Recent comments made by an American TV talk show host about a politician’s family and her daughters triggered a flurry and accusations and a series of apologies. Without commenting on the tastelessness of the joke, or the emotions flying from a wide range of individuals and groups, the drama reminded me of some of my apologies over the years.
As I grew up, I often took out my frustrations with life on my two brothers, especially the one closest to me. He was the release for angst I could not handle in my teen years. I was older, so verbal abuse was often the tool of choice. I was physically heavier, so resorting to rights was a quick backup when I did not know what to do with my emotions. I do not remember giving him compliments. I do recall how sarcasm was a normal part of our conversation. I was wrong. I had no excuse. I was responsible.
In time, I was accountable.
A wise individual once suggested that when one apologizes, it is good to let the apology be the apology. One does not include explanations. Explanations are only understood from the perspective of the one explaining. One does not justify. Justifications suggest that one is not guilty. They imply that one is not fully accountable. Apologies should be just what they are. They are simple. Being direct helps. If they are clear, then the other may hear the apology.
When two wisdom fathers were treated outside of justice, the guilty parties, “hurried over and apologized, personally escorted them from the jail, and then asked them if they wouldn’t please leave the city.” (Acts 16.39) The apology was weaker for the request tacked on at the end. It almost seems like it was a bribe. I apologize, so please do what I want.
I often try making myself happy before anything else. If I put it bluntly, I am selfish! When I apologize unconditionally, I find hope in forgiveness. It is a God gift. My brother gave it to me. God offers it today.