I had to apologize to someone this past week. It was not an easy one and I had hesitated for a long time (over a year) before I did it. Because I had waited so long I had to send my apology in written form – an even tougher way than a “Sorry” mumbled in person. (Write down “I was wrong” on a piece of paper and give it to someone – you’ll see what I mean.) I had to put it all out there, written down for all the world, if this person wanted, to see. (But I also offered to do it again in person if this person so desired.)
A friend recently told our study group about an apology she had to give one day. She knew immediately that she had done wrong and not much time passed (less than an hour) before she went and said she was sorry. I was floored by her quick response.
Why then, you ask, did I wait so long? Why didn’t I just apologize from the start and get it over with? Why had I let it get this far?
Well. There is no good answer unfortunately.
One reason (and not a very good reason) was that I was advised by others to let it go, that I was in the right and should demand an apology myself. I consulted everyone within listening distance except one person: God. And no one gave me the right answer until I consulted His ways thoroughly.
Another reason is another question: Why do any of us wait to say “I’m sorry” or simply not apologize at all? I suspect mostly because of pride, greed, or pettiness just like I had done. To put it plainly – I was hurt as well and I thought it was I who deserved the apology. I sulked, cried, lashed out, shouted my case to anyone who would listen and turned inward to avoid that which I should have done from the beginning – apologize.
You see… we had both wronged each other, but I didn’t see that. My hurt and anger kept me from doing what the bible tells me to do: make it right. Matthew 5:22-24: Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
I hadn’t reconciled. I had remained unresolved. And I thought God wouldn’t notice, I guess. I thought that the sins against me were not as bad as my own sins against this person. Wrong again.
How was I supposed to offer my gifts for His use when I had this unresolved issue lurking over me?
After some time had passed God slowly niggled His way into my brain time and again with this issue. It weighed on me constantly and I became depressed and withdrawn. Finally one day last week my husband said to me “Do you have anything unresolved with God that you need to resolve?” and this issue immediately popped into my head. I sat down as soon as I could and wrote my apology letter.
It felt strange to write it out. To be truthful the only apologies I typically hand out are to my husband and they are usually me being sorry for who I am, not what I’ve done. (i.e. “I’m sorry I burnt dinner, I’m sorry I’m so depressed, I’m sorry I can’t do this because I have a headache”) I’m sure there are many other times I should apologize, but I know I haven’t.
But I plan on changing that. After I wrote the letter I felt… relieved. A weight had been lifted and I don’t even know yet if they accept my apology! But it doesn’t matter if they do. I have done what God has instructed me to do – I can do no more.
Don’t let something small like an unspoken apology come between you and someone today. Or you and God. Take care of it. Today.