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5th of April

Love Means Having to Say You’re Sorry

Storm warning!  High winds coming!

I can feel the front moving in and I might just be ready to blow.  I heard it on the radio yesterday—a study from some of my clinical psychology colleagues . . . .

Apologizing lowers self-esteem.  Therefore, we shouldn’t apologize.  Ever.

Honestly?!  Some in the psychology world have taken insanity to a whole new height and seem to want to lead our culture right up there with them!

When I was in high school, my favorite chick flick was Love Story.  The whole rich-boy-meets-poor girl story where poor girl dies and moments before hears, “I’m sorry” from rich-boy and in response says, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”  Sigh!

I thought THAT was pretty weird.  Like, who is SO perfect that they never screw up in relationship?  Even as a teenager, I thought it was probably pretty normal and healthy to realize we hurt others, intentionally or not, and that saying “I’m sorry” is a GOOD thing.

Now this, some forty years later—don’t even SAY you’re sorry—even when you KNOW you’re wrong—even when you KNOW you’ve hurt someone?  And heaven forbid we should teach such harmful stuff to our kids!  I mean, we might SHAME them and break their fragile little egos and SCAR them for LIFE!  (The sarcasm faucet has turned from drip to full flow)

Here’s the real problem, as I see it, based on Scripture and based on my experience in life as a broken person who has spent a LOT of time helping other broken persons recover emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being. 

Denying truth does not cure, it kills.

And propagating lies about sin and forgiveness is nothing short of murdering souls—our own and others’.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?  “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”  Jeremiah 17:9

When we think we’ve got truth all figured out, when we think WE can determine right and wrong using no standard but our own, we are driving wild and fast toward a head-on collision with TRUTH unchangeable that does not care one iota about OUR perceptions, OUR feelings.  Concrete walls are made of concrete, no matter how we try to convince ourselves they are made of fluffy down feathers all pillowed up to make us feel cozy and comfortable.

I have seen too many reality crashes that have thrown critically injured victims far off the highway of health to know that messing with absolute truth regarding sin and forgiveness is a highly risky ride.

God teaches us clearly about the benefit of admitting our errors and asking forgiveness.  (Read Psalm 32 below.)

Of course, the psychologists who propose that admitting when we’ve wronged someone and saying we’re sorry are RIGHT that it lowers self-esteem.  Admitting the way we’ve damaged relationship isn’t easy!  It hurts!  And what does it hurt?  Our PRIDE!  Our EGOS!  My pride SCREAMS at me when I determine to say I’m sorry for something I’ve done wrong and ask for another’s forgiveness.  So why do I do it?  And why have we taught our children to do it through example and through coaching?

Because it’s the RIGHT thing to do!  Because it’s GOOD for us and it’s GOOD for relationship in the end!  Just because something doesn’t FEEL good for a bit doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.  Sometimes we should—for GOOD to come of it—for GOOD to follow the pain.

Have we really become so entirely pain-avoidant as a culture?  Have we really become so near-sighted that we can’t see the concrete reality walls ahead?  Have we really swallowed the original lie that we can be like God and define right and wrong for ourselves?  Yep.  I have.  Every single day, I choose to admit to God that I have swallowed the lie and that I need Him and His word to learn how to see straight again.  To live right again.  To LIVE.

I suppose if the goal is to keep on believing we’re God—to keep on re-writing reality OUR way—then I suppose it makes sense to never, ever say we’re sorry—to never, ever ask for forgiveness.

But that’s an expensive way to live in the end.

Those same psychologists who are telling us never, ever to say we’re sorry?  Those are the same psychologists who are currently picking $160 every 50 minutes out of pockets to collect pieces of torn apart relationships and torn apart souls.  And those same psychologists have no idea how to put Humpty Dumpty back together again because they’ve got the starting and ending points all wrong. 

WE are NOT the Alpha and the Omega. 

Like it or not, it’s the truth.  Don’t like truth?  Keep on the collision course and maybe concrete walls won’t feel so good after crashing into a few.  Then, those of us who know how to say we’re sorry will comfort you and lead you back to the One who CAN put all our torn apart pieces back together again.  After all, we’re all on the same reality road—like it or not—BELIEVE it of not.


Psalm 32

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.  When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.  Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”—and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”  Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him.  You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. 

And the LORD says,

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.  Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.  Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.  Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!


P.S.  How about some anecdotal evidence to pass along to the professionals who conducted their study?  Anyone care to comment on the benefit of subduing our pride and saying we’re sorry when we have wronged someone?  No details of the wrong are necessary.

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