Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Power of Apology

I think it's safe to say that we have all screwed up and have had to apologize to others. Usually these are little things - I'm sorry I didn't get the dishes done. I'm sorry I was cranky last night. I'm sorry I said something to hurt your feelings.

But what about the bigger things? Does "I'm sorry" really cut it? Is it really enough?

I recently watched an episode of Law and Order: SVU where a group of adults came together discussing the rape and sexual abuse they went through as teenagers by teachers at the school they all had attended. The main teacher who hurt them had already died. The school had known about what was going on, but covered it up.

20 some years after the abuse - all these kids wanted was an admission of guilt and an apology. And that is all they got. And it was enough.

A true apology is two-fold. It is saying "I did this wrong." It is also saying "I am sorry." And it generally has a third piece - an action piece - a true attempt to not repeat that mistake. But for the purpose of this post, let's focus on the first two...

I was abused as a child. 20-some years later, I heard the words "I was wrong. I hurt you. I can't change the past, but I am sorry for it."

Up until that day, I had already forgiven him for my own sake because I didn't want to hold onto that pain. Or, at least, I thought I had forgiven him. But the day I heard those words, everything melted away. Everything became clear. A simple admission of wrong-doing and an apology was all it took.

There is tremendous power in a sincere apology. There is healing. There is hope. There is love. There is light that suddenly appears within the dark.

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