Just Say You’re Sorry

Life would be sweeter if we'd say I'm sorry

You need to know about Julie. I just met her Saturday. But I already want to be like her.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

First Meet Anna

I’ve never met Julie. I am outside meeting a different lady (I’ll call her Anna here). Anna is one of our guests at Outdoor Church. She looks disturbed.

I ask Anna if she’d gotten her meal. A free lunch is always served to our homeless friends when Outdoor Church finishes each first Saturday of the month at Manna House.

This month’s service and meal are being hosted by Julie’s church. They are grilling barbecue chicken to bless all who show up.

Anna tells me they were rude to her on the meal line. That they said she was a rule-breaker. And that she knows she is not a rule-breaker.

I believe Anna believes that.

But I believe differently.

I have seen how loving the people from Julie’s church have been. How gentle. How generous.

I tell Anna everything will be fine. We can go back in line. She is welcome to get a meal.

She is finally convinced. But only if I will come with her.

Now Meet Julie

In line, Julie and her friends offer Anna a plate, as I knew they would.

But Anna begins pointing at Julie. “It’s her! She thinks I’m a rule-breaker.”

I see the shocked look on Julie’s face. She is clueless.

Julie has no idea what is going on. She does not know why this woman is pointing a finger at her.

I try to smooth things over with Anna, convince her that it’s all a misunderstanding, that Julie isn’t mad at her.

But Anna won’t have it. She keeps pointing at Julie.

I don’t know what to do. I often don’t in these situations. I need more skills.

But I’m getting nowhere with Anna. So I go behind the line to meet Julie.

She doesn’t know me; I don’t know her.

I tell Julie, I know you did nothing wrong. But will you tell this lady you don’t think she’s a rule-breaker? She has mental problems.”

Julie probably thinks I am the one with mental problems (and I admit, I have my days).

But she listens to me. Then she turns to Anna.

The Best Part

And this is what Julie says. (This is the best part of the story.)

Julie tells Anna, “I am so sorry. I was wrong. I would love to give you some food.”

Anna leans in. She mumbles something again about not being a rule-breaker.

And Julie repeats, looking Anna in the eye with humility and sincerity, “I don’t think that about you. I am the one who is wrong. I’m sorry.”

And Anna melts to her kindness.

Her belligerence fades. Her resistance disappears. She says, “Ok.” She takes a plate and is on her way.

Now I am the one who can’t let it go.

I go back to give Julie a hug. To thank her for what she just did. For her gracious apology to a stranger who had falsely accused her.

She shrugs it off. She laughs. She says she’s used to saying she’s sorry.

I can laugh, too. The drama is over. I tell Julie I want to be more like her. I mean it.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Just Say This

Life would be sweeter if we would say “I’m sorry” more often.

Even if we are not in the wrong, we can still be sorry. We can still apologize. We can still be humble.

When Julie said, “I’m sorry” to Anna, I saw Jesus in her.

I want to see more of Jesus in me.

Maybe I need to say “I’m sorry” more often, too.

* * *

When’s the last time you said, “I’m sorry”? Is it hard or easy for you? When has someone else’s apology changed a situation for you? Please share in the comments.

48 thoughts on “Just Say You’re Sorry

  1. Theresa Boedeker

    What a sweet story, Lisa. If we were all like Julie, there would be so much less anger and hard feelings in this world. For years it was hard for me to apologize. Probably a pride issue. And then I remember someone saying, “It really is no big deal to say I’m sorry, but the benefits are many.” And so I started saying I was sorry more. At first it was real difficult. And then it got easier and easier. Until really it was no big deal because I am a sinner and a human and both of them require a lot of saying I’m sorry. Saying I’m sorry puts me for a moment in the other person’s point of view. And that is a good thing and

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You speak from wisdom, Theresa. It’s so true that practicing makes a difference. It’s one thing to “know” what to do, but it’s another altogether to actually “do” it. Thanks for sharing from your experience. That encourages me.

  2. Barbie

    It is so true. Saying I’m sorry goes a long way in mending relationships, even if we aren’t the ones needing to say it. When we humble ourselves and take a step toward another, bridges are formed. Thanks for coming back to link up!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re right, Barbie. And regardless of the exact words used, the point is that when our words reflect a heart of humility and of a desire to connect, beautiful things happen.

  3. Barbara H.

    I have a tendency to want to explain and justify myself (“Yes, I did wrong but this caused it”) along with the “I’m sorry.” And sometimes explaining the situation helps, but too often it detracts from what that person really needs to hear. And to apologize when one hasn’t even done anything wrong – that must have taken a lot of grace, but I’m so thankful Julie did.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m the same way, Barbara. I want to explain so the person will understand why I messed up (and because it makes me feel better and less guilty). But yes, sometimes that explanation can negate the whole apology if I’m using it to justify what I did. I need more practice in just saying I’m sorry and letting it go at that, with no defense on my part, just humility.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      This situation brought tears to my eyes, too, Susan. I hope I adequately expressed to Julie what a big thing it was to watch her in action. It truly was a holy moment to me.

  4. Michele Morin

    Such a heartwarming story. So glad you got to play a part in that reconciliation. I’m finding it easier to say I’m sorry than I used to — like Julie, I guess I’ve had lots of practice!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I definitely have had lots of opportunities to say I’m sorry, but I haven’t always taken full advantage of those opportunities. I want to be better about it because a well-said apology is such an act of grace. Thanks for sharing, Michele.

  5. Alice Walters

    This is absolutely beautiful, Lisa! The Lord must love you a whole lot to have allowed you to be a part of this exchange of bitterness for grace. Prayers for continued blessings this week!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “exchange of bitterness for grace” – beautiful phrased, Alice. That’s exactly what it was. I wonder why the Lord allowed me to see it; he obviously knew I needed it for my own healing as well. Such a blessing! I appreciate your insights here. You’ve got me thinking even more now….

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I agree, Amanda: it is definitely better to just release our bitterness and say we’re sorry. I can’t imagine how much of a difference that would make in everyone’s relationships if we could humble ourselves like that.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, sorry is one of those short words with a POWERFUL effect when used appropriately. I definitely need to include it in my vocabulary more often than I do! I can learn lots from Julie too. Thanks, Esther.

  6. Mary Geisen

    What a difference it would make if we would say “I’m sorry” first even if we are not wrong. Sometimes taking the first step opens the door for the other person to pause and understand a little piece of humility.

    Thank you for our story. I want to be you someday. You have a beautiful heart for serving and writing.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re too kind, Mary. I have SO much room for growth, especially when I see people like Julie. My first reaction might have been to get defensive. 🙁 But thankfully she showed the better way to all of us!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Good point, Maryleigh. I know I too often offend or am offended by something that wasn’t even intentional, but if the perception is such, then I need a spirit of humility to make it right.

  7. Lisa

    Oh, this is so true. How many times we say “sorry” with insincerity literally dripping from our tone.

    This is a powerful reminder for us all.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That’s a good point, too….we can say sorry and not mean it at all. If we are going to use the words, we need to make sure our heart is backing it up. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Trudy

    Oh Lisa, this brings tears to my eyes. What a beautiful example of Jesus and His love Julie showed to Anna. It struck me, too, how she didn’t say, “I’m sorry you misunderstood me” which would kind of swing the blame back to Anna, but she humbly took the blame on herself. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story! Love and hugs!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It brought tears to my eyes even as it was happening. Holy ground. I could easily see myself saying what you suggested, “I’m sorry you misunderstood me” and feeling all righteous about it. But that would have done nothing to heal Anna’s perceived hurt. Sometimes we need to just shoulder the blame, even when it’s not ours, and follow the example of our Lord. I love your tender heart, Trudy.

  9. Gayl

    Lisa, thanks so much for sharing this story. Oh how we need to be reminded of the importance of love and care, of being willing to say “I’m sorry” even if we aren’t in the wrong. May God give us grace that we might be able to live like Julie and speak words of love and kindness always.

    Blessings to you! I’m your neighbor at #TellHisStory.

  10. Lois Flowers

    Oh Lisa … this is SUCH a wonderful story. I have experienced the power of this in my own life–asking for forgiveness in a bad situation that was not my fault. It was a life-changing experience, and I’m so thankful for the dear mentor who encouraged me to do it. 🙂 I know God put this post in front of me today because I am now facing another situation where this might be necessary. I cringe to think of it because it is so hard, but I’m glad you wrote what you did! Hugs, friend!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I cringe with you, Lois. You’ve already had to do this in a major way and now you’re facing it again? God knows you’re big enough for this challenge! It SO encourages me to hear about it. I’ll be praying it goes well. What a blessing that you had a mentor who encouraged you to do it the first time; such wisdom and courage.

  11. Karen Woodall

    The whole world is about defending themselves today. It’s so very important to remember that it’s better to be wronged for the gospel than to be right and push someone away. thanks for this wonderful story!

  12. floyd

    Love this, Lisa. You know my feelings about the beauty of humility. No humility, no God… It’s that simple. And how wonderful it is to be around the folks with genuine humility.

  13. valerie

    What a powerful story. I love how you saw the truth behind Anna’s words and saw into the heart of the issue. God gave you such discernment. Thank you for shining light into some of the stubborn places in my own heart that don’t want to say sorry when I feel I have no reason to.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I give all the credit to Julie. She was amazing. I hope I’ll run into her again someday so I can tell her how much her apology to Anna has continued to influence me. And hopefully taught me to apologize quicker myself. 🙂 Thanks, Valerie.

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