Occasionally life hits me between the eyes with topics to write about. This past Friday, I enjoyed an article in The Wall Street Journal by Paula Marantz Cohen entitled “The Lost Art of the Apology Letter”. (see below)
Letter writing is a dying art in and of itself. Writing an apology is something almost unknown these days. You are much more likely to receive a text or tweet as an apology, if you receive one at all. Be honest.When was the last time you received a heartfelt expression of regret?
We live in a rude world that is becoming more anonymous by the day. I regularly read negative comments about the Hardee’s I own or the city that I serve as Mayor on social media. Most of those comments are by people I know, in some cases for decades. They know where I live. They have my cell phone number.
If I have indeed offended them in some way, I would welcome the chance to explain and if necessary, apologize. We often do not even get the chance to say I am sorry.
The Sunday after reading the article, I enjoyed the last of a series of sermons by Dr. Raymond Guterman on the Apostle’s Creed. Each week I say what I believe as a Christian which includes the phrase “I believe in the forgiveness of sins”.
We live in a time when forgiveness can be seen by some as a sign of weakness. Our leaders often double down when caught in an error or misstatement. It is as if admitting they were wrong diminishes their leadership abilities and even their worth as a human being.
I beg to differ on so many levels. I don’t pretend to speak for the city, my company, a political party or anyone I know. In this case, I speak only for myself and my own experience over six plus decades.
Like you, I am human. I have hurt people that I know and love. It pains me to even remember some of those occasions. Telling them I was sorry freed me from the resentment of being caught. I acknowledged they were indeed right, underserving of what I had said or done. Their forgiveness was a gift I did not deserve and allowed our relationship to flourish in ways I could never have expected.
I have myself forgiven others that have wronged me. Some did not ask for forgiveness, but I forgave them anyway. Not for their sake, but for my own. The poison that festers with holding a grudge or bitterness can destroy the best of a person without them even knowing it.
As Dr. Guterman said in his remarks, forgiveness does not mean that you condone the behavior or action in which you were wronged. In my case, it simply means that I am putting into action the words I say each week as part of the Apostle’s Creed; I believe in the forgiveness of sins.
Those sins may have been committed against me. I may have committed them against others. However, the greatest forgiveness comes from above. A Christian’s faith is based on the belief that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. My sins.
We often pray for the Lord to forgive us of our sins. Almost all faiths offer similar petitions of pardon. I believe God listens to our sincere prayers for forgiveness. After all, He is a God of mercy.
Perhaps we should make the same request of our friends, family or neighbors. Write a letter of apology to someone you have wronged. It will be good for your soul.
Dan Ponder can be reached at [email protected]