Many of us struggle to ever say we are sorry…or to say it very effectively. I have heard people boast that they never say they are sorry, thinking of it only as an admission of weakness.
Learning to ask forgiveness and to forgive are two of the most vitally important skills one can cultivate in life. They lead to health and longevity in your own body as well as in relationships, marriage, family, employment, etc. Yet most of us have never had any real teaching on how do perform a simple apology. True relational, restoring forgiveness requires much more than just an admission of guilt. For example, sometimes saying we are sorry can imply that we are only sorry we got caught. Other times we will grudgingly confess, “I’m sorry if what I said offended you”. But that really implies that the other party is partially to blame because of their thin skin or ignorance of not understanding what you really meant.
Did you know there are really four parts to a healthy (relationship, restoring) apology. And if we don’t execute all four, we haven’t really expressed or received true forgiveness. That is why so many of our relationships are broken and remain unfruitful in many areas. We are carrying around with us unresolved offenses. This can easily be remedied by sincerely doing the following:
- Apologize – This is the first step, but unfortunately this is where most of us stop (if we ever get this far). It is vitally important to humbly admit guilt and express remorse for an offense. And don’t try to weave into your apology some hidden blame for the other party. Simply say, “I was wrong and I want to apologize for _______________. With this step you have opened the door to resolution. But you are not done yet. So far you have merely stated a fact by owning up to the acknowledgment of the truth regarding a transgression.
- Ask forgiveness – If we don’t take this step then we are not allowing the offended party the opportunity to accept our apology. Without this, our apology is closed-handed. A sincere apology will include, “Will you please forgive me”? This makes us vulnerable and puts the ball in the other persons court. This is why many of us try to avoid this step. A true repentant heart must be willing to accept the fact that the offended party might not be ready to forgive. Nevertheless it is our duty to apologize and to ask forgiveness.
- Restoration – We must offer to do whatever is necessary to repair the harm that was inflicted. If there are monetary considerations, we must be willing to offer to pay the cost of fixing the damage. If the damages are emotional we should ask, “What can I do to make this up to you”? Now we are on our way to a restored relationship but one step still remains.
- Renewal – We must ask what we can do to win back this persons trust and state that they can be assured that we will never let this happen again.
WOW! What if we all were this honest and sincere to repair and heal our relationships. Our world would be a much healthier place. Come join us on Thursdays at 7pm if you are interested in learning more about how to be successful in every area of your life! We are discovering together that “Character Matters”!