“Say you’re sorry.”
“Bobby, say you’re sorry for hitting your sister.”
“If you don’t say you’re sorry right now, you will lose screen time for the rest of the week.”
“I mean it!”
“OKAY! FINE! SORRY!”
If you’ve ever been around kids—or been one—you’re probably chuckling right now. You’ve heard this. Or seen this played out. Or done this. Right? You say you’re sorry just to move past the consequence.
Authentic, healthy friendships include times of disagreement. They just do. Ruptures to the relationship occur. Those times when a sharp word or thoughtless comment causes hurt. Or when one person betrays the other. Sometimes, there’s just an “oops” that occurs. Unintended, but hurtful, nonetheless.
In order to repair the relationship, one person must apologize and make amends. And the other must offer forgiveness. To be clear, there are times when forgiveness cannot include a restoration of the relationship because of issues like abuse. But, in general, forgiveness is a critical element to friendship. The other element is a good apology. Sincerely given. Not just to avoid a consequence, but to restore and rebuild.
Authors Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas, in their book The Five Languages of Apology, suggest we each have an apology language—the way(s) we need to hear an apology in order for it to feel sincere.
- 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?
Apologies aren’t optional in friendship. In Matthew 5:23-24, we read that if we are preparing to offer a gift at the altar and suddenly remember we’ve offended a brother, we need to set aside what we are doing and immediately go and repair the relationship. Apologies are an act of holiness and loving humility in friendship.
Rupture and repair. Apology and forgiveness. Relational restoration. This is the heart of the Gospel.
ACTION: What is your apology language? I’m sorry. I was wrong. What can I do to make it right? I’ll try not to do that again. Will you please forgive me? Can you think of a recent apology you received that allowed you to readily offer forgiveness? Perhaps, even as you’re reading this post, someone has come to mind that you have offended. How does that person need to hear your apology? Can you offer that today as a holy gift to your friendship? May God fill you with courage and grace as you repair what was ruptured in your relationship.