Three little words...
It's just three little words...teeny, tiny words actually. So small, but SO very powerful. We can yearn for them, beg for them even, but they are meaningless unless they are given freely. As a mother, there are days when all that I want to hear are these three little words from my kids. It would mean so much, but often they go unspoken.
I am sorry.
That's it. I AM SORRY. What a difference it would make if we could all acknowledge when we have done something wrong or hurt someone. If we could just claim it and take responsibility. The simple act of saying your sorry is like salve to a wound. While it won't necessarily undo what has been done, it is still so powerful, so healing. It is like saying, your feelings are more important than my pride.
Unfortunately, it's not that simple. People (certain ones living in this house for sure!) by nature, don't like to admit when they are wrong. They don't like to think that something that they have said or done has caused pain or anger. I know that I certainly don't like to admit when I am wrong, especially to my kids. But I like to think that by owning up to my mistakes, it might actually give me some credibility. If, as the mom, I not only take responsibility for my mistakes but also seek to right them, maybe just maybe, when I am sure that I am right, they will actually listen to me. Who knows, maybe not, but at least I know that I am trying to be a good example.
I remember being a teenager (well vaguely at least). I know that apologizing was certainly not at the top of my list of fun things to do. And, let's be honest, nobody likes to think that they have hurt someone, especially somebody that they love. But it happens. We say things that we don't mean and do things that we shouldn't. Nobody is perfect. But the important thing is that we learn to acknowledge when this happens and step up and do the right thing. It is never to late to apologize. In fact I still apologize (sometimes daily) to my parents for my behavior for the ages of 12 through 23.
There are many ways to say that you are sorry. You can write a note or a text. Give them a hug or a certain look. You can do something special for the person that you have wronged. These are all nice. But honestly, for me, nothing beats a heartfelt, look you in the eye, spoken apology. I am sorry. It takes so much to say those three little words. So much humility and honesty is required to utter those three little words. But in that moment a corner has been turned. The "power" so to speak has shifted.
There are three other little words that are equally important. They are also meaningless unless they are sincere. And they are just as powerful.
I forgive you.
Again, it is like saying, your feelings are more important than my pride. You are essentially saying, "Yes, you have hurt me but I have let it go. You are more important to me than being right."
As a mom, I struggle to make sure that my kids learn how essential it is to not only own up to their mistakes and apologize, but on the other hand, to be merciful and forgiving. Hugs and apologies are a constant occurrence in this house. (Seriously, with nine kids someone is always wrong!) But just as important and (almost) as frequent, are the returned hugs and the other three words. I forgive you. Sometimes you have to offer forgiveness first. And the apology comes later. It can be very difficult to get a two year old to apologize. Sometimes even more so with a 17 year old. It can be uncomfortable and embarrassing to apologize. But in that moment, we try to teach our kids that it isn't always about them. We are called to put others first, even when it's hard.