I’m Sorry

I was thinking about apologising this week, not that there was a particular incident which I needed to say sorry for, but instead I was reflecting on how bad we are at it – generally speaking! Is that through lack of practise I wonder?

We all make mistakes, and yet we often fail to apologise properly, or even at all. This can only harm our relationships, and in my experience, I only ever think more highly of someone who admits their faults, not less.

I may struggle to point to specific Bible verses here, so please treat this as helpful advice rather than anything else! Experience gained the hard way is the only authority I can claim!

Be specific

When you apologise, be specific.

Sometimes when we discipline our children, they say “sorry” but really they mean “Be quiet Dad!” When I probe a little, asking what they are aplogising for, they cannot always tell me.

When you tell someone you are sorry, be clear about what it is you are sorry for. It not only acknowledges the mistake you made, but shows you understand why they were upset or hurt.

For instance, you could say:

  • I’m sorry I snapped at you this morning, it wasn’t your fault and I should not have said what I did.
  • I’m sorry I did not do what I said I would do yesterday, that must have been frustrating and created extra work for you.

While you do not necessarily need to mention when it happened, I think that can help to be clear about what went on.

Keep It Simple and Short

In my experience, it is better to be brief and to keep things simple. When we go on and on, trying to explain or setting the scene, it can come across as making excuses. We will touch on that in a moment, but for now, keep things straightforward.

I am not suggesting that you say something like, “I’m sorry I had an affair, that was inconsiderate of me.” As clearly, such a wrong requires a little more effort on our part!

I’m sorry, but… no excuses

When we apologise, we should offer no excuse along with it. You can hear the tell tale signs when someone says, “I’m sorry, but…” that little word “but” adds the idea that although I was wrong, there were extenuating circumstances which mean it wasn’t totally my fault.

Worse is when we say, “I’m sorry, but you…” turning around a situation like that is never any way to say we are sorry.

The truth is, when we are wrong, we have no excuse for our behaviour. There may be reasons why it happened, such as tiredness, worry, fear or stress, but an excuse does not make a wrong thing right.

I once heard it said that an excuse is a reason stuffed with a lie, and there is much truth to that.

When we are wrong, we should just say so, offering no excuses for the behaviour. It is merely an attempt to lessen the offence. Far better to just hold up one’s hands and and say, “I was wrong, I’m sorry.”

No Defence

In a similar way, when we are wrong, we have no defence any more than we have an excuse.

In a court of law, the accused mounts a defence to prove their innocence. In situations where the defendant admits their guilt, no defence is required.

When we say we are sorry, we are admitting that we have done something wrong. If we defend ourselves in that scenario, do we really believe we are “guilty” therefore? If some part of us believes we are innocent, then our apology lacks integrity.

Don’t apologise like a politician!

I write this at a time when the Prime Minister in the UK has been accused of breaking COVID restrictions which he imposed upon the rest of the nation. His “apologies” to date have not been all that well received by other politicians or the wider public. He has offered excuses; “I didn’t know it broke the rules…” and he has defended himself, saying “It was a work event, and I was only there 10 minutes…”

Often politicians will apologise by saying things like, “I’m sorry that hurt was caused…” thus avoiding any personal responsibility. It is like saying, “I’m sorry you took offence…” again, implying that the fault is not theirs, but yours… you took offence where none was intended.

Apologies must be freely offered, and not given begrudgingly. When politicians, or indeed anyone, apologises this way, we all question the sincerity of it.

Well, I’ve said I was sorry…

I have pointed out many ways not to apologise, and I hope it helps you give more honest and sincere apologies in future. My advice is simply to be open and admit when you’ve done wrong.

I want to close by reminding you that even when you do apologise sincerely, acceptance of that apology and forgiveness must never be demanded.

If someone does not respond positively to your sorrow, then please never say “Well, I’ve apologised, what more do you want?”

Forgiveness must never be demanded. When you offer your apologies, you must leave them with the other person and give them time to respond. It is not for you to remind them that they ought to forgive you, or that your apologies somehow heal hurts that were caused.

We all make mistakes, and as long as we live and interact with other people, there will be times when we need to say we are sorry for a wrong we have done. Let us apologise sincerely, without excuse or defence, and humbly say we are sorry when we need to.

I hope this has been helpful, and trust you won’t need to call upon it too often! Have a great day!

Review: Mostly Nonsense

As it is Father’s Day, I thought I would share the content of a conversation I had with my nine year old earlier today.

We were chatting about my blog, and she kindly offered to take a look for me. I sent her the link and she came back with the following review.

It was mostly nonsense…

Gwen – age 9

What can I say? It’s perhaps the best review I’ve ever had!

Have a wonderful Father’s Day everyone!

Scroll On By

We have a poodle named Rusty, and he’s my only male company in the house. As you might imagine, poodles require a fair bit of looking after. My wife is part of a social media group, and happened to ask a question about him. Within minutes, we had a few answers, but also all manner of other comments largely irrelevant to the subject at hand. It seems people felt it was an open door to make their opinions known or to criticise things they knew little about.

This is but one example of the worst of social media. I, likewise, am a member of various online groups and am shocked at how frequently people chip in on things and feel they must criticise and point out all manner of negatives.

Lockdown and politics are particularly bad examples of such behaviour. You quote or mention one particular party, and before you know it, you have comments from all sides. Mention your views on COVID restrictions, and you’ll be hit with those who agree and those who do not.

Social conventions have seemingly gone out of the window. If I were sitting in a restaurant, and expressed a view to the person I’m eating with, I do not expect someone from the other side of the restaurant to come over and start telling me why I’m wrong. Now I realise that by posting on social media that I’m not in a private setting, and my views or words are out in the public domain. However, not every post warrants a response.

I once posted a photo of myself on social media – no descriptions and no questions asked. Yet, it still attracted those who would point out where I was going wrong or insist on giving me their thoughts on the photo. It’s one thing to like a photo, and quite another to speak into someone’s life who has not asked for it.

If I post asking for advice or help on a certain matter, then it seems reasonable to give responses and comments. If I am just sharing a photo or news article for example, that does not necessarily equate to you having freedom to say whatever it is you like.

My point here: feel free to scroll on by.

So often I see things on social media that I have an opinion about, but I do not stop and comment on everything where it is not my place to do so. I simply scroll on by! If someone expresses an opinion about something, they are rarely inviting you to try and persuade them to change their minds. Again, you do not have to respond, you can just keep scrolling and move on.

For the most part, social media is a really toxic place. Even if you carefully manage your connections, you still encounter all manner of views and opinions which, I’m sorry to say, are often more negative than positive. We must guard our hearts and minds, and if a brief look through your feeds brings you down then I have to ask if it’s really worth it?

I know this is something of a departure from my usual Bible focus, but I thought it important to say. To be honest, there are a number of Bible verses which could apply here.

To make it your ambition and definitely endeavour to live quietly and peacefully, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we charged you,

1 Thessalonians 4:11 (Amp)

Note here that Paul encourages us to mind our own affairs. In modern vernacular, we might say “mind your own business!” The truth is that often there is little need for us to have an opinion on the posts we see on Facebook, Twitter, Insta or anywhere. If it does not directly affect us, then why waste mental energy on it? If someone’s making a political point, you can work to promote your own views through proper channels, not bring down their views with negative social posts.

So if you spend time on social media feeds today, really consider what you post and what your reply to. Is it a health and constructive debate? If so, then feel free to join in. If not, or if it’s not your place to speak, then just scroll by and seek something more positive.

Social media is incredibly addictive, and it can be extremely difficult to separate ourselves from it. If you need to lock that phone away or delete your accounts, then do so. Take such actions to guard yourself against such negative influences.

I am not against social media at all, and in fact it can and has done many positive things. Social media has allowed many families and churches stay in touch during lockdown restrictions, and it is a powerful tool for sharing the Gospel.

The danger is that too many of us, myself included, offer up our opinions and communicate in a way that we never would in a face to face situation. Worse are those who would seek out place to spout their opposing views for no other reason than to sow discord. For instance, I saw a post from a Christian TV streaming service. Underneath were a few comments from those disputing the existence of God and making fun of those who would believe. Presumably they have had to seek out such posts for the simple reason of being mean. I may not agree with other religious beliefs, but I do not seek out their groups and post mocking or derisive comments. That’s not ok!

I had not intended this to come across as a rant, and so apologies if it has. I have seen so many examples of this kind of thing now and I wanted to flag it today. You have the right to disagree and to think whatever you wish, as do I, but let us not feel obligated to share all such views whenever and wherever we like. Scroll past if you do not agree, and take Paul’s advice to “mind you own business!”

Merry Christmas!

This is just a very brief post to thank everyone who has read the blog this year. I’ve really enjoyed writing these posts and sharing my thoughts from the Bible. I hope that in some way it has been a blessing to you and that you have learned something.

All that remains is for me to wish you a very happy Christmas, and to pray God’s blessing on you in the coming 2019.

Christmas is an extremely busy time and not always joyful for everyone. However you spend Christmas, do take some time to reflect on the season and on what God has done in your life. While that Baby in the manger may seem a million miles away at times, it was all done with you in mind.

Have a truly blessed and peaceful time, and I look forward to sharing more with you next year.

Thank you