Posted by Mary Beth Dahl on October 24, 2013
Saying “I’m sorry” is reflexive for me. I’ve apologized for everything from sneezing repeatedly to sitting down next to someone. The other day I was headed into an Arby’s, and this guy waited for me to get to the door so he could hold it open for me. How did I respond to his kindness—with a downcast “I’m sorry.”
I felt bad that he got separated from his family because of me.
That makes sense, doesn’t it?
I’m starting to think it’s not really appropriate for me to be apologizing all of the time. The recent change in my job situation coupled with some books I’ve been reading have gotten me thinking. What’s at the root of my countless “I’m sorries”?
I’m pretty sure they all stem from me feeling bad about imposing on someone else. Now maybe psychologists can trace that back to my toddler years, but the practical truth is, I need to get a grip on my little space in this world.
Fact #1 – Matter takes up space. I matter. I take up space. This may at times infringe on someone else’s space, but that doesn’t require an apology. It’s simply a fact of life. I need never apologize for my existence.
Fact #2 – When someone else is struggling or sad, the focus should be on them, not me. No apologies are needed here either, just understanding, empathy, and encouragement. No shallow “I’m sorry you feel bad”, but rather a “I can tell that you’re hurting” or “That is a hard situation.”
Fact #3 – The word “sorry” (in addition to being an expression of regret) also means poor, useless, and pitiful. I’m not those things (and neither are you). I’m rich in the blessings of the Almighty. I am His instrument, and I’m filled with strength and dignity. I’m not sorry for that.
Part of becoming an adult means learning to take responsibility for your actions and feelings. And by “take responsibility” I don’t mean “apologize for”. We can take this responsibility because we are whole and complete and have an anchor for our souls. Not that we should never apologize, just that when we do, it should really mean something.
It shouldn’t be to make us feel better, but rather to shine a light on the darkness inside.
It shouldn’t be because we need something, but rather because something needs to be given.
It shouldn’t be to appease someone else’s poor behavior, but rather because it’s the right thing to do.
It’s really closer to my sentiment. I may feel bad that someone had to wait on me, but what’s really at my heart is that I’m thankful they took the time. I may be embarrassed I sneezed 10 times in a row, but I’m also very thankful for the ten bless yous and the box of tissues.
Look, I’ve just gone from being pitiful and poor to being blessed and thankful. What a wonderful thing!
Won’t you join me?!