I can't believe another semester has already come and gone! Life really is moving too fast.
Someone should give it a speeding ticket!
At the end of each semester I like to look back on all of the things that I have learned. Truthfully, I hope I never forget anything I have learned here at BYU! (Except physical science, that can go.)
One of the lessons in particular that I have learned this semester that keeps coming to my mind day after day is how to give sincere apologies.
Earlier in the semester I wrote an essay for my "Preparation for Marriage," class on forgiveness in marriage. The essay made me reflect on how I personally handle giving and receiving apologies. Unfortunately, like most of the world... I haven't always done so hot.
Saying you're sorry is a painful thing. It's uncomfortable to admit that we have been wrong when we make a mistake. Because of this discomfort, often times we will just go in circles defending our inappropriate actions.
Satan uses our pride to keep us from bandaging up damaged relationships that would help allow us to reach our most full potential. From my essay I found a few ways to keep us from falling into that trap!
Here are 3 tips I learned for giving a more sincere apology:
1. When apologizing, be sincere and take responsibility.
At a BYU devotional address given by Richard B. Miller, he teaches that an apology needs to be given even when we can defend our actions or don't believe we are wrong.
"In order to be effective, an apology must be sincere and heartfelt. There needs to be evidence that you are truly sorry and that you are remorseful that you have hurt or offended your spouse. A flippant “sorry” rarely helps heal hurt feelings. In addition, a sincere apology includes taking responsibility for your mistake or offense. Too many apologies are poorly masked attempts to shift the responsibility for the problem to your spouse. 'I’m sorry that you took my comments the wrong way' or the classic 'I’m sorry that you can’t take a simple joke' are not really apologies. Instead, they are clumsy ways of manipulating the situation in order to place the blame on your spouse," Elder Miller, Repentance and Forgiveness in Marriage.
Insincere apologies that lack personal responsibility are riddled with "but you's."
"I'm sorry you took my words that way, but you..." or "I'm sorry you feel that way but you..."
We need to say enough with the buts! The truth is, when someone feels we have done something to hurt them, salvaging a relationship and helping them feel better is more important than getting off blame free. We should care more about their aching hearts than our bruised pride.
2. During an apology don't make excuses for why you made the mistake:
In all of the apologies that have been given since the dawn of time, I am going to guess that 90% of them were followed up with the reasoning of the accused for why the act was perpetrated.
"Making excuses for mistakes is another good way to avoid taking responsibility. Even though the excuse may be valid, including it as part of your apology undermines your sincerity. Saying “I’m really sorry that I snapped at you this morning, but I didn’t get much sleep last night” doesn’t work very well because you are passing responsibility for your poor behavior to a lack of sleep. Just apologize. If you want to provide some justification for your subpar behavior, do it later, after the hurt feelings have been smoothed over," Elder Miller, Repentance and Forgiveness in Marriage.
I love this quote. I have been working hard to apply it ever since I have read it. Truthfully it is very difficult, particularly when I feel justified in my actions. But I know that giving apologies without excuses allows our relationships to move forward without unresolved feelings.
3. When apologizing, speak in complete sentences.
This is HUGE! Just saying, "Oh sorry," in no way shows true feelings of remorse over hurting the feelings of another.
Here are some examples of complete apologies:
"I am sorry I came home late from work last night and made you miss what you were planning to do. It was very inconsiderate of me and I am going to work hard to be better. Can you forgive me dear?"
"I am sorry I stained your shirt when I wore it last week. I recognize that clothes are expensive and that we are both struggling college students. Can I replace it for you? Will you forgive me?"
"I am sorry I was late for curfew mom. That must have had you worried about me and that isn't fair. I promise I will be on time next time. How can I make things better?"
Take time to let people look in your eyes and believe you when you apologize. This will aid in keeping previous mistakes from coming up in current arguments. When we know someone has been sincere, there is less of an urge to throw old frustrations back at them.
We are so lucky to have the opportunity to save damaged relationships with sincere apologies!
The best way to keep Christ like love alive in each of our earthly relationships is to say we are sorry and to forgive completely.
I am so thankful for the life lessons my college education has given me. I know that if I seek to apply the things that I have learned during my time here at BYU, I will be a much better person in the future.
Cheers to another semester down!
Now let's party!!!!