This last week was busy - fourteen mediations, almost three a day; some mediations lasting two hours; and most ended successfully-redemptive. Participants did much heavy lifting, truly making "every effort" to reconcile. Apology, of course, was a huge part of their work. Apology is important - we even have songs about it.
In 1960, Brenda Lee recorded her signature song
which hit number one on the Billboard pop chart and became her first gold single. Brenda touches on a vibrant theme in conflict resolution. People who experience conflict usually have a basic request when seeking to restore a broken relationship and they often tell me, "All I want is a simple apology." Apology offers a powerful step toward the experience of forgiveness but most of the time expressing apology is not a simple task. While Brenda's song was a big hit, her apology actually comes up short. She sang,
"I'm sorry, so sorry that I was such a fool. I didn't know love could be so cruel. Oh, oh, oh, oh, uh-oh, oh, yes. You tell me mistakes are part of being young but that don't right the wrong that's been done. (I'm sorry) I'm sorry (So sorry) So sorry. Please accept my apology but love is blind and I was to blind to see. Oh, oh, oh, oh, uh-oh, oh, yes."
Brenda does not express what she said or did to offend the other party. Instead, her apology sounds more like an excuse. "I am sorry that I was a fool. I am sorry I didn't know love was so cruel (and, therefore, I am a victim too). I am sorry I am young and make mistakes. I am sorry that love impaired my vision."
Brenda does make one comment that has some merit when singing about youthful mistakes,
"but that don't right the wrong that's been done."
She is right to recognize that apology is supposed to help right the wrong. While her excuses offer some explanation why she hurt the other person, her attempt at apology does not say what she owned in the conflict. How could Brenda say a meaningful apology?
Here is a
to the New Path Center website that offers some basic "101" elements to making an apology.
Also, recently Metanoia Ministries/Restoring the Church offered the following excellent resource:
How to say, "I'm sorry," and really mean it. The first in a series of four articles on virtue and confession. The reason why most confessions fail is for lack of brokenness. What is brokenness? and why is it essential for authentic confession? Discover how to apologize in a way that honors Christ.
Here is a
to the Restoring the Church website.