I’ve been thinking a lot about apologies lately. When we make them, how we make them, and how they function in relationships. There seems to be a cultural understanding that forgiveness is necessary for injuries to begin healing. There also seems to be a basic understanding that if an apology isn’t sincere it is worth little. I think about the kid, who when forced by a teacher to apologize for a particular offense gives a half baked, “fine, I’m sorry.” To which the offended simply rolls their eyes, as if to say, “fine, I know you don’t mean it but just so that we don’t have to stay here all day…”
Kids understand offenses intuitively. They understand the need for reconciliation when the bonds of a friendship are tested and broken. Part of the revelation of imperfection (or evil) in the world is the moment when a child’s intuitive understanding of love is broken by a family member or friend. They then have to figure out if the intent of the offender was malicious or not. Discernment begins. If malicious, there is evil there. If not, a sense of a relationship worth saving.
A sincere apology from the offender, originating from a repentant heart helps here. It prevents further confusion. It has the potential to lay the ground work for reconciliation. Isn’t that what we desire?