“I’m sorry.” … “I apologize.” … “I made a mistake.” … “I screwed up.”
We have all said one ((or all)) of these at one ((or many)) points in our lives. We all move into adulthood with baggage of brokenness, diversities of dysfunction, ranges of relating, complexities in coping. When our brokenness, dysfunction, relating, and coping collide with another’s BDRC, soul wounds are compounded. Our learned way of typical response to these collisions is to: (a) retreat and nurture the hurt; (b) engage and elevate the hurt; or (c) offer apology and sweep it under a metaphorical rug. If we are honest in our reflections, we will recognize that the way most of us were taught (and taught our own children) to apologize looked much like this:
Parent: (leaning over child and making very serious eye contact with a very serious tone) Say you’re sorry to ________ for ________.
Child: (tone mirroring the child’s attitude through gritted teeth) I’m sooorry…
Parent: (mimicking child’s attitude through gritted teeth) Not with that tone… say it like you mean it.
Child: (realizing that they have to fake an apology and soften their tone to reclaim their childhood freedom for the moment) I’m sorry.
Parent: Okay. Now play/be/act/behave nice.
What was learned in this interaction? The lesson is that when we overtly or covertly hurt someone, a verbal apology (without seeking forgiveness) and putting on an act of good behavior (without real repentance) will resolve the conflict and collisions of doing life. If we say certain words (without meaning them) with a certain tone or countenance (without feeling them), then we have done our part and are absolved of wrongdoing. We have propagated a great fallacy that cheapens the price Christ paid – with His blood in a day and separation from God for three days – for our salvation, healing, maturity, freedom.
A necessary element of salvation is to acknowledge and confess our sins and transgressions to God and yield them to the immediate redeeming, justifying work of Jesus on the Cross. After that, we have access to healing, maturity, freedom from our sins and transgressions as we surrender our souls to the resurrection power of Jesus from the Tomb and the transforming, sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. This access is not automatic, and it is rarely “one and done.”
“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” ~ II Corinthians 7:10
True, godly sorrow works reversal of thought AND reformation of actions. It is not lip service. It is not arguing the semantics of what words are or aren’t used in an apology. Godly sorrow that produces repentance is a soul sadness that causes one to see the brokenness in their own thought patterns and belief systems that are manifesting through words and actions (Luke 6:45). When we practice godly sorrow, we will not live in the mire of regret but in the salvation of safety and health. Godly sorrow says the words, means the words, and lives the words that will breathe life and forgiveness. Godly sorrow is being sorry for what I have done to another and how it affects them.
Conversely, worldly sorrow works regret of consequences and death of relationships. Worldly sorrow is a version of soul-killing through words without equity and unchanged, hurtful behavior. It does not seek to forgive or be forgiven. The Greek translation of “world” is “orderly arrangement, that is, decoration.” Don’t miss this. Everything God has done in creation and does for His Kingdom the enemy will counterfeit. Just as God arranged the world in an orderly fashion and has decorated it with beauty, the enemy seeks to arrange the world according to his rule and decorate it with wickedness. Worldly sorrow is literally a sadness, grief that is orderly arranged and worn as a decoration…or placed on another as a decoration.
What is a decoration? In the context of this topic, I submit that sorrow and apology of the world merely serves the same purpose as placing ornaments on a Christmas tree or wearing make-up on the face (not that I am against either…I do them both!)…it is a finite effort to dress up or surface mask what is hiding underneath. This type of sorrow produces resentment and bitterness and unforgiveness, which are death to the heart and death to relationships. Worldly sorrow is being sorry for what I have done to another because of how it affects me.
Let’s practice godly sorrow as we evict worldly sorrow. Practice grace. Practice forgiveness. From glory to glory. Hey, I get it. Working out our salvation with fear and trembling is often soul-wrenching work. It might even make you (ME) say Christian cuss words. It might make you lose sleep. It will be uncomfortable. But it is a necessary work.
Learning and Growing With You ~
”Live Intentionally, Love Authentically”