with the same thing.
Through this special relationship with Christ, we can discover true repentance and forgiveness. And as we experience that with God, let us also turn to one another on earth and try to right our wrongs.
Apologizing never gets easier: my cheeks turn red and I feel embarrassed and small. But there is nothing better than realizing that when we apologize to others, many of them are waiting with forgiveness and open arms.
Even if your apology is scoffed at or rejected, know that you did the right thing for YOU, and your journey. We cannot control other people, we can only control ourselves.
I hope you are encouraged today and have a blessed Sunday.