Tuesday, September 25, 2018
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The beauty of an apology

“I’m sorry” pops out of my mouth even before I know that my lips have moved. It’s a mantra that I repeated throughout the day. I was sorry if I bumped into someone. I was sorry if I thought I was in the way. I was sorry if I perceived you were unhappy or inconvenienced. I was sorry that I was occupying space on the planet and taking up the air I breathed.


This has become a bad habit like the meaningless use of a four letter word. It adds no value to communication with my fellows on the planet and hinders true expression. “I am sorry” is like a cheap paper cup in language form. It does not hold anything of real substance or value.


“I apologize” comes out of my mouth more slowly and with the reluctance of exposing the truth of my heart. Taking responsibility for a harm I caused is uncomfortable yet produces a soothing balm offered for the pain in another. It’s not quickly spoken or given lightly, but shared with thought and intention.

This is a discipline not easily come by, nor a good habit easily produced. It requires intention, purpose, and choice. Value and understanding is offered in an authentic apology. “I sincerely apologize” is like a fine china tea cup in expression.

What I notice the most is the result of both of these statements. “I’m sorry” spoken quickly rarely engages a response or exchange of ideas. It often is one-sided and promotes no further understanding. On the other hand, “I apologize” spoken with thoughtful attention to make amends engages the heart of another and opens the possibility for further exchange. It does not ensure forgiveness or resolution, but offers the invitation.

Recently, I experienced the opportunity to sincerely apologize for a harm that I had caused. It was received and accepted. Then, my expression was met with an apology in return and a taking of responsibility that matched my own. The experience was so beautiful and healing.

I know what it is like to drink from a paper cup. I have had the privilege of drinking from a fine china tea cup. Similarly, I have quickly spoken an “I am sorry” and genuinely offered an “I sincerely apologize.” The richness and beauty of the experience of making sincere amends is one that I will not soon forget. It has sparked my desire for the “finer things.