Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Two Words, Twice a Day

"I'm sorry."

Part of raising children is teaching them to make a sincere apology.  There are two parts to this lesson.  The first is getting them to say it, the second is getting them to mean it.  The first part is usually the easier of the two, because of simple immaturity.  I remember many instances where my parents required me to make confession and express repentance for my offense towards my brother or sister.  No doubt their hope was that I would grow towards a deep and personal desire to do all I could to make amends for my wrongs.  I was far more deviant than they realized.

To this day I find apologizes, well... difficult.

(Aside:  As a happily married woman who enjoys a close and loving relationship with my husband, I maintain a continual mental consciousness of his listening in to my every word, whether he is actually present or not.  He is currently laughing his head off at my previous understatement.)

So I haven't yet arrived at a place where admissions come smoothly to my lips.  (Now the kids are joining in on the chuckling.  I cast them a glance meant to wither.)

Ok, I'm just plain bad at it.  As I've matured, the two parts have flipped so that I find more often I have a desire to apologize, but the harder part is in saying it.  I suppose holiness is experiencing both aspects fully and completely.

BUT it is my goal.  Not because I enjoy it, clearly, but because I am called to it. Forgiveness is the fulcrum whereby guilt and blame can be lifted and flow downward to reparations and restitution.

The world works against our success in this area.  Mistakes happen in life, and an apology goes a long way towards smoothing things over and getting us back on our way to where we mean to be, but eventually we all learn the game of jaded thinking that dominates the field out there.  And we often learn to play it.

You would think that in the public arena of service the benefit of honest acknowledgments might be understood.  However, I have noticed that more often than not, in public transactions a representative seems almost set against saying those two little words.  Recently, our microwave door needed to be replaced.  I won't go into the long drawn-out story, but the short end of it was that an entire month went by and the responsible party not only did not respond to any of our calls, but never even ordered the part.  We eventually got our door, but we never heard a word of apology from them.

Flipping through my insurance police, I see that I am advised not to say it in the event of any altercation.  Any expressions of regret or sorrow at a time of accident could be misused as an admission of guilt and responsibility.  How awful that we must be so on our guard.  I know this sounds Polly-Anna-ish of me, and far from my own personal side-steps away from honest appraisal.  But it all rings so brassy.  We live in a world not of integrity, but of chess.  Always be looking, thinking, and acting two steps before the other guy.

Around the beginning of the year I read a wonderful book titled Margin.  I'd really like to read this book at the beginning of every year from now on.  There is so much wisdom to be gathered from it, I will need to revisit the ideas and suggestions here over and over again.  One of the recommendations made was to seek to apologize twice a day.  This blows my mind.  I concede, this is up there in the farthest, thinnest, airy reaches of the stratosphere for me.  It's difficult to even conceptualize what this would look like, nevermind feel like for me.  BUT, ah, what a vision to contemplate.

My Savior embodies Forgiveness; inasmuch as I am His, let it begin with me between myself and my brother or sister.  May my prayer be 'Twice a day and more'; and may my children find comfort and encouragement in knowing that their mama is still working on the difficult but important lessons I am teaching.

Shared with Titus 2sday, Works For Me Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday


  1. How is it that you always know what to post about when I most need it? This has always been something difficult for me as well. I find it easier by practicing with my children. They forgive so easily. And since I work so hard with them, as you do, in teaching them how to forgive and mean it, it's always a good place to start. The HARDEST part, is, for all of us, to apologize without caveat. You know, "I'm sorry, BUT...(insert justification here)." I had this conversation last night. Apologizing in this manner instead; "I'm sorry I spoke to you that way. I should have said it more kindly." Instead of "I'm sorry I spoke to you that way, but you did bla bla bla." This is what I'm working on. I told Phil last night, an apology is negated by justifying your behavior in the next sentence. So I will keep working on it. It's humbling, and that is good. I posted about that last night too lol. "Pride is a bitter pill to swallow. Humble pie is so much sweeter."

    1. I'm glad my post struck a familiar nerve and it's not just me. You're spot on about the difficulty of apologizing without tagging on our excuses for our behavior - so, so hard!

      In the trenches with you, my girl...

  2. What's that line? "You preach best what you need to hear most"?

    I've heard that asking for forgiveness is supposed to be uncomfortable, because letting the injured person smooth it over lets the wrongdoer off the hook. Asking for forgiveness is even tougher than admitting guilt because it's a question that hangs in the air with the possibility of rejection. But who knows.

    1. Yes, we do let the wrong-doer off the hook, so to speak, but (and here's a bit of my vindictive satisfaction seeking) we hand them over to the ultimate judge. And He lets us off the hook, but by paying the price for us. What we relinquish in our exchanges with one another is the right to payback.

      I have an easier time with that, believe it or not, than being the one who asks to be let off. Not necessarily because of a fear of rejection, but more for my hold on my stubborn pride.

  3. why is is so hard to just blurt it out???
    blessings as you learn -