“I’m sorry!” The words escape so frequently there becomes an ease to its flow. Between the walls of a home reside the hundreds of “sorrys” that have been released. Is there an ill in saying “I’m sorry?” Not necessarily. In fact, it would be praiseworthy for an individual to admit when he/she has done wrong and seek to confess such to the offended. However, does there come a point in which the word becomes empty and routine? Does making this repeated confession deepen the burden of guilt of imperfection or failure?It’s interesting how “sorry” quickly takes on the hissing sound of a snake when said too often. It no longer sounds as the innocence it should but more of a deception. Indeed, we may be genuinely apologetic for the occurrence. Yet, we’ve said it so many times that it loses its totality of truthfulness. Where holes of casual and careless familiarity form, guilt rapidly fills. In the end, the “I’m sorry” statement extends with “…I just can’t do anything right,” though it is false it remains believable.
In the next moment we find ourselves repeating the offense and feeling weighed down even further. The guilt of a repetitive “sorry” can break us down and tear at the family in a similar fashion. Is there not to be more than a cycle of guilt-ridden sorrys?
Understanding God’s Desire for UsFirst and foremost, forward motion proceeds less effectively with the luggage of yesterday. It’s difficult to let go of those things that have clung so tightly to us. However, Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Furthermore, Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.’ If we wish for something different then we must first go to the Lord with our burden of guilt, imperfection, or failure and allow him to redefine and repurpose us.
Seeking the Heart of the Matter vs. the ApologyI heard a mother share her philosophy in handling apologies and wrongs within her home. She stated that she actually places less emphasis on “I’m sorry” and greater on finding the heart of the matter and then seeking forgiveness. To simply say “I’m sorry” addresses the result of the action or attitude. On the other hand, to look deeper for the heart of the offense is to truly discover what needs to be forgiven and corrected. Often, the issue is a character quality. For instance, in repeating (ie nagging) a request or comment to my husband it isn’t only the action of doing so that I need to seek forgiveness but also the heart of selfishness and impatience. The goal in an unpleasant situation is to gain a greater understanding and growth from it. And so, by seeking the heart of the lacking character quality I can begin to seek God’s word and help in correcting this as means of preventing a repetition in the future.
Here’s the fact of the matter- we’re going to make mistakes. Exasperation and guilt keep us making them over and over because they have inhibited the lesson from being learned. Recall that we are to be forgiving and loving to others because God first forgave and loved us. What about ourselves? Do we also permit ourselves to be forgiving and loving by …well, ourselves? If we are constantly falling short of the high expectation, then perhaps that is an indicator that the bar is set inappropriately high. When married, there is so much to learn and yet there exists an expectation to be able to excel in this role despite the level of preparation or training. Begin being accepting to the idea of taking baby steps in learning the role (it is a learning process, and not innate afterall). When you set and achieve smaller goals, then the reward is so sweet and will motivate to continue on to the next level. This may mean begin establishing a daily-weekly routine for managing the home, developing cooking skills one recipe or mealtime at a time, learning a skill with small projects that may be profitable later (ie sewing etc). Take whatever the greatest sense of failure derives from and begin chipping away at it one step at a time with the understanding that mistakes must be allotted for in the natural process of learning.
Allowing for Appropriate Expectations & Mistakes
I heard a tip regarding our response to a negative result. What if we responded simply with, “I can learn from that?” My home would be much more joyful if I could replace my habit of instantaneous “failure” label with “I can learn from that!”
Growing beyond "I'm sorry" has been on my heart as of late. I'm certainly not where I wish to be, but at least I have a goal in trying. Perhaps this hollow hiss is also something I'm not alone in attempting to regain control over. If not, then I pray you too will be encouraged.
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