Holy Everything: Apology is the right turn when you're wrong
How's that bowl (or drawer) of Easter candy looking these days? Have you made it through all the malted milk balls? Does the thought of eating any more sweets actually make you feel a little queasy at this point?
After an especially prolific period of candy consumption (on par with Halloween in my case), I find myself longing for a way to cleanse my system. A sugar detox. A strategy to feel rebalanced and recharged once again.
I feel that same general set of emotions after an especially prolific period of self-righteousness. While being right can feel satisfying on one level, it can also feel pretty gross — especially if in my earnest quest to be the most right, I was actually wrong.
We've all been there; no one is right all the time. Disagreements about who is right and who is wrong show up in national and international politics. They show up in our workplaces and friend groups. But perhaps of greatest impact are the times when these issues show up in our families. We fight (either directly or passive-aggressively) with our siblings, parents, cousins, children, and everyone else on the ancestral tree.
There are plenty of times in family relationships when we fight and later realize we were either totally wrong or at least short-sighted. In that moment (the vulnerability of recognizing our own fallibility), we've got options: 1. Dig in our heels and convince ourselves that we're right or deserving anyway. 2. Avoid the issue altogether. Or 3. Apologize.
Apologizing is like an emotional cleanse; it's a self-righteousness detox. It's one of the healthiest abilities we can develop as human beings, and the timing couldn't be better.
We're now in the season of Easter. Rejoice! It isn't just a one-day celebration. The season of Easter lasts 50 days, propelling us toward Pentecost. Easter is marked with a sense of renewal and rebirth; we're basking in the light of the resurrection.
In this spirit of all things made new, it's a good occasion upon which to consider prioritizing the ability to say that we're sorry when we make mistakes.
In healthy relationships, all involved parties develop the ability to apologize and then let go. Digging in our heels doesn't work in the long term. Pretending our mistakes will go away on their own is not sustainable. A healthier alternative is to nurture the practice of apologizing. It isn't about admitting weakness. It's about preserving and prioritizing relationships.
I recently saw the film "Zootopia" at the theater. It's a fantastic animated movie that explores issues related to psychology, racism, and groupthink. There's a scene when Judy Hoops — a police officer bunny — realizes she's made a giant mistake. In her sincere desire to keep the public safe, she makes huge, incorrect assessments about an entire population of the animal kingdom. In doing so, she offends her best friend, Nick Wilde — a fox.
Judy eventually comes to recognize her mistake. She finds Nick and, with tears her eyes, apologizes for the ways her wrong beliefs hurt Nick and others. Nick accepts her apology, and they move forward stronger than before.
The healing happened because Judy was willing to admit she messed up. She said she was sorry. It was a cleanse for her and for Nick. They were able to move on.
As we progress into the joys of Easter, remember that you are made new. Are there relationships in your life that might benefit from the extension of a sincere apology? As the old, toxic gut rot is washed away, space is made for new, life-giving memories and experiences. What a powerful emotional cleanse!