“Say you’re sorry now!” I recently heard a mom demand of her child. The little girl apologized to her sister, but I could tell by her expression that she didn’t mean it. The encounter reminded me of what Joe and I teach in our classes about asking for forgiveness, especially in marriage.
We know from past mistakes and from working with others that false apologies only make matters worse in the long run.
Here are 3 questions we ask
1. Am I Saying “I’m Sorry Just to Feel Better?”
Have you ever apologized to end an argument just because you had plans and didn’t want them to be thwarted by an uncomfortable atmosphere? I have. In fact, it seemed the unselfish thing to do at the time. I reasoned that it was just easier to agree that the misunderstanding was all my fault so we could get on with having fun.
Instead, be honest. Asking to put things on hold in order to discuss later, or a gentle touch and look can usually defuse the situation. Be adult, but don’t lie with a false apology.
2. Am I Getting in the Way of God?
Oftentimes God uses the emotional pain of an argument with someone we love to show us a blind spot that we need to change. If you apologize to someone too quickly you may be interfering with what God wants to show you and those involved. In Proverbs we are warned to not rescue an angry person, or we will have to keep doing it (Proverbs 19:19).
Instead, be patient. There’s nothing more difficult than watching those we love hurt, knowing that a simple “I’m sorry” will fix it. But the fix is only temporary unless there is true repentance. Pray for the person and be loving and understanding while waiting, but don’t rush the process by saying “I’m sorry” so they will feel better.
3. Do I Want Something in Return?
Asking for forgiveness when you have wronged someone is a beautiful thing. Repentance is what draws us to God’s grace. But, if we only came to God for what He could do for us, it’s not true repentance. The same is true in relationships. How many times have you been sorry, asked for forgiveness, and been treated harshly in return? Probably more than you want.
Instead, forgive without expectations. If you have wronged someone, repented, and said “I’m sorry”, you have done a good thing in God’s eyes. That’s what matters.
Do you apologize too often? Are you always the one to say “I’m sorry”? Do you ever apologize and not mean it? We’d love to hear from you.