It’s been said that “I’m Sorry” are the two most powerful words in the English language.
They are powerful, but “I’m Sorry” has everything to do with how you say those two high-powered words. The attitude you say them with and the degree to which you are believable are critical components. I’d like to offer you three powerful ways to say I’m Sorry, without confusion with your attitude, verbiage, or motivation. Let’s face it, we all need forgiveness.
We all need to forgive. Jesus said in Matthew 6, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Just a quick check-up before I jump into the three ways to say I’m Sorry: If you do not think you need to forgive someone, you might want to read the following a second time.
- Speak directly to the person offended, if at all possible. Share with them your heartfelt apology and commit yourself to attempting to never have to say sorry for the same offense again. This is always about your attitude. Most of us can smell a conniving I’m sorry a mile away. If you did it, apologize for it in person. Own it and learn from it. I’ve made more mistakes than most people in two lifetimes. I often need a reminder that my attitude was the problem all along.
- Offer up a peace offering. You cannot and should not attempt to buy your way out of an offense, but you can convey that you want to tangibly make amends with a sincere and thoughtful gift. The key words being sincere and thoughtful. Gifts that are attached to an apology require thought, effort and they should cost you something. Don’t offer up something that does not cost you anything. That’s not always monetary, but it does cost you something emotionally.
- Set your heart on not repeating the same offense with a commitment to consistency! Many offenses can be forgiven and forgiveness is an action. Other offenses require a season of forgiveness, grounded in consistent actions. All offenses require forgiveness accompanied by a contrite spirit and a broken heart.
For some of us, forgiveness is as simple as receiving an apology and saying “you are forgiven, I accept your apology.” For others, forgiveness is a season of waiting and watching. Watching to see how sincere the apology is and was. And then for others, we are scorekeeper apologists. We keep a score of offenses and use the scorecard as a tool to beat others into guilt.
Jesus was pretty dang clear on this. If you want to be forgiven – forgive! In that context, “I’m Sorry” might be as powerful as “I Love You.”