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.


Praise is an act of Faith

January 12, 2009

Yesterday, my wife and I attended Crossway Church. It is one of the congregations we go to when we are not doing circuit visits.

The worship leader was Aron. I knew his style, selection of songs and overall approach. When he started leading the worship, I knew that it was going to be difficult for me. I was in too much pain to be singing fast and upbeat praise songs. I was looking forward to the sobered hymns and réflective music. I closed my eyes and tried to sing as well but no words came out.
I heard Aron encouraging us to remember the good deeds of the Lord.  I remembered the Lord’s kindness and thanked Him again and again for what He has done and continues to do.  I remembered Hebrews 1:3 – how everything is being sustained by His name.

My quiet meditation would be interrupted more by the disruptive mental images in my mind. Pictures, words, frozen moments of our continuing challenge would wrestle my attention away from my praise.

It was difficult – and in a moment, my praise turned to despair.  There I was, in the midst of a very praise-filled congregation, alone and un-reached in my desolation.

I whispered “Lord, I cannot sing…”

He gently whispered back…”focus on WHO I AM and not on what you are going through right now…”

It was a divine answer that I needed to hear again.  Focus on WHO the LORD is.  FOCUS on HIS character and not on the ongoing trials no matter how difficult it would seem.

PRAISE the LORD because of WHO HE IS and not only BECAUSE OF WHAT HE HAS DONE.  Many times when we just focus on the latter, we would eventually find ourselves focusing on what HE HASN’T DONE YET. We will also find ourselves focusing on things that are still waiting for resolution, loved ones that need to be healed, freed from their bondage, dreams that are still yet to be fulfilled.

FOCUS ON WHO CHRIST IS.  I slowly recalled the nature and character of Christ. And out of pain-wracked heart, a small praise came out of my lips that could barely open up to sing.  I was not singing like I used to, but my heart was lifted up in praise.

Praise is always an act of faith.

We know this more intuitively and subjectively when it gets to be more difficult to praise because of the hardships we go through.  But the praise of the Lord is NEVER diminished by the overwhelming odds stacked against us.  We praise GOD for WHO HE IS. WE PRAISE HIM even if the answer may be a NO or a NOT YET.  We praise HIM because of HIS NATURE and HIS CHARACTER.

Praise is always an act of faith.

Yesterday, this subjective reality, was my objective reality.

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.

Thank you.