I sometimes find it fun to think about what kind of tattoo I would get if I ever decided to get one. If I had the real estate on my bicep, I think an eagle and a lion entangled in a lightsaber duel might make for a pretty sweet conversation piece. In all honesty though, there aren’t a lot of things I could envision myself feeling that ardently about forever. That’s a huge commitment. So I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon. If I did ever lose a bet or something and had to get one, maybe the idea bet would be getting ‘apologize’ some place I would constantly see it.
There are many reasons that being apologetic is the right thing. Earnestly seeking reconciliation makes things easier in the long run and eases things for healthier relationships. It’s this kind of attitude that helps us live in better harmony with ourselves, others, and God. I believe this is most clearly shown what God thinks of it biblically in the New Testament, Matthew 5:23-24. Reading that verse recently, God really hit me with the weight of that. Holding onto a disagreement or resentment, or just generally not getting something settled with someone else is pretty serious. He doesn’t even want us to approach Him before we address it! Man, if we’re called not to worry but to call out to our Father about everything, that means settling things is a big deal.
When Jesus illustrated his idea of forgiveness to Peter with the parable of the unforgiving unforgiving servant, he made it pretty clear that we should be up front about admitting our faults, that we should be forgiving of others as He has forgiven us. It’s selfish to think of ourselves worthy of that forgiveness but that others aren’t. And when it’s us who needs forgiveness? Well, we should approach humbly. God forgives willingly. When it comes to others we’ve wronged, that may not always be the case.
Sometimes coming to someone else to apologize isn’t because we think they’re completely right in the situation, it might just show that we value the relationship highly. In fact, most of the time culpability can be shared to some degree. In keeping a bitter heart towards someone over something, we fall into a line of thinking that is self damaging. I’ve heard it said many times that holding resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. You staying angry will likely not affect them and certainly won’t help you. Admitting to your fault may not lead to reconciliation. The other person may choose not to forgive you. That’s entirely up to them. But it’s up to them whether or not you care for that relationship by doing that. I need to make sure to swallow my pride and step up to apologize. Being apologetic looks better on me than my pride does.
Lastly, apologizing is good for us. Sometimes we’re not afforded the opportunity to apologize in person, sometimes not at all. But instead of clinging to the reasons why we justified our selfish actions in the first place, harboring a hard heart, we need to be introspective and find what we can change. And apologizing is nearly always the right first step. When things start to go wrong, I’m big on finding the next right step. Releasing our imaginary hold on things that we don’t actually control is always a good step. No, we may not be able to find the acceptance of forgiveness that we’re seeking. But we will always find a clearer conscience by doing it. A lighter load is a pretty sweet reward for doing the right thing anyway. It makes it easier to forgive someone else because we know the kind of humility it takes to approach with a an apologetic mindset. Maybe that is something worth getting a tattoo as a reminder.