From the driver’s seat, I could hear my two boys in the back seat engaging in a friendly competition of who was the strongest. There were several years between them, and my oldest definitely had the advantage of size over my youngest, and he knew how to use this to intimidate when the occasion called for it. My youngest, although not his equal in size, knew how to exercise his quick wit when the occasion called for commanding the upper hand speedily in order to claim his own territory.
“Let’s see who is the strongest,” said the oldest.
“OK,” said the youngest.
“I’ll squeeze your hand first and see if it hurts. Then you can squeeze mine,” said the oldest.
“OK,” agreed the youngest.
The oldest proceeded to wrap his hand around the width of the youngest one’s hand, squeezing until his fingers and knuckles were screaming for release.
“Ouch!” yelled the youngest.
“Now it’s your turn,” pronounced the oldest.
Without so much as a pause, the youngest drew back and punched the oldest in the face, swiftly declaring victory and delivering resounding pain in place of strength.
“There, see if that hurts!” declared the youngest.
What began as harmless play quickly morphed into sibling rivalry, and I found myself thrust into the role of peacemaker. My amusement with the situation had to be instantly curtailed as I was being called to work my two testosterone overloaded tykes through their squabble, which I did once the tears subsided.
Apologies were called for, and even though neither of the boys felt inclined to give them, they did. However, in our home, apologies are always required to be followed up with an accounting of why the apology is being given. There are several reasons for this:
- It allows the person who is apologizing to take ownership of the hurt which was caused. Spitting out a quick and insincere “I’m sorry” is too easily misguided, falls short and can only compound the hurt.
- It also requires ample opportunity for the tone of voice to demonstrate true sorrow for the infraction. We have all given and been on the receiving end of a false and half hearted apology. It is easily recognized whether thrown out verbally or by email and also results in deepening the wound.
- It gently carries the emotions of the person wronged along the path to being able to offer genuine forgiveness.
- It facilitates an honorable mending of the relationship.
Throughout my life, I am reminded of how difficult those two words are to say! When have you ever heard anyone admit to enjoying apologizing?
It is often difficult because we feel we are justified in our actions, point of view or spoken words. Pride also gets in the way too often, and the need to be right or the inability to see beyond our own hurt can easily trump the need to restore and heal the wrong done. Equally difficult and hurtful is finding ourselves as the person waiting for an apology from someone who has wronged us, and we are faced head on with that person’s pride. Although forgiveness should still be offered, there is no easy remedy for such hurt and too many relationships have been destroyed by such a snare.
Having been on both sides of this issue, and still struggling myself to be faithful in the lessons my husband and I have tried to teach our own children in the area of apologizing, I stand in agreement of a line I heard from a movie I was watching a few nights ago. In attempting to coax his son into offering an apology to make things right, the father spoke frankly, “There’s not a whole lot in this world that can’t be solved with an apology.”
In the end, it’s not about who was right or wrong, who was hurt most or who threw the first punch.
In the end, it really is about who’s the strongest!
Question: What is your greatest hindrance to offering an apology?