Anyone else a chronic apologizer? I don’t even want to know how many times I say “sorry” throughout the day. I’ve found myself apologizing for things that I shouldn’t—and when someone calls me on it, I usually follow it up with, “Oh, you’re right…sorry.”
(Insert palm to forehead here.)
There are absolutely times and places to ask for forgiveness. I mean, it’s kind of a central theme of Christianity, so I do it a lot—and rightly so. But there are certain instances when I apologize out of discomfort, insecurity, or awkwardness.
Here are some things I’m trying to do better about not apologizing for:
1 • My Home’s Appearance
The majority of the week our home just doesn’t look like the cover of Magnolia Journal. (If you’re reading this, Joanna Gaines, you have an open invitation to come work your magic on my house anytime. Just give me a call and we’ll set something up.)
If you walk through my house in the middle of the day, there’s a good chance something will squish between your toes, half-folded laundry will be on the couch (possibly being tossed in the air by tiny hands), and work papers will be sprawled across the table. I don’t always have the time (or the will) to make things pristine when people come over, and I’m bad about always giving disclaimers. It’s like I feel the need to provide valid reasons for why my home looks like people live in it.
More than likely, whoever you’re apologizing to has a house that looks much the same. In fact, when I visit a friend’s house and see it’s less than perfect, it’s kind of comforting. Oh—you’re a human, too!
2 • My Children
I mean, if my son punches another kid in the face, then I’ll probably apologize. Unless of course the kid had it coming to him. (Kidding! Mostly…) But I’m talking about the compulsive need to apologize for my children just being children—or even apologizing for their presence. There have been times people have acted annoyed by my children’s presence or the things they do by accident (bumping into someone, falling down) or the distinctly childlike things they do (their inquisitive natures, reaching out to touch someone’s hand, etc).
The words of C.S. Lewis have helped me keep my perspective on this:
“Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.”
I always want to ask forgiveness when appropriate—and to teach my kids to do the same—but I don’t ever want them to feel like I’m apologizing for their existence. My children are precious blessings, not inconveniences that need disclaimers.
3 • Saying “No”
This has always been a tough one for me because when I do say “no” to someone, I feel like I’ve let them down or the world is going to stop spinning on its axis. But it’s ok to say no without cloaking it in numerous apologies. If I have a valid reason for saying no—maybe I don’t have the time, the skill set, or right motivation—then that should be enough. The world will keep spinning and life will go on. Better to say no up front rather than delaying the inevitable and then having to really apologize because I left someone hanging.
4 • People Doing Nice Things for Me
My husband will do the dishes or fold the laundry, and my gut reaction is to be all, “Gosh, I’m sorry I didn’t already do that” or “Sorry you had to do that.” What I try to do now is just say, “Hey, thanks. I really appreciate that.” I don’t have to turn acts of service into my own personal guilt trip. This compulsive apologizing can also be pretty annoying, I’ve been told. My husband has stopped me mid-apology before and said, “Just let me serve you, ok!?”
Sorry about that…
Chronic apologizing can empty genuine apologies of their meaning. Knee-jerk “I’m sorries” become mere words that just roll off the tongue, oftentimes just to make myself feel better.
True sorrow, repentance, and forgiveness are beautiful things. The knowledge that I have been forgiven and no longer live enslaved to my sin nature is what gives me meaning and purpose. Rather than hiding behind layers of apologies and insecurities, I can live under the freedom of grace provided by Jesus Christ.
No apologies needed.