I am thinking about apologies today. I have been wondering why apologize. Because our parents forced us to say we were sorry even though we were not? We were taught to apologize when were caught doing something our parental unit decided was wrong.
I googled apology. I found an interesting list of things pertaining to apology. For instance, How to Apologize. It lists four steps: 1. Express Remorse, 2. Admit responsibility, 3. Make Amends, 4. Promise to not do it again. I find these steps interesting because it places everything on the offender.
What if the offender does not realize they have offended? Should you, the offended, reach out and tell them they have offended you? To what purpose? To get an apology? To make them feel remorse? Do you really need an apology that is not an immediate reaction, an immediate taking responsibility of their actions?
Personally, I do not need a forced apology. It accomplishes nothing for me. I can forgive the offender without one. I can move on with the relationship without one. An apology does not make the offended be less offended. No time spent in prayer accomplishes more than an apology.
But in the steps above, step four really gets to me. The promise to not do it again, really? Can you really make that promise and keep it? I have a repeat offender in my life. Fortunately, they have never made that promise. However, when I think of how I am offended by people and I think of the apologies that never happened. Would they have apologized, could they have really kept that promise? No, I don’t think so.
So, what is the real purpose of an apology? I think it is a heart issue. I think that we need the apology to cleanse our heart. It is like a confession of sin. We are called to confess our sin to God. God will forgive us, but we need the confession to understand the wrong we committed. And that is what an apology does. It is not for the offended, but for the offender.
Confrontation to extract an apology to make you, the offended, feel better will accomplish only getting the apology. It will not make you feel better. But a heart-felt, unsolicited apology will restore both hearts (the one offended but also the one that has offended). Restoration of a relationship can happen without an apology; however, trust is weakened without an apology.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
Forgiveness is given like a gift; it is undeserved and unwarranted. It is not free either. It requires work daily, not from the offender, but from the offended. An apology does not help us “get over” whatever happened, forgiveness does. That is where I find myself, seeking to forgive. Where do you find yourself?