Pride makes it hard to be sorry.  Some people think apologizing is a sign of weakness.  Being truly sorry and understanding that someone feels pain over something you did is actually a sign of strength.  It’s a sign of humility.  Humility is a sign of maturity and most importantly, spiritual maturity.

Jesus said, “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matt 23:12

If you are a baby boomer you remember the famous line from the 1970 hit movie Love Story that starred Ryan O’Neil and Allie McGraw; “Love Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry“. 

Baby boomers took this line and ran with it.  Millions of posters and statues of cute little naked people were sold and a generation was taught that if you really love someone, you really didn’t mean to hurt the one you love and you should have been forgiven immediately.

I guess in a perfect world when two people love each other this would be the case.  Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world.  We hurt the one’s we love.  Some hurts are obvious and we are more likely to truly regret the offense and apologize.  But it’s the others that cause problems in relationships.  It’s all the little things that we just blow off and go on that add up and become huge.

How do you determine when it is time to say you are sorry?  You apologize if the other person is offended.   The need to apologize is not based on whether the offender feels it was wrong or not, it’s about the one who is offended.  That is where humility plays a big part.  You may think the other person should not be offended and thus think you don’t need to be sorry.  But …. If the other person is offended, the right thing to do is apologize….. 

If you are saying you are sorry, if you do apologize, it needs to be more than words.  You know it hurts more when people tell you they are sorry but by their actions you can tell they are not. 

I believe there are five actions you need to take to apologize, really apologize.

  1. You need to express regret to the one you have hurt.  You need to give value to the emotion the offended is feeling.  You need to understand that you may not really understand, but you do recognize the pain you caused.  “I can tell I hurt you.  I apologize.”
  2. You need to accept responsibility for the pain you have caused. (Even if you really believe it is not anything to get upset about) 
  3. You need to make things better.   Make up for it.  Have patience when he or she does not accept your apology right away or brings it up later.  Go out of your way to be kind and reaffirm your love.
  4. You need to be repentant.  You need to make an effort to not do it again.  You need to tell him or her you will try not to do it again.  Learn from the experience.  Pick up some wisdom from the event.
  5. You Need to Ask for forgiveness.   This, if its honest, goes a long way toward reaffirming your love and commitment to the relationship.

I went to dinner with my son for a last time before his wedding day.  I asked him if he had any questions I could answer or if I could throw any wisdom his way about marriage or whatever.  He said no.  He said thanks.

Then he said, “Dad, you know what I think I learned from you that is most important?” 

“When you made a mistake, you were not afraid to say you were sorry.” 

How hard is it for you to say you are sorry?  What if you think there is nothing to be sorry about? 

Your comments would be appreciated.