We’ve all been there. Whether intentionally or not, we’ve all said or done something that ended up hurting, angering or embarrassing someone.
Sometimes when this happens, our impulse to apologize comes swiftly and with certainty.
It’s obvious to us that we need to make amends, and we do so.
At other times, though, we resist any suggestion that we owe an apology to anyone.
“They had it coming,” we assure ourselves. Or, “They’re being overly sensitive. They’ll forget about it soon enough.”
We may even convince ourselves that, “If anyone should apologize, it should be them. They’re the one who crossed the line.”
Sadly, this is a lose-lose situation that leads to resentments, grudges and broken relationships.
Placing the blame on someone else is easy.
Making excuses and skirting the subject is easy.
Placing the responsibility on our own shoulders, however, is very hard.
This is where humility comes in.
Can we look at ourselves in the mirror and say that the conflict was at least partially our fault?
Can we take that responsibility?
Apologies and forgiveness are important aspects of any relationship, whether it be a loved one, friend, shop clerk or congregant.
But here’s the thing we often forget: apologies benefit those who make them far more than those to whom they are made.
Learning to apologize is the first and most important step in the healing process.
Not only does it show the recipient that you acknowledge their right to feel hurt, but it opens the way to forgiveness.
Timing is an important aspect to keep in mind, however, because sometimes the other person might not be ready to accept your apology.
Sometimes we need to allow time to heal the wounds a little bit before we come forward to say, “I’m sorry.”
An apology cannot undo what has been done, but it can help ease the pain and tension of the aftermath.
It gives hope for rebuilding and puts value on the relationship rather than pride.
Often times, those two simple words are worth more than a lifetime of excuses and explanations.
Choose the path of humility.
Choose the path of healing.
Choose love above pride.
Choose to apologize.
Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Kate Lore is a minister at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Port Townsend. Her email is [email protected]