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Why So Hard?

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    Why is it so hard? You’ve been there. It’s a part of life we don’t like to talk about, but spend a lot of our thought-time either trying to ignore or replaying over. But, the only thing we can truly do to correct the situation, restore the damaged relationship, rebuild trust, and get a fresh start is the one thing we so tenaciously resist. We find it hard to genuinely say, “I’m sorry! I was wrong... I blew it... It was my fault... I apologize.” In the words of the old Elton John song, “Sorry seems to be the hardest word.”

    I heard several excuses for our reluctance. First, many of us are sick of hearing cornered politicians and leaders say, “I’m sorry,” when have had ample opportunity to say so before being backed into a corner. After giving denial after denial and smokescreen after smokescreen, their apology comes only when they have run out of alternatives. What we hear them say is, “I’m sorry I got caught.” We don’t want to be part of the hypocritical hoard who uses “I’m sorry,” to be their emergency parachute. Second, with the increasingly litigious environment we find ourselves in, “I’m sorry,” can be perceived as an open door to lawsuit. We’re afraid to “pony up” to our errors, mistakes, and sins for fear of legal reprisals. So it becomes easier for us to obfuscate, confuse, and throw out a smokescreen than to “own up” to our own transgressions.

Our pride gets in our way!
    Know what? I don’t buy it! I believe the real reason we find it hard to say, “I’m sorry,” usually doesn’t have anything to do with those excuses. It’s really much more basic; our pride gets in our way! We don’t like to admit failure. We don’t want to be seen as weak or flawed. We don’t want to admit to ourselves, or to others, that we failed. It’s a “plain ol’ pride problem” that stands in our way. We simply don’t believe the truth of Proverbs 11:2, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

    In reality, most situations do not get better until we do admit our failure and say, “I’m sorry!” Often the only way “out of the woods” is our honest, un-coerced admission of our own failure. When we offer it genuinely, when we are not forced into it and don’t use it to be manipulative, saying “I’m sorry!” is our best choice. It can de-escalate a growing conflict. It can erect a bridge over troubled waters. It can tear down the tension and barriers that have grown between parties because of avoidance and denial.

    So why is it so hard to for us to genuinely say, “I’m sorry”? Once all the intellectual hurdles are cleared, maybe what makes it so hard is our lack of practice. Unfortunately, most of us won’t have to wait too long before we get a new opportunity to say, “I’m sorry!” Let’s just make sure when the opportunity comes, we get started saying it right away. When we do, we’ll find it gets easier to say to say with practice, and we’ll also find our admission of failure is powerfully effective at preventing our need to say it in the future!

    In reality, when we’ve blown it, sorry seems to be the finest word!

If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. (Matthew 5:23-24 “The Message”)

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When You've Really Messed Up
Boy, I Blew It!
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About the Author...
Phil Ware is minister of the Word at Westover Hills Church of Christ in Austin, Texas. For the past 4 years, he has also been co-editor of HEARTLIGHT Magazine. For more details, click here.

Title: "Why So Hard?"
Author: Phil Ware
Publication Date: March 20, 2000



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