You look at the clock and before you can even fully register what time it is, there is a knock at the door. They’re here….On time. How rude. The house is not in the condition you hoped it would be but you have no choice other than to open the door and let them in. Into the mess that is your house that reflects the mess that is your life. Before they can hardly step in the door some of the first words out of your mouth are “sorry the house is such a mess….”
That small word then clears the air. It’s been acknowledged by you and brushed off by them. Moving on now. Cool.
But there is something I’ve been realizing in real life scenarios like this: there is a vital difference between the sentiment of “sorry” and of “I’m sorry.” Maybe you should be sorry the house is a mess. But, maybe you’re saying it for all the wrong reasons.
“Sorry” says please excuse and “I’m sorry” says please forgive. “Sorry” says don’t judge me and “I’m sorry” says I’m examining myself. “Sorry” says I’m afraid to offend you and “I’m sorry” says I’m afraid that I have hurt you. “Sorry” says I’m apologizing for what happened and “I’m sorry” says I’m apologizing for my personal part in it.
For me at least, “sorry” often comes from a place of insecurity or even more deeply, pride. Whereas “I’m sorry” often comes from a place of stability or even more deeply, humility.
I think there is this sense, especially among females, that we need to apologize for the very things that expose that we are not perfect.
Stop apologizing for your unwashed hair, your kids being loud, and your dishes being dirty.
Stop apologizing for crying hard or laughing loud or dreaming big.
Stop apologizing for not knowing all the answers.
You don’t have to validate yourself for being a hot mess and you also don’t have dismiss yourself for being put together sometimes.
You don’t have to explain yourself to every single person, every single time.
You don’t have to rationalize why you formula feed, or put your kids in daycare, or don’t buy them all (or any) organic food.
You don’t have to say you are sorry for every opinion you have and choice you make.
You don’t need forgiveness for what makes you different.
As a general rule, you don’t have to apologize to other people for things that don’t actually effect them. That do not harm them or hurt them or really even pertain to them.
Eat the cake.
Take a break.
Let your kids play in the dirt.
Show up without makeup on.
Ask for help.
But also, in a raw and repentant way, apologize. The real kind. The kind that says, “I’m sorry.” Those two words can be so hard to utter. So embarrassing. So unnatural. But so necessary.
When we blame or belittle
manipulate or mock
gossip or gripe
neglect or nag
abuse or accuse
When we point out the speck in someone else’s eye and miss the plank in ours.
When we are quick to speak and slow to listen.
When we go back on our word.
When we lash out in rage and when we grasp in selfishness.
When we slander our coworker or church member or classmate.
When we disrespect and disregard our spouse.
And yes, even when we lose it with our kids.
We can sheepishly come back, boldly look them in the eye, and even if our voices shake, we can proclaim the powerful words, “I am sorry.” True relationships happen here. Not in shallow sorry’s spoken from the mouth but with sincere I’m sorry’s that are spoken from the heart.
I’m sorry bridges gaps. It springs forth restoration and peace and humility. It exposes our humanity. It levels the playing field. It reminds us we are, in fact, in need.
I have heard this phrase before and I think it sums up, for Christians, this whole idea well: be your in-Christ self.
Self meaning you in all your idiosyncrasies and quirks. Your enneagram 9ness. Your type Aish tendencies. Your expressive and extroverted self. You don’t have to fully rid yourself of what makes you uniquely awkward and awesome.
In Christ meaning the new you who has been set free from sin and who is still daily dying to it. Your saved and sanctified self. The one that is being molded to look more and more like Jesus.
You can bravely be both unapologetically and repentantly, you.