There's a song by Timbaland titled "Apologize." While I think this song is beautiful in its own way, I don't agree with the lyrics of the refrain that say, "It's too late to apologize." Relationships are built on trust, honesty, and how we respond to mistakes. It's never too late to apologize and apologizing brings about the possibility of not merely forgiveness for wrongdoing, but repair for the relationship.
The truth is if you want to repair a relationship, It is NEVER too late to apologize!
While our blog is focused on dating, courtship, and marriage, apologies are important every single relationship we have with another person. There will be times where we do wrong and we must apologize to bring about restitution for our error. Similarly, there will be times where we are wronged and we want an apology. Humankind has an amazing capacity to forgive, and forgiveness can bring about the restoration of relationships in place of punishment and justice!
Marisa and I have been reading from many books this past week, including The Five Languages of Apology by Dr. Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas. Dr. Chapman's book talks about the differences in how people view and give genuine apologies and breaks the types of apologies into 5 main categories (to be discussed in a later post). Dr. Chapman writes powerfully in his book that "while justice may bring about some sense of satisfaction to the offended person, justice does not typically restore relationships." How right Dr. Chapman is! With your spouse, your significant other, your family member, and even your coworkers, the inclination of most people is to forgive instead of hold a grudge. However, often times people do not apologize which makes forgiveness extremely difficult for the offended person.
Many people think apologizing is a form of weakness. It is the dead opposite! Apologizing is a sign of strength, humility, and maturity. It takes a strong person to admit that they are wrong and give the power of restoring the relationship over to the offended person who chooses whether or not they want to forgive the offender. Forgiveness is also often seen as an act of the weak, but in reality, it takes a lot of strength to muster the courage to forgive someone and work to repair the relationship.
Now I want to talk for a moment about two major misconceptions people have about apologies and forgiveness:
First, I've noticed is a lot of people think that apologizing or the ability to forgive someone have expiration dates. You may have harmed your spouse ten years ago by forgetting your fifth anniversary, or you may have hurt your child by being demeaning at times instead of encouraging. The pain people bear from being hurt can last a lifetime. I know this from personal experience, as I am still trying to forgive people who have not apologized to me for things they did or said that hurt me over a decade ago. If we hold onto pain for such a long time from the things of the past, there cannot ever be an expiration date on apologies or forgiveness because there is still a valid reason to apologize and forgive. It's never too late to apologize or forgive.
Second, many people seem to believe that apologizing or forgiveness are one time things. You say "I am sorry" or "I forgive you" and that's it. This isn't the case at all. An apology and forgiveness aren't the one and only step needed to restore relationship. An apology is the first step for an offender of repentance; the offender sees what they are doing is detrimental to their relationship and themselves and they apologize, making the commitment to strive to become a better person. When you apologize for something, odds are you may fail by doing the same thing. Thus, apologizing is a process because it recognizes the need for a continual commitment towards change. Similarly, forgiveness is the first step for an offended person to begin to restore the relationship. Forgiveness is a commitment to remove the debt owed because of the offense and to begin the journey in trusting, loving, and accepting the offender, no matter how egregious their sin.
In future posts, I hope to discuss the 5 different languages of apology, how to genuinely apologize, and how apologies and forgiveness can change your life.
Have you ever felt like you cannot forgive your spouse, friend, or family member because they will not apologize? Do you have problems communicating your genuine and sincere apology to your loved one or coworker? We would love to hear your stories and help you along in your journey to attaining the ability to effectively apologize and forgive. You can reach Marisa or me any time with questions, comments, testimonies, or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you have a blessed weekend!