Apologies don’t heal us. We’d like to think that they do, but they don’t.
In fact, waiting for an apology can be dangerous. You see, demanding contrition stalls the healing process. It squeezes the wound, hoping the perpetrator sees we’re still bleeding.
Would you like a bandage? Some antiseptic? “No thanks, I’m waiting for my apology.”
Of course, there are some exceptions — some apologies happen right away. But as you well know, most apologies aren’t immediate. They buffer. Some take days, others take years, and then there are those that never come at all. Never.
It’s the never-gonna-happen apologies that act as mirages, leading us further and further into our desert of bitterness.
To say, “I’m waiting for your apology” is to say, “You owe me something.” We can’t stand the thought of the antagonist walking away unscathed. It goes against every fairy tale we’ve ever read. Bad guys are supposed to pay. The villain has to lose the standoff, the witch has to melt and the traitor has to hang.
We can’t accept a story that allows our villain, witch or traitor to walk away smiling. There must be another chapter, right? I’m sorry will surely come before The End.
But grace takes a different position. Grace believes the climax of the story is forgiveness rather than punishment. Grace doesn’t need him to say ‘I’m sorry’ in order for you to say ‘I’m healing.’ Grace starts working long before an apology because grace never assumes an apology is coming.
For people of faith, grace is best demonstrated in the Bible. The scandal of the New Testament is that God chooses not to press charges. The Father devised a rescue plan before His people even knew they were captive. The Son forgave even while being crucified. Grace upon grace.
It would be nice; they owe it to you. But it might not happen. He may never admit fault, she may never see your point of view and you may never hear I’m sorry that I hurt you.
Can you handle that? Can you choose to forgive, knowing that you may not be asked to? Can you give the same generous grace you so readily received?
Some of us can’t. Let me rephrase that: Some of us won’t.
We’ll hold out for our apology. We’ll buttress our position. We’ll review our notes. We’ll plead our case.
It’s an understandable but sad existence. You’ll be right, but you’ll be miserably right. You’ll wander in your desert, stumbling towards a cruel mirage. Your truest feeling will be thirst and your favorite word will be tomorrow.
I’m not going to fault you for living like that, but I am going to suggest that you don’t have to. Grace can refresh you; forgiveness can free you.
Isn’t that what you’ve been waiting for all along?