Offering sincere apologies

February 3, 2009

The small featured article on Fox Channel last night really caught my interest.  The book by author Gary Chapman called The Five Languages of Apology. Chapman also authored the bestseller book entitled “Five Love Languages.”

I have been thinking of this issue in recent weeks.  We have all committed mistakes and have caused offenses in our relationships. I have seen many church members leave their congregations because of ruptured relationships.

There were times when the apologies seemed sincere, yet there were still not accepted.

There have been times when the apologies were made hurriedly so that the issue will be immediately closed.

In our counseling classes, the person who is offering the apologies need to understand several things first before assuming that his apologies are going to be accepted well.

In one recent conversation, one person was asking for an apology – but it was not received because the other person said “you don’t even know what you have done. How can you apologize for something you could not even admit to doing?” When the proper admission of the hurt that has been caused is missing, the apology being offered is always seen as a one-way direction, that manipulates the other person to minimize his pain.

Dr Chapman powerfully shared the 5 languages as such:

1. EXPRESSING REGRET – many times the offending person fail to acknowledge the pain that has been caused.  Many times they would give a litany of excuses to their offending behavior.  There have been times when the offended person is pointed out as the cause of it all.  “If you did not answer me with that tone….”  Such expressions are reactive and deterministic. They do not express sympathy. They do not convey regret surrounded by the understanding of the emotions felt by the offended person.

Say it sincerely.  Say sorry for how the behavior has hurt the other person. Do not offer up any excuses.  Do not point to the behavior of the other person.

2. ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY – coming up with excuses is very tempting.  But we must acknowledge our faults. Name what you have done. Do not minimize it – but just state it as it is.  Doing so does wonders for the other person.  The fact that you are able to name it as such, already offers a sincere understanding of what you have caused.  Accept your fault. No excuses, just plainly accept your fault and what you have done wrong.

In our culture, this is severely lacking.  We tend to minimize what we had done by saying “pag pasensyahan mo na ako…” or “bear with me..” and the we come up with other things that we think will make the behavior justifiable : ” nagdilim utak ko (everything went black), nakainom ako ( i was drunk), uminit na ulo ko (i lost my cool), tumaas na presyon ko..(my blood pressure rose up!)  and other things pertaining to our health that may have caused us to act that way…”

Don’t feel sorry about your blood pressure rising up.  Say sorry and admit that you screamed at the other person.

3. MAKING RESTITUTION – could you imagine what would happen to discussions that seek to restore things that have been broken because of conflict.  Now that you had admitted it, seek ways by which things will be restored.  Don’t force the other person to act the same way prior to the conflict.  Don’t equate forgiveness with restoration.  Forgiveness is a necessary path to restoration – but there are times that even when forgiveness has been done, restoration does not automatically follow.  Being forgiven does not give us the “right” to be restored according to our time frame.  Only God can do that.  I remember an erring father who shouted at his family “if you had already forgiven me, then you would accept me in this house!”  The whole family was terrified because of his drinking sprees and subsequent violent behavior.  So I remember stepping in and said “yes you have been forgiven… but it will take awhile for your relationship with your family to be restored.  So please step back and let your family heal without you first.”

In making restitution, we are basically asking “how can I make this right?”

4. SHOWING GENUINE REPENTANCE . The offending party seeks to show a genuine desire to change the behavior.  One is usually tempted to give promises they cannot keep just to prove how truly repentant they are.  Instead of doing this, seek ways by which you can truly change the behavior that caused the hurt.

5. REQUESTING FORGIVENESS. A direct, simple and straight-forward statement would suffice. “Will you please forgive me?”.  Can you understand why asking for forgiveness right away without a proper acknowledgment of the errant behavior, would not be very palatable?  A request for forgiveness involves humility and a sincere desire to be forgiven. Requesting forgiveness is as such – a request. It is not something we can demand from others or manipulate  others to give to us.

I pray that we begin offering sincere apologies for the wrongs we have done.  Learning the languages of apology would really help us be restored back in those relationships once damaged by conflict, real or imagined.

Advertisements

Serenity Prayer

January 4, 2009

This is my first post for 2009.  The Christmas break is ending soon and it seemed like it just came and went.  Now the Christmas lantern needs to be taken down and other christmas decors need to be put away.  I had barely enjoyed the lights and now it is back to the usual grind.

Let me share with you this Serenity Prayer.

May it usher peace in your hearts during those dark and discouraging moments.  I read this again and again tonight, and the more I did, the more I realize its simplicity and its profundity.

God, grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,

enjoying one moment at a time:

accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;

taking, as Jesus did,

this sinful world as it is,

not as I would have it:

trusting that You will make all things right

if I surrender to your will;

so that I may be reasonably happy in this life

and supremely happy with you  forever in the next.

AMEN

Reinhold Niebuhr

Yesterday morning when I checked my phone for any messages that were sent through the night, there was one message sitting there from one of the youth leaders that I have mentored.  His text said “thanks for prayers. Now I can buy a laptop.”

I smiled at the thought because I have told him a couple of times that I had been praying for a laptop to help him with his seminary studies.  At a Board meeting last month, he even suggested that I need to upgrade this laptop I am using and then simply hand this to him.  I thought it would be feasible, but these hard times call on us to be more frugal.  But I kept praying that God would give him the means to buy his own.

And God did.  He will be buying a similar laptop ( Dell, of course.)

Then yesterday afternoon, I checked my email and there was another encouraging email for me from another young man whom I had taken in as my younger brother.

I was really encouraged by what he wrote as a response to a quick email I sent through my cellphone last week. I was walking in Megamall and chanced to see the place where we had our conversation.  This younger brother was at that time, out of work and I was trying to be helpful when I said “why don’t you try working in a cruise ship?”

Well, he has been working on a cruise ship for more than a year now and I have not heard from him in recent months, and last week at that mall, I suddenly remembered how he was when we last talked.

Over a cup of coffee at Seattles Best in Caltex along SLEX, this young man poured out his heart.  The store was about to close but the manager sensing the sensitivity of our conversation, politely told us that we can stay for a couple of minutes more.

But this email I received yesterday was very different from how he felt as we talked last.  He was full of hope and he was beginning to understand how God has been patiently working in his life. He has grown amazed at the love of Jesus and how in his surrender, the Lord is beginning to transform him especially since he is outside his comfort zone.

He even attached several pictures and one of them showed him practicing with a worship band.  He attends Bible Studies and regular worship services.

I had to smile when he said that he would like to help out at our youth camp as soon as he gets home next year.  And he quickly added “we need to talk right away when I get back…”

It was awesome. His email made me smile and made me teary-eyed at the same time.  I was really grateful that God had not given up on him and how God had allowed him to go through some difficult times (like being mugged and beaten on his birthday last year!)

Thank you Lord for keeping him safe as they travel through the different ports.

Thank you Lord for looking after him and allowing him to benefit from the work of his hands.

Lead him away from any temptations and walk with him God through the discouraging times.

When loneliness sets in because of him being away, surround him with people who will affirm your love toward him.

Thank you for allowing us to have a small part in his life. It is a privilege to have shared a part of his journey with him and we look forward to sharing many more with him.

He ended his email with the usual “gotta go but will keep in touch…”

The last line of his email made my heart swell with joy and pride…

” I love you Kuya…”

Thank you Lord for allowing us to invest our lives on others, and in doing so, you have enriched ours a thousand times over.

I was serenaded last night!

October 20, 2008

Well, I was twisting and turning…. because I was playing Jawbreakers on my Ipaq last night trying to make myself sleepy as I connect all those colorful balls when i started hearing a guitar being faintly strummed.

My wife woke up and said someone is playing a guitar at our gate.

Oh my…I initially thought, what in the world? Then I realized… it was a little past midnight and I was being serenaded with a happy birthday song.

Took awhile because we had to refrain Peanut – and yes, had to make sure that I was dressed up!

There on the gate was Bret (who turned 18 last Monday) and Al and Gian and Bret’s mom Jina.  And they started singing “happy birthday”…. I was pleasantly surprised.

They just wanted to greet me in their simple way. Al was beginning to explain why Don, his brother was not there because he fell asleep.

It was a nice touch.  The first time it was done for me was in Baguio 2004 and my wife was part of the plan.  She may have known about what was going to happen last night – because now, as I remember it, she was very calm despite being woken up.

It was a simple gesture – and I really appreciated being “serenaded” by the teens who are also very involved in our youth camps.  And hey, for 3 male teens to plan this up, actually wait, and really sing in the middle of the night? Whooaaa, I would give it an A+ for the effort.

It was a sweet gesture.  And if I may borrow the line from the Mastercard commercial..”priceless…”

Now let me cash it to the bank so I can get an Omnia! hehehehehe

Thanks Bret, Al and Gian.

Now time for me to go down and eat the fondant cake my wifey made for me.

Will post pics later.

A young friend took off for the United States today. His flight left at 10:30 AM today. I did not get to see him anymore the past couple of days as he was also busy getting his things prepared, being with his family and all the myriad things an overseas worker would need to consider.

I was really glad that he was able to come over and spend the night with us last month. He even cooked dinner at home. After dinner, we drove to a nearby Seattle’s Best for our one-on one, brother to brother talk. When he first got home, I was able to join him and other friends for a dinner. Well he privately sought me out because he needed to get something off his chest. And there at the Seattle’s Best, was our one and only opportunity to have that talk.

It lasted up to almost midnight. The coffee shop was already about to close, but the manager sensed the earnest private conversation taking place and was very careful not to interrupt.

He shared about the all too familiar difficulties of being away from home. Of going through homesickness and feelings of isolation. Of working so hard and wondering if in the end, it was all going to be worth it. We talked about his faith, his challenges, his misguided perception of God’s love for him, his plan to get married next year… it was a great time being with him. I took note of his need to read letters from home when he is far from the signals of any telecommunication networks.

He asked me a question that evening which stayed with me, and perhaps will be one of those questions that will stay for a long time. But this time, I knew the answer to his question. I suspect deep down, he knew the answer as well. But the circumstances in his life distracted him for the most part, in believing the answer to that. The answer to his question while easy to give, is quite challenging to live out. It takes faith. It takes dependence and it takes surrender for one to really experience the deepest grace from the question he asked.

Lord, take care of my younger brother as he set sail for another chapter in his life overseas. The challenges are many and the temptation to get distracted from his relationship with you would be constant. Embrace Him Lord and never let Him go. Remind him that He is your son and that You are fond of him. Protect him Lord from any accidents, any accusations or any untoward incidents that will negatively impact his work and his dreams. Bring my younger brother safely back to us next year. Bless the work of his hands. Thank you for his life. Thank you for his strong sense of responsibility which is becoming un-common among the younger generation. He is trying to live a selfless life for his mom and siblings and niece and nephew. People are counting and relying on him for their financial well-being. Bless his family through him.

Thank you for J.D. I am proud to be one of his mentors and older brothers. I look forward to his return. I entrust his safety and well-being in the hands of Jesus, who loves him more than any of us could.


In the precious name of Your Son,

AMEN

Image cover THE SHACK

Image cover THE SHACK

A couple of days ago, a friend posted on his multiply site that he received a copy of that Christian novel The Shack.

The rest of the article has been moved to this link.  Please click on the link to read the full article.

http://www.compassionateconsiderations.com/?p=194

Thank you.

Year 1992.  We were headed for Winter Break.  The students had already made plans where they will spend winter break.  I was going with Ron to his home in Buffalo, New York.  Plans had been made and we were just counting the days.  Just a few more exams to hurdle and we will be free at last.  Arrangements have been made to ride with some of our classmates, driving assignments were completed and even parental arrangements for pick-ups in Harrisburg.

All things were set. Except for this friend who said something that up to this day, still haunts me.

It was about 5PM and we were eating dinner and I asked about his plans for Winter break.  He stopped eating and said “I don’t know.”

“What? You are not going anywhere?” – my mind was already racing with ideas how to take him or with whom he could share a ride with up the greater north…

Before I could suggest anything he softly said “My dad had remarried…” and he left it there.

“And?” – I was expecting the rest of the sentence to come.

“He didn’t tell us where he lives now…”

Before I could process all these things he was telling me, he followed it with these words that forever left a sad mark in my heart…

“He did not tell us where he lives…. so now, I don’t even know where home is….”

That statement stayed with me.  I can still see him right now as we were seated at the corner of that dining hall in the Fieldhouse in Big Sandy, Texas back in 1992.

I could not erase in my memory what he said nor how it made me feel.  I was thousands of miles away from the Philippines, but I clearly knew where home was.

I have seen this statement played out many times as I have worked with the young people through the years.  They do not say this statement but I see this being acted out countless of times.  Many feel so lost and many are just simply trying to find their way.  I never realized how his statement made an impact in my life.  It made me want to help others find their way.  To help others find where their real home is.

This friend did not graduate from the college where we studied together.  The last time I heard from him was 8 years ago when we had a YM conference and he introduced me to his pretty little daughter.

I still think of this friend from time to time and wonder how his life turned out.  I would like to hear from him and share how my life is turning out to be. He was a good friend.  He was quiet and he did not feel rotten every time I beat him in chess.  We sat next to each other in most of our freshman classes because the alphabetical arrangement made it that way.

Hey JDK, I hope to see you again.  I still carry in my heart what you painfully shared in 1992.  When we meet again, I will tell you where our real home is.  Our Father is waiting for us.

God bless you my friend.