Have you ever experience tension or conflict in a relationship with someone you really care about?
Of course you have. Relationships are breeding grounds for conflict because of course when we are close to people we step on toes. We have thoughts and plans that sometimes don’t line up with the people we love. And so there can no doubt be hurt feelings and unmet expectations.
What do we do in these moments?
I suggest for starters that we don’t immediately say I’m sorry. As a matter of fact, I think we use the phrase I’m Sorry a bit too quickly. I think I’m sorry has become a quick attempt to restore a relationship. But like putting a band-aid on a burn, it may actually hurt our relationships more than help.
Let me explain what I mean.
When we say I’m sorry we are taking responsibility for the problem. In short we are saying: this problem exists because of something I have done.
And certainly, there are times when we need to say I’m sorry because there are times when we have failed.
But there are also times when we haven’t failed. Some times conflict exists because people don’t like change. Some times conflict exists because a friend doesn’t respect our limitations. There are certainly times when people place unfair expectations on us. There are times when people are immature and manipulative.
Obviously, this isn’t always the case. But when we have searched our hearts and found nothing wrong, we shouldn’t say I’m sorry in an attempt to restore a relationship.
Why? Because when we say sorry in these moments, we are taking responsibility for something that we are not responsible for. And when we do this, we actually take away a person’s dignity by removing from them the responsibility that is tied to their actions, attitudes and words.
Think about it like this. Imagine God coming to the human race and saying, “Sorry this world is such a mess. It’s my bad. I should have done things differently. I’m sorry for everything. Can we move on now?”
That would be ridiculous. Because the problems that pervade our planet are not God’s problems. He didn’t create them. He gave us a good world and we broke it when we walked away from him. And it doesn’t help us to grow, if he takes responsibility for something we did.
This is one reason I love the gospel. God’s grace doesn’t take away our responsibility. It says you are totally responsible for the problem, and you are totally loved and forgiven.
Sometimes we forget this and in the name of grace we try to take responsibility for someone else’s problem.
So before you say I’m sorry. Ask yourself what are you sorry for? Have you really done something wrong? Or is there conflict because of some other reason.
If you have done something wrong, then by all means, own it.
But if you haven’t done anything wrong. Please, don’t say I’m sorry. It may make things better in the short term. But in the long term, you’re going to stunt growth in the lives of the people you love because you will constantly take away people’s responsibility and an opportunity for them to grow.
Additionally, you’ll place burdens on your back that you weren’t meant to carry.
Remember: Not every problem exists because of something you did. So be thoughtful when saying I’m sorry.