It’s Never Too Late To Apologize

A few years ago a friend of mine wrote a little bit about a particular song about a broken and dysfunctional relationship that was then popular on the radio [1], a song whose chorus proclaimed, “It’s too late to apologize.” As someone who pays a great deal of attention to the lyrical message of a song, I once sang an impromptu duet of this song with someone and had the opportunity to my duet partner if she agreed with the lyrics of the song, and she stated that if she did, she wouldn’t be having that conversation with me. That was a good answer, and one I agreed with. As someone who has mused a fair bit about apologies and their various forms [2] and proprieties in various areas of life, I must candidly confess that much of what I know about apologies comes from practice, whether it has been graciously appreciating the apologies of others, waiting in vain for long periods of time for other people to apologize to me, or making my own apologies to those whom I have offended over the course of my life (and sadly, there have been far too many of those people).

Earlier this afternoon, as I was upstairs ruminating on whether I wanted to snack or wait until it was time for dinner, I heard the faint ringing of my phone downstairs and rushed down to answer the call. It happened to be a phone call about the wild goose chase I was sent on yesterday to Hillsboro [3], an apology from the person who had given me the incorrect information along with appreciation for me, which I was very pleased to receive and very gracious to respond to. Having had to forgive others for some pretty serious offenses in the course of my life (including, but not limited to rape, child abuse, conspiracy to commit a murder), I do my best not to hold onto minor grudges or offenses, given that I have plenty of my own offenses against others to be forgiven of as well and that holding on to bitterness for minor and unintentional slights is not a good way to prepare to be treated graciously for one’s own slights.

This morning I was looking through my Facebook friends list and I noticed that someone I had been a friend with some time ago was no longer a friend and had apparently cleaned up her friends list. For some time after a major and unpleasant incident between us, she had kept up the friendship, for reasons that I did not entirely understand but also did not take advantage of, except to wish her a happy birthday in my usual polite way. Though at one time this person had claimed not to wish any apologies from me, considering them to be useless without some action, I suspect that she might have been a bit hurt by my long silence (as I was seeking not to bother her at all given what had transpired between us). I was also hoping that maybe she too would send an apology that went something like this:

“I’m sorry that things had to happen the way that they did. I know you meant no harm to me and that I overreacted and that I said some things and encouraged other people to say some things about you that weren’t true and that were mean and hurtful to your reputation. While I don’t expect you to necessarily like me very much, as your sister in Christ I wish to be forgiven and to have a clean slate, and that I wish you well in your life and I hope all is going well. I also appreciate that you haven’t bothered me at all even though we have not been that far away from each other for months.”

To which I would have replied something like this:

“Thanks for your apology. I really appreciate having heard from you after all these months and that you bear me no ill will. I am sorry for making you feel frightened, and for getting carried away in my writing and behavior, and I thank you for having seen that I meant you no harm even when you had done me great harm yourself. I hope everything goes well for you, and that if God wills that we should meet again that we would be able to do it as friends and as brothers and sisters in Christ without any hurts or resentments.”

So, why haven’t I written my own apology note, since one is clearly warranted? I do not know why the other person has not written me one, but it is always easier for us to see how we have been wronged than to see how we have wronged others. In some cases, though, and this is one (though, sadly, not the only one), I have felt constrained about sending apology notes because I have felt (often with reason) that any attempt at communication would be viewed as harassment or stalking, and would be counterproductive to the purposes of healing breaches and restoring damaged or broken relationships. In an atmosphere of fear where there is not mutual respect or understanding of good character and positive motives and purposes, even apologies or efforts at restoring communication can be viewed as a threat. While I wish my life was absent from these concerns, so it is.

Nevertheless, I believe it’s never too late to apologize. Sometimes time and situation must allow us to put a perspective on our own behavior and that of others, to recognize the sensitivities and concerns of others and to allow matters to rest at least until they can be acted upon in good faith and open and sincere communication on all parties concerned. While it may be a bit frustrating for the time to be seemingly wasted in silence and in waiting for an apology, at the very least so long as all parties concerned are honorable and decent (and especially Christian) folk, then we can have faith that the time it took to do something right and to show honor and respect to all concerned will lead to an lifetime, and even an eternity filled with good feelings and restored relationships. At least it’s something we can look forward to, right?


[2] Here are some of the relevant entries:


About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Church of God, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to It’s Never Too Late To Apologize

  1. Pingback: I Remember My Faults This Day | Edge Induced Cohesion

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  4. Pingback: An Apology For A Short Post | Edge Induced Cohesion

  5. Pingback: We Have No Need To Answer You In This Matter | Edge Induced Cohesion

  6. Pingback: On The Awkwardness Of Apologies | Edge Induced Cohesion

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