It is almost inevitable, the apologies. They come after moving talks or convicting presentations. They fall out of the mouths of those struggling with guilt and shame. The memories of jokes and offense, of discrimination and hate, of turning a blind eye or hiding behind silence are too much to bear. The sorries are wrapped up in family histories, tied in a bow of secrets.
The sorries rarely involve the two people present. She is sorry for the way someone else treated me- that time 15 years ago someone called me a n******. Or he is sorry for a joke told at his company's picnic. The subject and the one treated as an object never occupy the same space in these apologies. Like lead, they hit the ground.
But I cant use another sorry. They are of no use to me.
They are too flimsy to form a foundation of love, trust, or friendship. They are too shallow to offer comfort in the midst of pain, rejection or isolation. They are too weak to provide defense from the next offense. And I sure cant use them to pay my student loans or put a down payment on a home.
The truth is, they act as calamine lotion, alleviating the itching and discomfort of your own wounds.
They dont serve me.
Rather than handing out empty sorries, turn toward confession, lament, repentance.
If you have hurt someone, it is good and right to confess that sin to her, that you both may be healed. If this is not possible, you can still confess your sin to Christ- those ugly thoughts, those awful jokes, your participation, your silence, your enjoyment, your fear. God is faithful to forgive and cleanse.
Lament. Lament feels deeply. Far from a quick fix, lament requires staying power. Mourning over the wrongs committed. Deep sorrow over the pain caused. Lament sits in the pain for awhile, recognizing the depth of the brokenness. Often lament comes to the conclusion that things are so awful, so broken, so messed up that the only hope of rescue we have is God. it displaces our ability to fix and walk away; lament demands that we recognize that only the healing of God can makes us whole.
Repentance is of far greater value than a truckload of sorries. I'm sorry isn't the same as, "I won't do that again." I speak only for myself here, but you need not ever apologize to me again, if instead you will repent, turn from these wicked ways and live in peace with fellow man. Repentance requires far more of us. Repentance requires commitment.
Keep your sorries. I cant do nothin with them.
~My forever and always thankfulness for the work of the brilliant Ntozake Shange for her moving work For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf from which the line "I cant use another sorry" comes and on which this post is structured.~