All day I have been thinking about these words. The other day I ran into someone who I have known for a long time, but don’t talk to very often. In fact, it has been quite a while. Do you know the type? The person you knew a long time ago and were actually pretty good friends with; then for whatever reason lost touch with and years later, reconnect with; thanks to the internet and social networking.
I’m sorry. Every time I talk to this person I want to say that, and yet, I never do.
I would like to think of myself as a nice person without a single mean bone in my body. But you know, like most people, I’m sure, I have my moments. Like the time I bit my younger sister because I was mad at her for something or other. Or the time I lost at four square and called the girl who won “Baby Fatso.” When she started crying I felt horrible. I apologized those two times. (I also was a kid at those times so I chalk my bad choices up to immaturity).
I’m sorry. To this person, I never said it.
Those two words go a long way, that is, if the person who is uttering them is sincere in their words. They go a long way if the person who needs to apologize actually owns up to his or her actions and says the words.
I am a big advocate of forgiveness. I believe that forgiving those that have harmed you-even the ones that do not deserve it- has the potential let a person heal and to let go. This is not at all saying that by forgiving you are excusing a certain behavior. In fact, I think that everyone is entitled to feel whatever they feel about a certain situation or a person’s words. So if you feel angry, then you have every right to feel angry about it.
Matthew West sings an excellent song about forgiveness. It is one of my favorite “inspirational” sounds and quite honestly, since my divorce I’ve had to listen to this song fairly often, mainly to keep myself in check and not go completely crazy. This is my favorite part of the song. West sings about the power that lies within the act of forgiveness itself:
It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what its power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you
Even though I am a big advocate of the merits of forgiveness, I still think the other part to forgiveness is equally important; that is, saying “I’m sorry” when you know that an apology is due; and actually meaning it. That doesn’t mean that you should apologize to someone expecting forgiveness; or apologize and assume you are forgiven.
I admit I am guilty of this. I will do or say something out of anger or some other negative emotion and immediately feel bad about what I said. Sometimes it is hours, days or weeks later. I even admit that sometimes I know I am going to be sorry even before I do or say something, and do it anyways.
Why do people have a hard time saying “I’m sorry?” Is it the part where we have to acknowledge that we actually might have done something wrong?
Sometimes I wonder-no, I know this is my issue. It’s hard to admit that you hurt someone’s feelings or that you caused them to feel bad. And if anyone has ever done the same to you, you know exactly how you might have made the other person feel.
I am sorry. I have not said this enough in the past and if I were to go back and apologize for every misstep I’ve ever done…well, I would probably have to have a big apology party.
I don’t beat myself up too much over it. After all, the past is in the past, and you can’t undo something that you did or take back something you said.
However, you can try to not make the same mistake a second time. That includes apologizing the next time you know you need to apologize.
I’m sorry. We should say it when we mean it, and mean it when we say it.