Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I am Sorry

It has been postulated that the three most important words in any relationship are "I Love You." Important as those are, however, I would venture to guess those three words are probably number two. To me, "I am sorry," should be the number one phrase for any relationship. It may be hard to say, "I love you," but, in my opinion, "I am sorry," is by far harder. When somebody says he or she is sorry, that person is acknowledging a mistake has been made. Whoa! Now how many of us can admit to that?

For example, how many of us would be happier blaming our wives for getting us lost then admit we didn't know where we were going? C'mon, you know what I am talking about. You give her the map, pretty much convinced you already know where you're going, and then you come to a fork in the road. Naturally, you ask her, "Which way?" She stammers and ventures an educated guess. Unfortunately, it's wrong, and you go straight for the jugular, blurting out something like "If you'd learn to read a map, then we wouldn't be lost!" Boy, it felt good to get that off your chest, huh? The problem is whose responsibility was it to know where you're going? Whose responsibility was it to teach her the route? Who is really to blame? So, rather than go off on her, what about taking the responsibility and confessing, "I am sorry. I got us lost"?

That, as we all know, is a bitter pill to swallow.

Not too long ago I left something very important in a hotel room. The item was mine. The item was important to me. I left it. But the temptation when I found it was missing was to blame my wife. For after all, she was supposed to check the room to see if I left anything! No, I had to say, "I am sorry." I was the one who left it. It was my responsibility.

I make mistakes. I am not above taking responsibility for my actions. I mess up and I must confess and ask for forgiveness. It's not easy, but I learned from a master: my Dad.

My Dad's temper was legendary. He could yell, curse and argue with the best of them. One time I witnessed him rattle a store manager into giving him a cut of meat at a reduced price -- even though the ad was wrong, and the manager explained how it wasn't the store's fault. By the time Dad was through "explaining" his viewpoint, he -- and all the other shoppers that had gathered to witness this brutal exchange -- received the same discount. Such was his wrath.

I was on the receiving end of his anger many times growing up. But one thing I always remember is this: most of the time I deserved his discipline, and all of the time he would apologize to me for losing his temper. On one memorable occasion he berated me and banished me to my room with the words, "You are worthless."

That hurt.

Later that evening Dad came into my room, sat on my bed and confessed he was out of line. He explained how he said things in anger -- things I shouldn't believe. I was not worthless; I was worthy. The tears in his voice betrayed his emotion. From that day on I knew that no matter what the words were, he knew I was worthy.

When he said, "I am sorry," he made me who I am today -- a worthy child.

Not too shabby an outcome for three little words.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

I think the words "I am sorry" are greatly abused and overused.

Saying I am sorry is just too easy. "I was wrong" is , to me, a more meaningful phrase. Admittedly, it is harder to say that. Mainly because one then has to explain just what was done and how it may be corrected. The I am wrong phrase also implies that one is asking forgiveness. In my experience the I am wrong phrase seems to work much better than the trite old IAS.

Harvey Blessing