I’d like to think that I have a fairly decent vocabulary. However, I seem to have trouble with 2 words sometimes. They aren’t long words. There’s no tricky accent on them, nor do they require tongue twisting enunciation. These words are…
Let me try that again…
Ok, this is more difficult than I expected. Here’s goes.
Whew! There. I feel better.
It’s not necessarily that those words are impossible to say for me; it’s the jab to my pride & admitting I was wrong that make them a little sticky. When I miss someone’s phone call, those words flow beautifully off my lips. “Oh I’m sorry I missed your call. I’ve been talking to God in my prayer closet for the past 4 hours.” Ok, it doesn’t usually go that way. It’s more like, “I’m sorry I missed your call. I was blowdrying my hair and a large chunk of it got sucked into the backside of the dryer. And while I was trying to pull it out, I panicked and turned to unplug the thing and stubbed my toe. Smoke from my burned hair had filled the room so I couldn’t see anything and ran into the door, knocking me unconscious for the past 32 minutes. The good news is, I saved the dryer. The bad news is, I now have bangs.”
Simply apologizing for something is sometimes difficult, but saying I’m sorry without putting a “but”, “that” or “if” after it…can be even harder! “I’m sorry that you took it the wrong way.” “I’m sorry if you think I said that out of spite.” Or the classic, “I’m sorry for how I said it, but I’m not sorry for what I said.”
Yep. The I’m sorry without a but, that or if. What a challenge.
I have a friend who’s been through thick and thicker with me. We’ve been very close the last few years. Slowly but surely, little things this person would say & do would make me…well…angry. But did I tell them that? Was I honest to them? No, no, no. Don’t be silly. I just kept listening & listening & taking it in. I would take it personally & and let it build up inside of me. All the while, I was smiling and nodding. My friend had no idea that I had had it up to here with her bad attitude & empty talk. And how could she have known? I was smiling & nodding. I didn’t want to have to deal with conflict or confrontation. But a girl gets to her breaking point eventually. You know what I’m saying. You’ve been there. You take it & take it & then…SNAP! Your face gets flush, your heart start pounding & then bllllaaaaaaaaaa. Out come some not-so-pretty things. “Oh sure, just because I’ve been smiling & agreeing with you about everything you’ve been saying throughout the latter part of our friendship, then all of the sudden I explode all over you, you think I’M crazy. Fine. Be that way.”
I thought that everything was said and done; it had become something that couldn’t be reversed. There were so many things this girl had said & done to me; our friendship was over. But then, my loving God began a work in my heart. I didn’t come straight to the conclusion that I needed to ask forgiveness from this person. It was a journey & my heart began going through a transformation that I can only explain as a God-change. I was craving God’s word constantly. I truly felt my relationship with Jesus deepening into something very special & real. Knowing that I wanted my heart to be cleaned out and made pure, I began to ask God to show me things that I needed to do in order to make things right with people so that my heart, motives and actions could line up with God’s heart. And of course, don’t ya know it…He began to show me people who I needed to apologize to.
Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
I love how The Message puts Psalm 139:23 & 24. “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.”
I knew swallowing my pride was going to be hard enough, but being genuine with my apology WITHOUT needing or requiring an apology from this person, was only going to happen with God’s strength. I knew I couldn’t do it without tapping into God’s mercy and grace. And when we do that, watch out. I was overwhelmed with love for this person. I wrote out a very long apology & sent it off. I didn’t blame, accuse or point out my friend’s wrongdoings. Even if it had ended there, I experienced this incredible sense of joy in my heart from being obedient to God’s command in the situation. I don’t care how hard the situation is, when we’re obedient to God’s leading, there will be joy in our souls.
Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”
I can love them, pour grace out on them, give mercy to them through Him.
So within a couple of days, this friend emailed back, expressing her heart & how she was sorry too & how we should just start fresh. What an additional blessing that she was so receptive! That’s not always the case though. But that’s ok. We are only required to be responsible for our own reactions & motives. If we are listening to God’s beautiful voice in our lives and being obedient to Him, we don’t have to worry about others’ responses or hearts. It’s not our place & isn’t our burden to carry. We can however, pray that their hearts & long for God. We are all different. We all have varying opinions, priorities & convictions. But as we all run after God & desire for hearts to be like His heart, we will come to this mutual ground of love, understanding & respect towards each other. And that is a beautiful thing.
1 Chronicles 29:27, “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.”
My God is faithful.