There’s a song I hear on the radio, “Apologize.” The chorus says “it’s too late to apologize.” I wonder if that’s really true. It can be too late for apology to repair, but I think as long as there is life, there is opportunity to apologize. Maybe, in the end, an apology is just words, and if there is no power in the words to bring healing or resolution, then the apology is meaningless?
But I don’t think so. Some hurts may not be healed with words, but that doesn’t mean that the words are not important. Validation is important, and isn’t that what saying “I’m sorry” is really about? One person saying to another, “You were right, and I was wrong. I didn’t see before, but now I do.” Or in the words of the immortal song, “I once was blind, but now I see.”
Words are only words. But they are powerful, none the less. An apology is a beginning, or maybe an ending. But most of all, it is acknowledgement. Saying the words can be cleansing and healing for the person saying them. And after all, if you have an apology to make, you can do your part. But you can’t choose how it will be received or if the words will have ability to change the situation. That is for the person receiving the apology to determine.
Some lessons are long to learn. I used to think that if I stepped up, admitted I was wrong, said the right words, was sincere, then of course all would be forgiven. But it doesn’t work like that, at least not all the time. Now my realization is this: just as giving an apology doesn’t guarantee that the receiver will accept it, rejection of apology doesn’t change the fact that it was given. And that it is meaningful, even if only to the person saying “I’m sorry.”