The Healing Power of an Apology

I messed up. Last week, I hurt a friend’s feelings… a beautiful friend; who supports me, encourages me, and makes me laugh out loud! I threw out some advice which hadn’t been sought, with the hopeful intention of making life a little better for her. She hadn’t asked for it though. She has before, but this time, she hadn’t. A simple, “I love you; I’m praying for your hurting heart,” would have been a much better solution, and we could have waited to chat by phone when we had more time.  It didn’t matter if my intention was good; what mattered was the effect it had on my friend. Instead of making her feel hopeful, it caused her to feel hurt and overwhelmed. And I was truly… sorry.

How would I have known though, had my friend not been honest, and told me so? But first, The Holy Spirit told me. I hadn’t heard back from my friend, and I began to feel a gentle nudge from within, that I should apologize, in case I had upset or offended my friend with my advice, which had been offered in the form of a text; a form of communication which is so easily misrepresented and misinterpreted. I began to hear the verse, “When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but the one who controls his lips is wise” (Prov. 10:19 Holman Christian Standard Bible). I gulped, convicted. I’d probably even been aware of the verse, as I’d been texting. I’m still learning to pay attention to The Holy Spirit.

The difference in being convicted by The Holy Spirit, or plagued by guilt from the devil; is that God is mercifully gentle, but firm. You ache in your spirit for the pain you’ve caused another, but at the same time you know Jesus has already died and taken the punishment for your sins. There is a desire to fix it, and make it right; but it’s not just to selfishly relieve a nagging sense of false guilt (which can go on and on for days after already seeking forgiveness). You want to apologize, because you love your brother or sister in Christ, and you seek to be obedient to God’s commandments.  In righting a wrong, your desire should be for both you, and your friend, to be able to draw closer to God in the process. After all, our purpose in pursuing Jesus, is to become more like him, each and every day. 

When I initially reached out to check on my friend, I found out I had indeed been being prompted by The Holy Spirit to apologize. My friend was hurt and had been graciously processing what I had said, before deciding to respond, which could have made the matter worse. She could have ended up hurting me, when my intention had never been to hurt her. Wise people wait… and pray. Meanwhile, we had still been in communication about other things online. She was still being her supportive, sweet, encouraging self. What if she hadn’t been honest with me? What if she’d just decided to write me off? I wouldn’t have had a chance to humble myself, give her my most sincere apology, and ask her to please forgive me. This is what I did. 

And I can now thank God for the silver lining. For in all this, my friend offered me even more grace, by saying, “There is nothing to apologize for.” Mercy! That’s what it looks like! Of course, I needed to apologize. However, in grace and love, she completely took me off the hook… the hook of guilt, the hook of blame… and the hook of self-condemnation. With one simple act of forgiveness, she displayed the forgiveness which Jesus displays to us each and every day, for all our sins and wrongdoings. Her one act of forgiving grace, offered healing to my heart,  by filling places where forgiveness was not given to me by others. Her sweet, simple act of forgiveness further validated God’s truth; we are forgiven because He loves us, just as we are.

And it is my hope, that my apology brings healing to her heart, by showing her that my compassionate heart cares about her compassionate heart, and that her friendship is valuable enough for me to kick out pride, humble myself, and admit when I’m wrong. I believe our friendship can only grow closer, for it is based in a shared love for Jesus Christ. We have prayed for each other, shared our stories of brokenness and healing, and have enjoyed the blessing of watching our children form a godly bond of friendship too. We have watched them with each other; being kind, laughing, and running free; making childhood memories together! 

Do you need to apologize to a friend today? Don’t swallow your pride; it might come up again later! Instead, renounce the spirit of pride in the name of Jesus. Humble yourself, and apologize to your friend. Yes, you are already forgiven in Christ, but the act of an apology brings healing to hurting hearts, and it draws us all closer to Jesus! “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (Jas. 4:10 English Standard Version).

“Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy” (Prov. 27:6 New Living Translation).

13 thoughts on “The Healing Power of an Apology”

    1. Thank you, Rita! You are so right! Saying a heartfelt sorry lets someone know you really care! I was taught saying sorry was a sign of weakness… but it’s not! It’s just the opposite! It fills your heart with goodness!
      Thank you for stopping by to encourage me! πŸ’™

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  1. Angela, there are some wonderful words of wisdom is this post. I’ve been guilty of offering “unsolicited advice”. I like the way you point a few other things. One, texts can be misinterpreted. Some things are best spoken in person. Two, the Holy Spirit convicts, never condemns. Three, wise people wait and PRAY. And last but certainly not least, apologize when necessary.
    Beckie

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    1. Thank you, Beckie! I hope that my readers will see these truths, and be motivated to apologize, instead of being afraid to admit their shortcomings. We all mess up, and nobody wants to try and keep up with that “perfect” friend who can do no wrong! I also think an apology makes people feel safe; safe to be themselves, and safe to mess up too… yet still find acceptance and love! Thank you for pointing out the truths in this post; it makes my heart happy that you could pick them out. I was definitively hoping readers would be able to see the difference in guilt (which feels ugly and afraid) versus conviction (which feels bold and courageous). I’ll be writing more about guilt in the future. It’s so nice to have gifted writers, like yourself, to encourage me along the way! God bless you, Beckie, in Jesus’ name! Thank you for taking time to bless me! πŸ’™

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  2. I think another truth, and I feel grieved when I witness the opposite of this, is that when someone sincerely apologizes, the other party should accept the apology as graciously as it was offered. It always saddens me to apologize or see someone else apologize, and the person being apologized to holds onto the hurt or the “wrong” instead of accepting the sincere apology and moving on.

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    1. This is a very good point. Being unforgiving, leaves the other person in a state of anxiety, rejection, and sadness. It leaves the unforgiver closer to bitterness, which is extremely dangerous. It’s true that some apologies are not sincere, and in those cases, there must be boundaries. But even in those cases, forgiveness can be granted through Jesus Christ, so everyone can go on living in freedom. As a child, I never knew when I’d be finally be “forgiven” for whatever little slight I had done. It left me confused, angry, and alone. It also left me feeling as if God was constantly angry with me. Why would we want to do this to anyone? Let’s forgive graciously; I agree! πŸ’™

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  3. Great post, Angela. A good reminder that we need to be aware of the impact of our words on others, seek forgiveness when we have wronged, offer forgiveness when we have been wronged, humble our hearts and cast aside our pride to walk in the light of Christ as we serve others.

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    1. Thank you, Mimi! Just think how many relationships could be saved if pride were cast away! Forgiveness is a choice, and it feels so much better to drop our baggage of unforgiveness, and let Jesus carry it for us! πŸ’™

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