It’s possible that I apologise too much. People sometimes say that to me. Maybe they even think that I don’t have anything to apologise for. Maybe they think that someone in my position ought to put on a stronger face, not admit to weakness or failure. Maybe they’ve just pre-forgiven me for whatever it was I did (or, more usually, failed to do) and don’t feel a need for me to do my bit….
But you know what? I’m not going to stop.
I’m also not going to stop, because while I am profoundly grateful for the people who forgive me for the same things again and again and again, the moment I take their forgiveness for granted, I’ve started to take them for granted too. My missed deadlines mean someone else has to work later, or longer, or has to do their bit at the last minute when they (unlike me) are not natural last-minute people. My ‘sorry’ is an acknowledgement that my failure hurts other people, even if only in minor ways. It’s an act of empathy, and I don’t ever want to lose that.
I’m not going to stop, because as long as I’m in the habit of being apologetic, then hopefully when it comes to the big things – you know, the things that are actually really really hard to own up to, the things I want to hide, and hope nobody ever finds out about – I’ll be all nicely warmed up and the repentance will flow easily from my heart right out of my mouth.
I’m not going to stop, because although sometimes I repent and repent and the bridge remains broken, other times, by the grace of God, the person I realise ages ago that I’d hurt and finally pluck up courage to visit not only accepts my apology, but also sits down with me over a pot of tea and a plate of biscuits, and shows me that I can be promoted to the rank of ‘friend’. Real forgiveness is too wonderful an experience to risk missing out on.
And I’m not going to stop, because saying sorry and meaning it is a way of just starting the process of cleaning out the dark and dirty corners of the soul. If my soul is a dark and cluttered cupboard, the ‘Sorry’ is that moment when I have the courage to open the cupboard door, with God standing next to me, so that he can turn to me and say, ‘Can I give you a hand clearing this lot up?’