Apologies and Forgiveness


Life is full of hard things.  We all experience them.  No one has it any easier than anyone else (though we try to convince ourselves that is the case if someone has more money, we consider them better looking, or what have you).

One of the most difficult things I have dealt with is apology.  Giving and accepting are both difficult.

There are many things that go in to apologizing.  I believe that to begin – we have to admit fault.  It seems like that is obvious, but when it comes to myself – admitting fault is sometimes hard.  Sometimes I don’t feel like things ARE my fault.  Other times, the fault that is mine – I’m not really sorry about.  But, coming to terms with blame and fault is probably step one in the process.

After we come to terms with our portion of the blame we need to be willing to go face to face and say we are sorry.  This takes a long time to learn.  I have always made my children apologize.  A preschool teacher told me once that she doesn’t bother making kids say sorry because the kids are not truly sorry or they’d apologize on their own.  I personally believe that giving a heartfelt apology is something that must be learned.  First, we learn the situations we are to say sorry in and how to accept blame and fault.  Then, we learn to be sincere in our apologies.  The realization that we have actually hurt someone with our words or actions isn’t always an immediate thing.  It’s something that I notice came with maturity in my own kids.

The flip side of that coin is learning to accept an apology.  That’s been more difficult for me than learning to apologize for something.  I find it easier to accept blame than to allow someone else off the hook for hurting me.

When someone comes to us and gives a sincere apology – they are generally seeking our forgiveness.  The act of forgiving tends to be more of a process for me.  I can accept an apology.  Sometimes I may feel stiff about it, but I can do it.  Forgiveness:  I can say “I forgive you”.  I have always forced my children to say that to each other in response to an apology.  But, after saying it – the rebuilding of trust and relationship has to happen to complete the forgiveness.  That, for me, is more difficult than going to someone and groveling out an apology (though I admit both are difficult).

I am so thankful that Jesus forgives me every time and throws my sins away and doesn’t remember them.  I want to be like that/do that.  Until I get to that point – I will have to continue to ask people to forgive me and I’ll have to learn to accept and forgive those who have hurt me.

One of my favorite scenes from Anne of Green Gables – her begging forgiveness from Mrs. Lynde.

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