“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ Luke 15:21
“A stiff apology is a second insult… The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.” G.K. Chesterson
I have a pretty tough apology to make this week. I will confess to you that I do not want to have to do it. The more I think about it, the more my sinful mind begins thinking other thoughts…alternative thoughts…thoughts of deflecting the fault to someone else, or even of feigning my own “hurt” from the situation in an attempt to distract from my fault. Do you ever have those kinds of conversations in your head?
My Dad called it “Loser’s Limp”. I was about 10 years old. I was the second-string quarterback of the Bellaire Panthers Pop Warner football team. I was running plays with the second-string offense against our very formidable first-string defense. I called a simple running play in the huddle, came to the line, called for the snap, and proceeded to turn the wrong direction to hand-off the ball. It was a busted play and I got smeared all over the field by our entire defense. I was the last to get up. I was humiliated, and maybe just a little bit injured. Maybe. I did not want to face my coach, so I slowly but emphatically limped off the field, hoping everyone would forget my mistake and just feel sorry for me and my injury (which was growing worse and worse in my mind). I got to the sidelines and met Dad’s gaze. He was giving me the disappointed look (I didn’t …
Tuesday re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.
(Read this post in connection with this previous post on Learning to Say, “Ouch”. They belong together, because that is what happens in reconciliation. )
Remember when your little brother did something really mean and hateful to you or to your stuff and you “told on him”? And remember how your mom grabbed him by the ear and dragged him over to you and literally forced him to say the words “I’m sorry” under threat of some unspeakably horrible punishment? Do you remember how you felt after that happened?
WAIT! …o.k., you felt like you got your revenge and you enjoyed seeing him nearly get his entire ear ripped off the side of his head…but what about the apology? Did it make you feel reconciled to him?
Of course it didn’t. Because that is about as poor as apologies get in terms of actually bringing any healing to a situation. But what if you could actually learn to express regret in a way that adds value to a relationship? After all, feeling genuine regret in your heart is one thing, but learning to express it in a way which heals a broken relationship is another thing altogether. If there were some practical things to learn, some skills to perfect in terms of communication, some things that would help you make a positive difference in your relationships, would it be worth your while to learn them?
We have an amazing example of the kind of apology that brings healing in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son (Luke 11:21). Using the prodigal’s apology as a kind of model, here are some things we learn about how to express regret in a relationship:…