The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
The Horizon’s lovely op-ed editor Rebecca and I scooted through the top row of the bleachers in the gym. As the lights dimmed down for chapel to start, I slightly brushed someone’s arm with my bag. “Oops, sorry!” I exclaimed.
I’m sure the person didn’t mind that I briefly and accidentally touched them, but I still said sorry faster than I could think about my words.
We say lots of phrases and words on a daily basis that don’t have any significant meaning, but we still say them as filler words.
Now I’m not saying we should stop apologizing altogether, but just think about how that little word slips into other aspects of life. Saying “sorry” when you are interrupted in the middle of a class discussion. Apologizing for accidentally speaking at the same time as another. Have you ever seen a conversation where two people start talking at once and they both apologize and then try to let the other person speak? Then they awkwardly go back and forth telling the other person to speak first and the conversation just stops for a minute? To me, apologizing for small mistakes is unproductive and ingenuine when interacting with people you know only have good intentions.
This constant pattern in the lives of Christians creates guilt and a low view of oneself. Living in the power of Jesus’ grace means that we don’t have to apologize for every little thing and that can be intentional about our words. Most importantly, we restore power to the true meaning of remorse and forgiveness when we carefully examine our actions and mistakes and apologize for them.
I want to challenge myself, and all of you, to stop apologizing for minuscule things that do not warrant an apology. Let’s examine our words that might slip out — if we find they might have hurt someone, let’s talk about it. I recently did this with a friend who felt really discouraged after several hard things added up over the week. I couldn’t help but wonder if my very assertive and poorly-thought-out words were just one more thing that set them over the top. Realizing my mistake, I knew I needed to apologize to them. I valued our friendship and I could see how I failed to choose my words and tone wisely, so I needed to get right with them. They assured me that everything was okay and that they weren’t hurt by my words, but had a lot of built-up frustration instead.
Giving genuine apologies after we pause and reflect on our friendships can bring us closer and help us understand where we need support and growth. Let’s not apologize when we feel like a burden or are insecure, but make genuine apologies when we have quick moments of anger, or when we speak without thinking. When we DO apologize, let’s do so from a posture of humility, vulnerability and love.
Opinions expressed in letters and other editorials, unless otherwise stated, are those of the writers and not of The Horizon staff or the college collectively.