“It takes a great deal of character strength to apologize quickly out of one’s heart rather than out of pity. A person must possess himself and have a deep sense of security in fundamental principles and values in order to genuinely apologize.” – Walt Whitman.
I am a person who apologizes too much and not enough. Often times, I apologize more when I don’t need to than when I actually do. I think the reason why someone like myself tends to apologize when it is not needed is because one does not think apologizing will make a difference. It seems easier to apologize when it is not necessary than when it absolutely is. However, based off my own life experiences there are three important reasons why apologizing, even when it hurts, the most matters.
Before one can fully understand why apologizing is important, one must examine their practice of apologizing. It is hardest for me to apologize when I say something hurtful to someone. In the mere moments that I have sat here writing this blog, all of my most difficult moments have flooded back. Every single one of them have something in common: I said something hurtful. It does not matter if that person was my husband, my mom or my dad, my boss, etc. The list of people I hurt seems endless, but the root cause remains the same.
Now, it is significant why each of those moments revolved around words. My love language is words. I feel most loved, appreciated, and valued by others through words of affirmation. In my weakest moments, I yearn for words of truth about Christ and I yearn to hear that someone still loves me even amidst all my sin. It may not be the same for everyone, but most people probably have a similar pattern in one way, shape, or form. Yes, everyone says things in anger they may regret later.
However, depending on who you are, your anger may manifest in other more prevalent ways as well. For example, if your love language is acts of service, you may not clean something to get back at someone who has hurt you. If your love language is gifts, you may give someone a less thoughtful gift because the last gift you received wasn’t meaningful in your eyes. If your love language is touch, you may have the tendency to throw things at someone in a rampage. If your love language is quality time, you may avoid someone in anger. It is funny how our love languages can be our greatest source of comfort and our greatest source of conflict.
My previous paragraph is not one of justification but one of self-examination. The most effective way to apologize is to look at yourself and not the other person. It is not about figuring out how best you operate with the intent to manipulate. Understanding our response to anger helps us as individuals see what the root cause for said anger most likely was. We use our love language to feel loved and to reject love as well.
Apologizing expresses love. When we fail to apologize not only are we rejecting love but it is also a form of lack of love towards the other person. If you truly love or loved someone, nothing should stop you from apologizing to them. No act or word should be able to completely rid of genuine, unconditional love.
Apologizing is an act of humility. It shows that you realize you are not perfect, nor are you the best thing that hit this earth. We all make mistakes. However, it matters most when we are able to acknowledge those mistakes and admit that we messed up.
Most important, apologizing matters because it makes one aware of their need for forgiveness. After apologizing, one usually seeks forgiveness from the offended party. People typically cannot see they need forgiveness until an apology is necessary. Until then, there is no evident mistake in their eyes.
I challenge you to learn what your love language. Then, examine why and when you apologize most. You may see a pattern. You may have the tendency to retaliate with your own love language instead of apologizing. If you do, try to change it because no matter how much we think otherwise the problem is within ourselves and no one else. Regardless, when you apologize make sure it is genuine and done out of love.