Updated: Nov 12, 2020
How many of you honestly dread saying those two words? “I’m Sorry.” Why is it so hard for us to apologize? Why does apologizing literally cause so much anxiety? I’m not alone in that feeling right? I mean, I literally hate apologizing!! Are you with me?
Well, last night I had a proud parenting moment, which turned into a huge light bulb moment this morning during my Peloton jog/walk along the beach, during a wind advisory no less! Here is what happened, and I would be shocked if no other parents have had this happen in there house, especially these days, when we are all in the house, all of the time thanks to Covid-19. Anyway, Rob told Andrew to go to bed, which immediately turned into a dance party, farting sequence, rolling around the bed laughing situation; which Rob was in no mood for. Rob felt disrespected, got upset and angrily told Andrew he wasn’t messing around and he needed to go to bed and then proceeded to walk away. So I was left picking up the pieces, and the pick up didn’t go very well. Instead of expressing regret, Andrew yelled at me. I didn’t yell back, I just let him know that it was time for bed and that when he was ready to apologize, we would be in our room. I turned off the lights and walked away.
Pretty quickly I got this text from him:
He came in our room for the Plexus body cream to help with some itchiness and left over sunburn he had going on and said something with a salty tone and walked out. Not long after, he came in and apologized to me first and then Rob. As soon as the “I’m sorry dad” came out of his mouth, Rob said “It’s okay, BUT…” I know he was going to rehash everything he didn’t like about Andrew’s behavior and I gave him the quick stink eye, which means “stop talking now!” He did stop, but wasn’t happy about it. After Andrew was out of earshot, I said “Just let him apologize and be done with it. Don’t come back at him with why you got mad. Just accept the apology and move one. Otherwise he will struggle with apologizing because he’ll know it just opens him up to getting reprimanded again.”
Ya’ll, I have no idea where this genius idea came from, but can I get an “Amen!”? Isn’t that the basis of our anxiety (the anticipation of what you think will happen negatively, that hasn’t actually happened yet)? Do we actually hate apologizing because we know it is just opening us up to more ridicule about what we did wrong? And no one wants to hear that!! We know we did wrong! That is why we are apologizing!
What if when someone apologized to you, you just said “Thank you for apologizing, I accept your apology.”? But here is the real kicker...ACCEPT THE STINKING APOLOGY!! Let it go! Move on! They are sorry! They didn’t mean to upset you or hurt you. Forgive them! Right then and there. Be done with it. Holding onto the anger or pain only hurts you, not them, they have apologized. God is the greatest example of this type of forgiveness. You repent. He forgives. That’s all. You are forgiven. (A tip that helps me: When my sweet husband upsets me or hurts my feelings, even before he apologizes, I start thinking to myself "He loves me so much, he didn't mean to hurt me. He would never hurt me intentionally. He was careless with his words, not intentionally mean." I think this over and over to ease whatever hurt me, because it is the honest truth. He adores me, he may be trying to make a point, but he never wants me to actually be in pain from his words or actions)
So let me get back to last night and tell you how this played out in our house.
Andrew wasn’t talked down to after he apologized, so in his mind, he was forgiven; and you know what happened? He went right back to being his normal goofy, struggling to fall asleep self. Popping in our room for a little dance move, coming in to fart near Rob, you know, all the normal things an 8 year old does when he can’t get to sleep. Or at least all of the things we have come to expect from our 8 year old.
As he walked out after farting, Rob looked at me and said “Are you okay with this?” We talked about that for a minute. I pointed out, that this is the exactly what he does every single night, why would I not be okay with it tonight? And he expressed a very valid point, “But he was just in trouble, shouldn’t he feel bad? Shouldn’t we be more strict with him tonight and not let him be silly?” To which I replied “But he apologized and we forgave him. He feels forgiven and able to go right back to his normal happy self.”
You guys!!! That right there! That is everything! Isn’t this what will all want? When we finally apologize to someone, don’t we just want their forgiveness? Don’t we want everything to go back to normal? (Now I am not talking about abuse or infidelity or big stuff. I am talking about the spouse that didn’t get home on time or left the lid off of the toothpaste or didn’t meet your expectations in one way or another.)
Is this a crazy concept or what? Here is the thing, if we allow our kids to apologize and be forgiven, without rehashing what we think they did wrong, won’t they be more likely to apologize? And won’t they be more likely to accept apologies and forgive others quickly? Now fast forward 10-20 years when they have become adults, bosses, coworkers and parents who apologize well and accept apologies well.
That sounds like heaven to me! Literally heaven!
Now for the skeptics out there who are thinking, “If I keep letting them apologize, they will think that they can keep screwing up and I will just let it go.” Ya’ll that is not what I am talking about. Use some common sense, if you have someone in your life that keeps doing the same thing wrong over and over and over again, there is a good chance they aren’t sorry and that is a whole different conversation. That is not what I am talking about here.
Hear my heart when I say this will take time and practice. You will likely have to start following this plan yourself before it catches on with your loved ones. But how great will it be when your home is a place where mistakes are allowed to happen, apologies are sincere and forgiveness is immediate? How peaceful does that sound?
We know our loved ones will mess up, we know we will mess up; but I love the idea of having a safe loving space to mess up and grow from my mistakes rather than messing up and then feeling emotionally beat up for making a mistake.
Who is with me?
I hope that starting today, apologies and forgiveness flow freely in your life.