Have you ever noticed that two of the most difficult words we're ever asked to say are "I'm sorry?" I mean, think about it - when was the last time you told someone you were sorry for something you said or did? Was it easy to say? Or, did the words come from your mouth through gritted teeth? Have you ever thought about why it's so challenging? For some people, "I'm sorry" comes entirely too easy and if you're someone who can look back over the last seven days and count having said those words more than seven times, then stay tuned for an upcoming post regarding your popular problem. For now, the focus is on a problem of my own flesh - saying I'm sorry.
Last night as we prepared for bed, our pup Lucy Liu wagged her tail expectantly. Because my husband, Sam, always takes her out in the evenings, it didn't occur to me to offer. Plus, I still have a broken toe so why on earth would I bother, right? Well, I had gotten far enough through my usual pre-bedtime routine that it wouldn't have even made sense that I take her, but jokingly, Sam made a comment about not having his shoes on, so "I guess I can't take her out," he said with a smile. "Is he seriously suggesting with his poor use of subtlety that I take her out," I wondered with a rising indignant tone to my thoughts. (For a deeper understanding of this particular fit of emotion, please see previous entry, titled Be Kind - Even When You Don't Feel Like It). Within the next five minutes, his simple attempt to joke around escalated into him accusing me of using a broken toe as an excuse and me acting like an undisciplined child. To prove him wrong, I took matters into my own hands when he wasn't looking - I took the dog out. "That'll show him," I thought. "I am not using a broken toe as an excuse not to take the dog out," I muttered while I stood outside in the cold. To fulfill my role as the mistreated and misunderstood martyr, I even did it barefoot. I totally punished him, right?
When I came in, I added an extra shiver to my walk just to let him know how cold it was while I took her out. He didn't even know I had taken her, but when he realized I had, he laughed and I became more angry. "Doesn't he see that I'm broken and cold?" I pouted. Well, before it was all said and done, the devil got a tighter hold on me and I called Sam a jerk. The second the words left my lips, I felt the conviction of God come down on me like a hail storm that leaves dents in your car. First, there was complete truth to what Sam said - I was using a broken toe as an excuse; and two - who resorts to name calling! It's mean, it's hateful, and it's childish. I knew all of this, but I wasn't ready to concede. Instead, I pulled my glamour mask down over my eyes, shut out the light, and attempted to go to sleep. God had different plans.
As I lay there, I waited for Sam to say something. He never did. "Well, what's wrong with him," I silently complained. "Nothing is wrong with him," I felt God say in my spirit. I knew I was in the wrong, but I wasn't interested in apologizing. Instead, in a failed attempt to appease God, I quietly muttered "I love you" and turned back over to go to sleep. Because of who Sam is, he immediately responded with "I love you too," but I felt God pushing me to say more. "I am not saying I'm sorry, God. Forget it!" I battled inside. It actually felt like I might bleed somewhere on my body if I had to say those words, but after a few minutes I realized God wouldn't let me sleep unless I said them. I finally did.
Why is it so hard for us to say those two words? It's hard because we're prideful, selfish, and filled with a need to be in control, and if we say them it's acknowledging that we did something wrong. We like to portray to everyone else that we're without defect and never get into sin, so when we're faced with a situation that requires an apology, actually saying it deflates our bubble of self-proclaimed perfection. I don't share with you the ugly things I've done because I want to; Truth be told, I'd rather not. I share them because they are an integral part of my growth in God - and the ugly or wrong things you do are an intrgral part of your own growth with God. Less than a year ago I would never have even apologized. I would have sacrificed a night of sleep just to avoid saying I was sorry. I was a genius at coming up with reasons why I shouldn't have to, but that's not how I want to run my life. Sam is so quick to forgive me, and it usually only takes a smile thrown his way, so how much quicker should I be to apologize when I know I've done something to hurt him? How much quicker should we all be?
Look at it this way - if we can get on our knees each day and ask a holy God to forgive us of our sins, how much easier should it be to ask our loved ones? If you want to be more like Jesus, start being quicker to do things how He would do them. It's not supposed to be easy or without pain in our flesh. If you've said or done something to someone and know you need to apologize, don't wait to do it. Do it as soon as you feel the conviction in your spirit. If you're someone who has been hurt and you're waiting on the other person to apologize, don't base your happiness on hearing the words "I'm sorry" - they may never come. Trust that God knows you've been hurt and His is the best healing you'll ever receive.
We have a real problem with saying we're sorry, but I don't want to be the person whose "I'm sorry" never comes to someone I've hurt. Though it's true that God is our vindicator and healer - I know that while I'm here, I can make a difference by saying the words when the words are needed. In every new situation, I pray that I say it faster than the time before. Be quick to love, quick to forgive, and quick to say you're sorry! It's as much for the other person's benefit as it is for your own. It's not a coincidence that God set things up in that manner. When you endure the fleshly pain of saying you're sorry, you are not only offering healing to someone else; you're also being healed. May God bless each and every one of you with the strength to endure your own "I'm sorry" when it's needed!