Saying "I'm Sorry" Too Much
“Stop Apologizing” For years that is something I've felt God speaking to my heart and gently teaching me to do. You see, for some reason I have struggled a lot with having to pay penance. I'm not talking about asking for forgiveness and doing what I can to make the situation right. No what I did was very self destructive because I kept trying to apologize and make things right. I didn’t realize this of course until God started revealing it. And it became glaringly obvious to me after a big screw up at work years ago. I was working at a church with some amazing people and we were putting together a small production and I dropped the ball big time. Years later I don’t remember what I exactly did, but I remember the look on their faces when I told them what I forgot to do. In that moment I kept apologizing and kept trying to make it right. But thank God He had already been speaking to my heart on the subject so as I was heaping condemnation and owning the shame scratching at my heart, I heard the voice of The One Who Loves Me Most nudging and showing me what I was doing. I realized I was trying to pay penance for the wrong I had done. I wasn't just trying to make the situation right, I was trying to prove that I was worthy of forgiveness. I was trying to earn it instead of owning.
When God showed me what was going on inside of me, the truth of how I didn't understand forgiveness sank in a little deeper and over the years I have gotten more of a grasp when it comes to what forgiveness is. Yes, when I mess up or hurt someone I need to do what I can to make it right, but that doesn’t mean I keep saying “I’m sorry. “ I’ve said those two little words thousands of times more than I should in my lifetime because for me it was more than just apologizing, it was about trying to prove I was worth keeping around. And I’ve read books to help me better understand myself and God has used them to teach my heart His grace. I had gotten to the point where I know without a doubt that He forgives me and actually have come a long way when it comes to people too. Once after I lost something of a friend’s and it obviously frustrated him, in the moment he stopped, looked at me and said, “I’m not mad at you. I’m just mad at the situation. “ To be honest until he voiced those words separating someone’s anger at a situation from anger at me, it was something I never even considered. I just assumed that I had caused the person pain and they were mad at me and I had to make it up to them. Through that situation God has helped me learn to differentiate the between someone being upset and being upset at me. You see, I’m a pleaser by nature when it comes to relationships with people I care about and who’s opinions I cherish. I've had to learn, and am still learning, that their happiness isn't on me. It's not my job to keep people happy. It's sounds so silly to type out, but unless you've lived under that weight, you don't know how freeing that statement is. And in the midst of teaching me to accept my humanity and other’s forgiveness God has been speaking to my heart about trusting Him to ordain my schedule. I believe the Bible teaches us that God has a plan for us everyday and if we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, our days can go exactly as He has planned. In fact, it is in this trusting I have found that God brings about the most amazing surprises. If you’ve never started your day by asking God to let His perfect will be done and to ordain your steps, try it. It’s so amazing how He takes care of the details and weaves our lives together when we trust Him. Right now God has me working on two amazing projects, one being my book that will be out in the Spring and another is a collaboration with some new friends you’ll be hearing about soon. Well this morning we’re working on the new project and I started to think of the things I had meant to get done for it last week. I remembered what I needed to do but with my schedule and my sometimes forgetfulness I had not gotten done. As I was starting the all too familiar berating of myself I sighed and breathed out “I’m sorry.” In doing so I wasn’t apologizing to God but thinking of how mad the other person must be and how I had them him down. But in that moment I felt God wash over me with His grace. I felt challenged in my belief that He really does ordain my steps and answers my prayers to guide my day. In my moment of starting to own self condemnation I didn’t trust Him. I was focusing on my shortcomings instead of God’s goodness. But man God is good!! In the same breath that years ago would have sent me into a shame spiral, instead reminded me to thank God for His goodness. I am a hot mess in many ways and I am organizationally challenged. Being a jack of all trades I have a hard time focusing on one thing because there’s so much I love to do. And lacking administrative skills I often found myself lamenting over what I had failed to do. But not this morning. No, this morning instead of thinking how much I need to apologize and feeling awful for my shortcomings, I am in awe of God’s goodness and timing. You see the thing I had messed up became a nonissue because of the way the schedule worked out. Had I accomplished what I had planned, it wouldn’t have mattered because we’re not working on it till today. So today, if in your shortcomings you’re tempted to pay penance to God or anyone else in an attempt to earn your worthiness, I’m praying that instead you are met head on with the forgiving grace of God. That after you’ve done what you can to fix the situation, you give it to God in total surrender and watch how He comes through for you. I’m praying that you see His faithfulness and love in an even deeper way than you’ve experienced before.