While growing up, my dad always told us kids “don’t be sorry, be different” if we continually did the same things we had previously apologized for. My mom says that she started that phrase but those words have stuck with me. Our society is full of empty apologies. We apologize for wrongs we have done against others and then do them again. An apology has become a band-aid.
I believe that change should follow an apology. I understand that everyone was raised differently but I think it’s only reasonable. Why else would anyone apologize? Out of guilt? Out of shame? Because they got caught? It seems to me that those reasons are often what precipitates an apology rather than true remorse about the pain that was inflicted.
No change after an apology can also breed resentment. I am a person who forgives fairly easily when someone shows remorse and apologizes to me. I am quick to give the benefit of the doubt and open myself back up, fully expecting that things will be different. Why else would they have apologized if they didn’t plan to try to be different? However, if the same things occur and I see no change, resentment builds, and it becomes very difficult to forgive that person.
We all guard ourselves from pain in some way or another. I talked about this in my post entitled Relationships and Fear. I am working on forgiving the people who have wronged me; those who have apologized but haven’t changed and those who haven’t apologized. I wrote a post on Forgiveness and I have to re-read my own post to get a handle on what it means to forgive and why it’s important. It’s important for me to remember that I can’t control whether or not the people who have wronged me change, I can control my choice to forgive them and to let it go. That doesn’t mean that I have to accept them into my life again and I don’t have to condone or forget about what they did. For me, actions do speak louder than words, but I won’t allow non-action from them to affect the way I feel about the people who have wronged me. The resentment I feel is my choice and I’m choosing to let it go. I’m choosing to forgive. When I see some action is when I will let these people back in, but until then, I’m no longer going to allow them to rent all that space in my brain.
I, however, will continue to make an active effort to change after I deliver an apology because, to me, the change is what is important not the apology.
“Sincere forgiveness isn’t colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don’t worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time.” – Sara Paddison
What do you think? Are there people out there that you are resistant to forgive because you fear that they won’t change? Read my post on Forgiveness, give it a shot. Forgiveness will benefit you most of all.