Sorry is more than just a word: show that you mean it

Con­tri­tion that’s me­rely on the lips chan­ges not­hing in the heart or, for that mat­ter, around the waistli­ne, wit­hin the work­pla­ce, in­si­de trou­bled re­la­tions­hips

La Jornada (Canada) - - ENGLISH SECTION -

It’s tra­di­tio­nal to head in­to a new year full of re­sol­ve fue­lled by last year’s re­gret.

Our com­mit­ment to re­ne­wed dis­ci­pli­ne, diets and dream-achie­ving over the co­ming 12 months is all too of­ten dri­ven by short-term ove­rin­dul­gen­ce du­ring Ch­rist­mas fes­ti­vi­ties.

More im­por­tantly, the­re’s a lin­ge­ring sen­se of anot­her year lost by not doing what we ought to ha­ve do­ne, and by doing what we ought not to ha­ve do­ne, in the fi­ne, an­cient words of the

An­gli­can Book of Com­mon Pra­yer.

As much as we are im­pe­lled to im­pro­ve, many of us al­so feel that apo­logy and for­gi­ve­ness, to our­sel­ves and to ot­hers, is jus­ti­fied and be­ne­fi­cial. Un­for­tu­na­tely, we re­pea­tedly for­get that sorry is more than just a word. Con­tri­tion that’s me­rely on the lips chan­ges not­hing in the heart or, for that mat­ter, around the waistli­ne, wit­hin the work­pla­ce, in­si­de trou­bled re­la­tions­hips.

Be­fo­re we in­vest in ho­pe of much-nee­ded re­ne­wal, it’s worth doing so­me due di­li­gen­ce on what sa­ying sorry really means, when it can be ac­cep­ted as clo­sing a mat­ter, and how it can truly mo­ve us to the new by let­ting us lea­ve old re­grets in God’s hands.

We can all think of exam­ples in the pu­blic and pri­va­te as­pects of our li­ves. Th­ree that co­me to mind:

We learn that so­meo­ne we know, es­tee­med and trus­ted, has been trash-tal­king us or even en­ga­ging in vi­cious bad­mout­hing and ru­mour mon­ge­ring. Con­fron­ted pri­va­tely, the per­son ack­now­led­ges the com­ments we­re half-truths, but seems to think a pri­va­te “I’m sorry” fi­xes the mat­ter, with no need to re­tract the fal­sehoods.

The li­fe of so­meo­ne we con­si­de­red so­lid and re­lia­ble, mea­su­red and trust­worthy abruptly blows apart in re­ve­la­tions of ma­ri­tal in­fi­de­lity, se­xual mis­con­duct, le­gal im­pro­priety or da­ma­ging de­re­lic­tion of res­pon­si­bi­lity. Yet the per­son res­pon­si­ble seems to ex­pect friends to rally around in sup­port on the ba­sis of “I’m sorry,” re­gard­less of the le­gal, so­cial or mo­ral con­se­quen­ces of the beha­viour.

A pu­blic of­fi­cial se­riously trans­gres­ses co­des of et­hics or even the law. Caught and jud­ged cul­pa­ble, the mis­creant stum­bles th­rough a pu­blic “I’m sorry if I of­fen­ded an­yo­ne” non-apo­logy, pro­mi­ses to do bet­ter in fu­tu­re, and im­plies that be­cau­se it was do­ne for country, party or ideo­logy, ever­yo­ne will un­ders­tand, and all should be for­gi­ven and for­got­ten.

All th­ree are oc­ca­sions when “I’m sorry” co­mes from the lips, but we simply doesn’t re­sol­ve the co­re pro­blems. So how do we dis­tin­guish the pas­sed-off apo­logy from aut­hen­tic re­mor­se?

As a per­son of faith, I be­lie­ve in for­gi­ve­ness. Pre­su­mably, I should be among the first to ac­cept words of con­tri­tion. My iden­tity is that of a for­gi­ven sin­ner. I li­ke gi­ving peo­ple mul­ti­ple chan­ces, in part be­cau­se I know that I mess up plenty and need them my­self.

But con­tri­tion re­qui­res more than for­mu­la.

I can’t jud­ge mo­ti­ves or thought. For all I know, what I ex­pe­rien­ce might in­vol­ve sin­ce­re, heart­felt con­tri­tion. On the ot­her hand, the­re’s equal evi­den­ce to be­lie­ve what’s of­fe­red are me­re butt-co­ve­ring words from tho­se who’ve been caught and are loo­king to bury un­com­for­ta­ble epi­so­des.

Plau­si­bi­lity re­qui­res both words and beha­viour, even the pas­sa­ge of ti­me, and vi­si­ble evi­den­ce of chan­ged beha­viour. It re­qui­res the per­son see­king for­gi­ve­ness to ack­now­led­ge the da­ma­ge to ot­hers that their mis­deeds ha­ve do­ne.

It’s been said that both jus­ti­ce and chan­ge ha­ve th­ree parts: re­gret, res­ti­tu­tion and reha­bi­li­ta­tion. To ho­nestly reali­ze what was do­ne was wrong, to un­do the da­ma­ge and res­to­re things as best as pos­si­ble, and to li­ve in a man­ner that shows that the mis­ta­kes of the past are part of for­mer ways and the les­sons of our mis­ta­kes ha­ve been lear­ned - it’s all part of sa­ying I’m sorry.

Re­grets? We’ve all had a few. But if we are to truly ma­ke our­sel­ves new, sorry has to be the har­dest, and most ho­nest, word. -TROYMEDIA

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