I’m going to start on something totally unrelated to this post but I want to share anyway because so many of you are commenting or messaging things like “Don’t stop writing. Where are you? and Keep posting.” While I find this somewhat humorous, I also appreciate these comments deeply!! Writing is taking the back-burner lately because I’ve been working mornings and honestly, it depresses me. But! I think my schedule is changing up after this week so hopefully I can share so much more of my heart here again.
Anyway! On to the more important issue beating in my chest. Apologies.
Our society talks about apologizing a lot. Just turn on the news an you’ll see daily people who need to apologize to others for something they have said or done that wasn’t politically correct, went against someone’s beliefs, hurt someone’s feelings, or was just a dumb comment that flew out of their mouth at the wrong time.
And we teach apologizing to our kids on a daily basis as well. “You hit your brother? Did you say you’re sorry?” We want our kids to understand that when they hurt others, verbally or physically, they need to apologize.
But what is apologizing anyway? Webster says Apologize means “to express regret for something that one has done wrong.”
I don’t think we always use Webster’s definition in our interactions with others. And frankly it falls flat anyway.
I think people apologize all the time without really being regretful. When my kids say they’re sorry for calling their sibling a name, they rarely mean it. In fact, you could likely catch them saying “Sorry…..” and then under their breath as they walk away mumbling “tattle tale”.
It’s not hard to tell when someone apologizes to you if they truly regret what they have done. If they are hurting, remorseful, and genuinely broken for their actions or words, or if they’re saying sorry because they got caught or think they have to do it.
But I’m going to tell you something. Sometimes even a real heartfelt and honest apology still isn’t enough to bring healing.
We like to believe it is. And we even teach our kids that it is. And we expect it to be when we’re the ones on the apologizing end of things. But in those moments when we’re on the receiving end of an apology, if we’re honest – sometimes it’s just not enough.
I personally think that apologizing has lost it’s importance today. We tell everyone to do it without really understanding or meaning what we’re doing. I believe at the core, apologizing to humans should reflect the heart of how we interact with our heavenly father when we need to confess our sins with remorse and repentance. If someone is shattered over their actions, confessing them to the Lord and actively making a sharp turn away from those sins, not only in that very moment is there immediate and complete forgiveness from the Father – but it’s the truest form of apologizing in existence.
It’s really that complicated and simple all at once.
It’s complicated because we don’t apologize and forgive in this way. Humans are humans and it’s beyond us to operate like this. We want answers, justice, retaliation, and usually separation. We think very highly of ourselves and very lowly of Satan. We are repulsed by our wounds and place sharp blame on the human(s) who caused this pain. We forget all about our feebile condition, sinful nature and the sneaky serpent who comes to lie, steal and destroy. This kind of instant, complete forgiveness is foreign and unfathomable and it keeps people from the cross. They can’t believe God can forgive like this because we can’t on our own.
And yet it’s that easy. It’s a confessing and turning away that leads to freedom, love, redemption, eternal life, the fulfillment of every ache in our body. We’re clean, whole, and deeply loved in an instant. If only we could take that taste of our very own forgiveness on our tongue from the Father and give it to ourselves and to each other in this way – it’d be a whole new world in one day.
It’s paralyzing to be the one offering the shattered pieces of yourself to someone with repentance and know that you’re hanging in the balance of what their human body can physically handle by means of forgiveness.
There are no words. There may be a flood of tears, but even those are helpless to heal the ache in someone else we’ve hurt. There’s no judgment pouring from us either, for surely we know what we’ve done, what we deserve, and that we probably wouldn’t offer Christ-like forgiveness instantly either. And yet we feel nothing but brokenness.
So what can we do? How do we keep living?
If you’re buried in regret today and it’s suffocating the life right out of you, please be encouraged that our Savior’s forgiveness and acceptance is not leashed under the rules of this fallen world and our fallen human condition. It’s real, immediate, and all we truly need to walk in freedom. And as for that person (those people) who you just can’t heal with “I’m sorry”, just keep praying for them. You can’t make it go away. You can’t bring justice or right any wrongs. But Jesus can. Let that hurt motivate you to lay them before the cross every single day a million times a day knowing that even if that relationship is never restored, you’re free to love them and lift them up in name of the Healer. Be willing to just give them to Jesus. Even if you lose them. That’s when you’ll know you’ve truly apologized beyond Webster’s definition of just expressing regret; when you care more about them and their healing than you do yourself. And Jesus will make you whole again too. Just don’t take your eyes off Him for anything. Especially to entertain that nasty devil who wants you to stay bloody and broken. Don’t look back.