Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Is "sorry" enough?

"You are a forgiving God"
Nehemiah 9:17

My Awesome Girl did something wrong yesterday.  Not a big deal, but something for which she was compelled to say, "I'm sorry."  Naturally I accepted her apology, but she still felt bad, so a few minutes later she apologized again.  Again, I thanked her for the apology, and told her I love her.  But I guess she was still feeling bad, because a little while later she said, "Will you forgive me?"  To that I responded, "I already have."  But it got me to thinking about forgiveness.

I have to say "sorry" a lot; probably most of us do.  Sometimes it's the equivalent of "Excuse me," to a stranger or an acquaintance, that I might have bumped into.  Even to a friend or family member, most things I need to apologize for are no big deal, and an accident.  Like forgetting to bring something I said I'd bring them.  But if I do something accidentally, and I know it was an accident, and they know it was an accident, then my apology is going to be pretty breezy.

But there are times, especially with my family, that I've done something for which I need to give a sincere and remorseful apology.  And of course, if my apology is going to be remorseful, I have to really be feeling remorse.  When my kids were little, they would sometimes have to apologize to each other because I was making them. Then their "sorry" would not sound sorry at all.

So I have plenty of practice apologizing to them, and of course, to God.  Although I probably don't apologize to Him as often as I should...

But I never ask for forgiveness.   I guess I think that by saying "I'm sorry," that a request for forgiveness is implied.   But maybe I shouldn't think that way.  The dictionary defines "forgive" as "to stop feeling angry or resentful towards."  Which made me wonder if I was coming across that way to my Awesome Girl.  I wasn't feeling angry, but I was very tired, so I was quiet, and maybe she interpreted that as my still being angry.

Why do I never ask God for forgiveness?  It's pretty hard to tell if He's angry or resentful with me, I guess.  He's really not the type to sulk.  But the concept of forgiveness is all over Scripture, so clearly it's important to Him.  He wants us to forgive one another, and He wants us to desire forgiveness from Him.  Offering an apology allows me to be in control.  It's somehow all about me.  Sort of:  I'm sorry.  There.  I said it.  If you don't accept it, that's your problem.   But asking for forgiveness puts the other person in power.  We might have to wait for forgiveness.  We might have to come to a full understanding of how we've hurt that person before they give us the gift.

There are a lot of things I want from God.  I want His peace, His wisdom, and the joy that only a relationship with Him can bring.  But I need to remember that His forgiveness is also a gift that only He can give.  It was the reason Jesus died.   That should matter to me.

~ "You are a forgiving God, 
gracious and compassionate, 
slow to anger and abounding in love" ~
Nehemiah 9:17

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