Too Late to Apologize?

I’ve worked a lot of different places, as you know.  Most of them, people owned up to their mistakes and took their lumps.  Well, okay, harder to make happen when you work with engineers.  But the rest of us common folk have learned when we botch a job, we ‘fess up and move on. We learn from our mistakes.  At least, that’s what I was taught.

It seems apologies are out of fashion now. Look at our role models – professional athletes, politicians, entertainers. Which brings us to ask, what does it even mean to apologize?  People in the limelight only tend to confess when they’re caught.  Is this a true apology? Google has this to say:

  1. express regret for something that one has done wrong.
    “I must apologize for disturbing you like this”
    synonyms: say (one is) sorry, express regret, be apologetic, make an apology, ask forgiveness, ask for pardon;

    informal eat one’s words, eat humble pie
    “please allow me to apologize for my wrongful accusations”

It’s never easy to apologize.  Nobody likes to stand up and say “I was wrong.”  We like it even less when we have to say “Please forgive me.” But it’s necessary.  It heals and repairs.  Nobody has all the answers in this life.

At one place I worked, I made a mistake.  Kind of a big one, if my recollection serves.

“I’m so sorry,” I said to my boss.

“You don’t need to apologize,” he said, squirming at my honesty.  He smiled a self-conscious smile.

I thought it strange.  Of course I needed to seek pardon.  I made the mistake.  I cost the company money, time, etc. Taking the hits is part of life, isn’t it?  You fall down.  You dust yourself off and get back up again.  Right?

Our culture has made apologizing into something of a witch hunt.  If we say we’re sorry, we admit our culpability.  And that, friends, is very bad.  The definition of culpability is “responsibility for a fault or wrong; blame”.  Yes.  We bear the blame for things.  If we get to bear the glory of our success, failure is her evil twin.

Does this mean everything is our fault if it fails?  No.  Of course not.  Many factors come into play in this life.  Weather.  Finances.  Poor decisions on the part of others.  But some things lie directly under our control.  Those responsibilities remain in our bailiwick.  Our families.  Our relationships. The bulk of our job duties.

One of the most famous Biblical apologies came from King David. As you may recall, he cheated on his wife with the lovely Bathsheba.  She conceived from that tryst.  David arranged for Bathsheba’s husband to get killed. God didn’t like any of this.  Confronted by the prophet Nathan, David repented. He wrote a psalm to commemorate the occasion.

Have mercy on me, O God,
    because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
    blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
    Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
    it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
    I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
    and your judgment against me is just…- Psalm 51:1-4

Did David experience true repentance?  Scripture proves that he did.  The first baby with Bathsheba died of an infant illness.  The second son they had together they named Solomon.  Solomon grew up to become a very wise king, influential and wealthy in his era.  God redeemed what started out as a bad situation.

Apologizing should be a part of our lives.  We don’t live in a bubble.  We say and do things that impact others. Let our conscience guide our interactions and let God take care of the rest. He brings beauty from ashes.


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