Maybe the reason we’re stuck within this national tragedy is because we haven’t yet found the right apology.
In their book, “The Five Languages of Apology,” Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas explore the differences between various apologies. Sometimes “I’m sorry” just isn’t enough because each of us comes to forgiveness via a different perspective.
Express Regret is the type of apology we usually hear – when someone has done something wrong and says, “I’m sorry.” But often, that just isn’t enough.
A prime example was my three-year-old sister. We were fighting one day and although I was the older sibling, she whacked me over the head. My mother forced her to apologize, but all my sister could muster was, “I’m torry, tupid.” Not exactly a genuine apology.
Sometimes expressing regret is just too simple and carries with it no remorse for the wrong done. Therefore, it means nothing.
Accept Responsibility: This type of apology admits “I was wrong” and genuinely accepts all responsibility for the failure. No excuses given. No “but this is why I did it.” Just a simple admittance of guilt.
Make Restitution: Restitution shows a strong effort to make amends and right the wrong. It asks the question, “How can I make this right? What can I do to pay you back or to help you somehow forgive me?”
This is the type of apology Prison Fellowship works to initiate. Those who are incarcerated for their crimes work to pay back those they have wronged. As much as possible, they make a valiant effort to right the wrong.
Genuinely Repent: My toddler sister could not genuinely repent, because she wasn’t truly sorry. If given a chance, she would have thwacked me again. When a person repents, they desire to modify their behavior. They make a dedicated plan for change and take action steps toward that change.
This is not an immediate fix. It takes time and concentrated endeavors. It often involves trial and error to finally get it right – to break a stronghold, to change an addictive behavior, to make laws that are fair to everyone.
Request Forgiveness: This deeper type of apology goes beyond the easy “I’m sorry” as it asks for forgiveness and names the specific wrong that has been done. For example: “Please forgive me for dishonoring our friendship and betraying your confidence.” This is a combination of “I’m sorry” plus accepting responsibility and the accompanying consequences.
Most of us respond to at least one and maybe two apology languages. The tricky part is figuring out which one to initiate when we have committed a wrong.
The best way to do that is to be honest with each other and express the truth. Tell each other what we need to hear and the changes we need to see in order to truly forgive.
Using the right apology, even on a national level, seems like a step in the right direction.
©2014 RJ Thesman – author of the Reverend G books – http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh