Apologies and Forgiveness?

Apologies and Forgiveness?

Since the discovery of the bodies of 215 children at the former Kamloops residential school we have heard the repeated call for an apology from the Roman Catholic Church.

I’m unsettled by this request. Now, keep your hats on. I’ll explain why. In my mind an apology has no real long-term effect and does little to build relationship between two parties (groups or individuals) where trust is broken. In the case of the damage done in the residential school system in Canada, an apology is, in my mind, rather lame. Yes, it’s an acknowledgement of damage done by those who crafted the whole system in the first place, but little else is accomplished. There is no attempt at bridge building between the two parties, between the offenders and the victims. It may be the first step towards healing, but it is only a baby step.

Here’s my thinking…you can absolutely challenge me if you wish!

What is an apology and is it the same as asking for forgiveness?

An apology, according to Merriam-Webster, is an admission of error or discourtesy accompanied by an expression of regret. Forgiveness is to cease to feel resentment against an offender.

So, saying “I’m sorry” is not the same as saying “Will you forgive me?”

Asking for forgiveness means the victim is free to choose whether or not to forgive, to let go of resentment and move towards restoration of relationship (if possible).

These are two very different acts. I think “I’m sorry. I messed up.” needs to be followed by “Will you forgive me?”

According to an article by Life Unscripted Counseling, we DO need to learn to be great apologizers because we’re constantly messing up in our relationships. One statement in this article caught my attention:

…unacknowledged injuries can build up over time and create a great deal of resentment.

In the case of the residential schools, centuries of unacknowledged injuries have built up over time. So, what do we do? How can we begin to build bridges? The article continues…

 So how do you work to soothe and heal those injuries? You have to know the difference between saying “I’m sorry” and       asking for forgiveness.

When you say “I’m sorry”, it tends to be quick. It’s an acknowledgement that you caused injury, but it lacks understanding of the pain it caused your mate.

Asking for forgiveness is way different and way deeper than saying “I’m sorry”. When you ask for forgiveness, not only do you acknowledge that you’ve caused hurt, but you also work to understand the pain it caused your partner, how it impacted them and are clear of what that experience was like for them.

Asking for forgiveness is about moving into your partner’s experience and perspective.  It’s not about “me too”.  It’s actually not about you at all. It’s about them. 

And asking for forgiveness doesn’t come with an expiration date.  Yes, it’s best to resolve injuries and hurt in a relatively short amount of time. But if you’ve missed the opportunity to ask for forgiveness, there is no time like the present.        https://lifeunscriptedcounseling.com/blog/saying-im-sorry-vs-asking-for-forgiveness

This is a good word for us. There’s no time like the present to ask for forgiveness.

Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.” Luke 17:1-4

We have been rebuked. For centuries, the church has been a stumbling block for many little ones, literally. Isn’t it time to own up to the ways we have messed up, repent, and ask for forgiveness?