Confession. I’m a talker. In my excitement, sometimes I interrupt the person I’m talking with. I know it’s rude. I want to cut off the microphone in my mind to hear the courtesy in my heart.
I apologize for my social faux pas. But after so many times, ironically, my “sorry” must sound more like a courtesy than true contrition.
However, a well-crafted apology is significant when it is offered and when it is not.
This craft was a recent topic as Brady and I sat in the married couples class at our church. We were discussing the book When Sorry Is Not Enough by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas.
When the title was announced, I thought about my repeat offenses. I also considered when my ability to extend grace to others is shortened by my pain:
Because sometimes sorry is not enough.
Sure “sorry” works when the offense seems small like “I’m sorry, was this your seat?” or “I’m sorry your soup is cold.” But I must dig deeper when more is at stake. Especially when someone hurts someone I love or keeps repeating “I’m sorry” for the same offense.
The latter sounds familiar to the hypocrite in me.
This book shined a light that went heart deep. It also includes an assessment to help readers discover their apology language. My lingo is labeled “expressing regret.” Translation: If there’s no sign of a person’s regret, their “I’m sorry” rarely registers with me.
According to the book, other apology languages include: accepting responsibility, making restitution, genuinely repenting and requesting forgiveness.
Do you see your apology lingo on the list?
It may take a while to consider how contrition is best communicated to you. But our ability to say and accept “I’m sorry” greatly impacts the health of our relationships.
Otherwise, unaddressed offenses continue to sting and unforgiveness continues to divide.
And yet, if we’re waiting on an apology, it may take a while. Unstated remorse is often held at bay by pride and misunderstanding. Even once an apology arrives, we may still debate the sincerity of someone’s request for forgiveness.
But even if apology never arrives, I still have Christ’s example:
He died on the cross for my sin before I felt any remorse or made a confession. His sacrifice occurred before I knew how much I needed it. (Romans 5:8)
I want to love like Jesus. He maintains the divine balance of holding us accountable while making His grace accessible. However, if I can’t love someone who’s hurt or disappointed me, I’ll never know what true love is.
Our class was reminded of the importance of extending His grace. It may be easier to cling to for comfort rather than live by conviction.
Thankfully, “I’m sorry” said with sincerity is always enough for God. 2 Corinthians 7:10 states His apology language is repentance. It happens when His sorrow over our sin becomes our sorrow too.
Now this type of deep sorrow, godly sorrow, is not so much about regret; but it is about producing a change of mind and behavior that ultimately leads to salvation. But the other type of sorrow, worldly sorrow, often is fleeting and only brings death. – 2 Corinthians 7:10 NLT
As I seek to make a change, I also need to seek God’s forgiveness and rely on His power to keep the change. (1 John 1:9) Otherwise, guilt skips across my heart while frustration tears at my soul and my relationships.
But my soul was enlightened and encouraged by the time we ended our study. An apology is powerful. When we offer one, we own our missteps or our malice. But whether one is offered to us or not, we can still own the power of God’s grace. It’s always enough to bring hope for the heart and joy to the soul.
Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8 NLT
What are your thoughts on saying or receiving an apology? Enter a comment below (by Sunday, July 16 at 5:00pm EST) and enter into a drawing for the book, When Sorry Is Not Enough by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas. Only one entry per commenter. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, July 19.