Magic Words

The Friary is a wonderful, amazing place full of some of the my favorite people in the whole world. That being said, we are all still human, and we all get on each other’s nerves sometimes, and sometimes people are even *gasp* catty on purpose!

A couple of weeks ago, someone said something to me that was pretty crappy. It happens. It didn’t shake me too much, I’ve heard worse. But what DID knock me backwards was what they did later. They came up to me and said, “Lydia, I am so so sorry for what I said earlier. That was out of line and I shouldn’t have said that. Will you please forgive me?” That meant so much to me, and in a week where I had noticed a few incidents like that, it meant even more.

I think as adults we are often very quick to notice when children should apologize to us and to their peers, and point out to them, “Say you’re sorry! Ask to be forgiven for that!” And when we are hurt, we like to complain to our friends, “That person was out of line! That person needs to apologize to me!” But we are so incredibly slow to own up to our own mistakes, maybe never admitting them. The problem with this is that this is where healing can start to happen, when we say, oops, I did wrong.

Last week, I was very upset by a reading someone did at supper, which made a joke about Americans shooting into crowds and killing innocent bystanders. Aside from the fact that it was completely tasteless (and emphasizes how foreign the idea is to Brits), I was upset because I have friends and family who were in a church seven years ago when a gunman opened fire on the congregation. I am so glad that this is outside the realm of most people’s experience, maybe you can think of a less dramatic example, but the point is that a huge wound is here, one that has affected an entire community, and for healing to happen, it would be massively helpful if the gunman said, “I did wrong. I am so terribly sorry. I can never make this right. Can you ever forgive me?” To my knowledge, he hasn’t, and I, who wasn’t there at the time, am still struggling to process his actions. I’m not saying that healing cannot happen without an apology, but the process is so much easier if we can admit our mistakes. The person who did that reading did apologize to me afterwards, and that has healed that small wound for me.

“I’m sorry.” “Please may I?” “Thank you.” They are not big words, but they do great things.

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