We are now in the church season of Lent, a forty day period before Easter set aside as a time of soul-searching and repentance. The forty days reflect Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for his own time of spiritual reflection. In the early church, Lent was a special time when new converts were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism on Easter.
Our pastor taught us about the four spiritual acts of Lent in one of his sermons:
- Giving to the poor
It’s that last one that has me thinking today. Repentance is often defined as “to feel sorrow for sin” and rightly refers to our sin against God. But, we also sin against each other in our marriage and family relationships. We offend and hurt the ones we love. And we are offended and hurt by the ones we love.
In every marriage and family there comes a time when we must repent. We must feel sorrow for our actions or words. That is often followed by an apology. How you apologize and what you say in the apology is important.
When an apology is needed, Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas in The Five Languages of Apology encourage us to include the following:
- Express regret – “I am sorry.” It helps to be specific about the offense. Avoid saying “but…” That tends to void the apology.
- Accept responsibility – “I was wrong.” (Enough said!)
- Make restitution – “What can I do to make it right?” This compensation may be monetary, material, or emotional or verbal support.
- Genuinely repent – “I’ll try not to do that again.” True repentance means change. In a marriage or family relationship, an intention to not repeat the offensive behavior needs to be verbalized in order to build trust.
- Request forgiveness – “Will you please forgive me?” This sends a strong signal that you know you’ve done something that requires forgiving, not just excusing. It also lets the other person know that you want to see the relationship restored.
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” – Psalm 51:1-2
Do you need to apologize today?
(Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)