How often does a rude remark, an unkind action, or a harsh tone of voice escape your mouth or body? I like to think I’m usually pretty good about thinking before I speak and not letting an outburst get the best of me. But friends, it still happens. And I usually regret it immediately after it is released. Even though there may be validation for our anger or frustration in a situation, it really doesn’t validate our unkindness in those moments.
I’ve found that something I don’t regret – after I’ve done something I do regret – is offering an apology. An apology helps to restore what was broken in our moment of unkindness to another. Sometimes, apologies are tough. Teaching and watching children learn to apologize gives us a lot of insight into our own experiences about apologizing. It’s almost painful for some to cough out the words “I’m sorry.” For others, they can share the words easily, but you know they don’t really mean it, at least not yet. Then there are those frustrating moments when we’ve said we’re sorry, but the other person doesn’t seem to accept our apology as genuine.
You may have heard of the Five Love Languages, but did you know that the same author, Dr. Gary Chapman, along with Dr. Jennifer Thomas, wrote a book called The Five Languages of Apology? This book gives great insight to understanding different aspects of apologies that are important to people who are both giving and receiving apologies. These “languages” of an apology are:
- Expressing Regret – “I am sorry.”
- Accepting Responsibility – “I was wrong.”
- Making Restitution – “What can I do to make it right?”
- Genuinely Repenting – “I’ll try not to do that again.”
- Requesting Forgiveness – “Will you please forgive me?”
However, you may express an apology, it’s something you won’t regret. The best apologies incorporate a bit of all the languages, but especially when taking the person, you are apologizing to into account for what they need to hear most. And apologies not only can help the person who is being apologized to, it also helps to release the person who is offering the apology. I think there is something healing for us when we give an apology to others. We are humbled, and we have an opportunity to share grace and forgiveness to others. Those are all Christ-like traits that are good for each of us to grow in our lives – and that’s something you won’t regret either.
Amy Givens, Director of Youth Ministry