Stop Apologizing & Bear Fruit
Have you ever apologized and felt like it didn’t help? I have. In fact, I think it does no good to keep on apologizing over and over again, especially when you know what you did was wrong… especially when you know you need to apologize. Perhaps you missed your child’s game because you took a nap and didn’t wake up; or, you forgot to bring home the milk you promised to pick up. Whatever it was, you apologized but things just kept getting worse. You may have found yourself asking, “What do they want from me? I said I was sorry!” Let me offer a suggestion. In order to strengthen your apology and reconcile the relationship, you need to stop apologizing and “bear the fruit of repentance.” You need to show that the apology is more than just words; it’s a heartfelt desire to make a change. How can you assure your family that you are bearing the fruit of change? Let them smell the aroma of your apology and taste the sweetness of the fruit of your repentance. Here’s how:
· Acknowledge what you did was wrong and that it had an impact on the whole family. Recognize that your family members had to compensate for your wrong actions. Recognize the work they did, and continue to do, to make up for your mistake or wrongdoing. Thank your spouse for being available to take your children to their activities when you chose to watch TV. Thank your children for “picking up the slack” left by your wrongdoing. Acknowledge that your actions resulted in the family having to do more work. Admire the work they did and appreciate how well they did it.
· Change your behavior. I realize this takes effort and you may not reach perfection overnight; but, put in a genuine effort to change. As part of your apology, identify an alternative behavior that you will strive to achieve and describe that behavior to your family. Develop a plan to help you move toward the “new and improved behavior.” Seriously, sit down with your family members and develop steps that will help you engage in the new behavior. Be diligent in working to change your behavior.
· Reveal your commitment to change by participating in family talks, walks, and activities. Become an integral part of the family. Commit to learning about the interests and needs of other family members. Make it just as important in your life to know your family’s interests and needs as it is to know your own. Participate in your family by generously giving them your time and energy.
· Giving generously to your family will demand some sacrifice on your part. You might have to sacrifice some of “your personal time.” You might need to sacrifice some of the energy you invest in “your thing” so you have more energy to invest in your family. I’m not saying you have to give up everything you like; but, set some limits around your own interests so you can invest more in your family. Doing this will inform your family that they are more important to you than anything else.
The diligence with which you perform these four tasks will give your family a taste of the true flavor of your apology. The joy with which you perform these tasks will let them know if the fruit of your apology is ripe and ready for enjoyment or rotten and ready for the trash. As you commit to these tasks on a daily basis, you will find that you also enjoy the juicy fruit of repentance. After all, the fruit of a sincere apology will fill the whole family with the sweet taste of intimacy, joy, and pleasure. So, stop apologizing and bear some fruit.