I’ve gotten rather good at saying “I’m sorry“
Over the years I’ve had to learn an important phrase, and no – it’s not “Goodbye“- as is often rumored. These words have the power to free me of self-centeredness, breaks down barriers between myself and others, demolishes pride in a single blow, and it’s one of the hardest things to say genuinely… “I’m sorry.“
Of course, it’s easy to say, “I’m sorry, but…“, tossing the words about, but disarming them of any impact. “I’m sorry, but…” is merely an acknowledgment – at best – that you feel badly that someone else’s feelings were hurt, often – in our mind – unjustifiably so. “What I did by no means warranted how you feel, but it does make me feel badly that you feel badly.” Of course, that’s not actually an apology, no more than saying “Lord, Lord!” to Jesus actually acknowledges Him as such: His response to the empty words is “Away from me, I never knew you.” Such a pseudo-apology is, in reality, saying “I think how you feel is stupid.” I’ve said that a lot in my life, sadly. I’m sorry if you were on the receiving end of it.
There was a time that such was the best you’d get from me in following an argument: I mean, I am a very logical individual – I tend not to let things pass my lips unless I have considered and reconsidered them and know that they are – at least – fact, and at best – a case that could turn a losing court case in favor of a serial killer’s innocence.
I suppose this is one sign of God’s redemption in my life: I’ve gotten rather good at saying “I’m sorry“, comparatively. Here’s the key: there is ALWAYS something we can apologize for. I’m not perfect. None of us are. In every single interaction we’ve ever had we have made some infraction – no matter how small – that we can own. There’s no need to own something if there is no genuine conviction – no need to lie an in-genuine apology – because there’s always something legitimate that we can own up to. And acknowledging that with the words “I’m sorry” can tear down walls, and re-open genuine fellowship and communication.
So, lose the “but” – don’t disarm the words of what they are fully capable of. Let’s own our imperfection for the sake of true, authentic, fellowship. Every day is an opportunity to practice this: I ought to know…