Working a retail job one Saturday afternoon, I helped a woman move her walker from her car to inside the store.
After I pointed her to the greeting cards, and set the walker down so she could sit in it while perusing the cards, she asked me if there were any “I’m sorry cards.”
“Uhm, I don’t think so, but I’ll look.” I knew I had never seen any inside this store.
Bible bookstore. Wouldn’t this place carry I’m Sorry cards? (You’d think.)
After my search come up dry, the woman began to tell me that she had come looking specifically for an I’m Sorry card, and proceeded to tell me why. As she opted for the Thank You cards and enlisted my help in finding just the right one, she got further into her story, and began to weep tears of regret (2 Corinthians 7 came to mind, particularly verse 10). Unsure of what to do or say, I ran (well, not literally, but almost) to a tissue box, took it, returned to the woman and offered her the box. She took quite a few tissues, as is to be expected.
An older woman, just out of surgery from the VA hospital, in search of an I’m Sorry card. Coming up dry. Crying her eyes out. She was really sorry, and didn’t have the right card. I was beginning to feel sorry, myself.
Pondering this situation much later, I wondered if the lack of I’m Sorry cards pointed to a much larger problem in Christendom. (At this point, this is where you may want to stop reading if you do not wish to unravel different thoughts and attempt tying them together. I am quite capable of making my own head hurt, along with yours.) Perhaps we have lost the art of saying “I’m sorry” and truly meaning it. Maybe we have treated “repentance” too flippantly for the sake of keeping on a serene holy mask that would fool anyone, letting pride sit on our hearts, slowly eating away, just like a lazy worm.
After doing a preliminary search for Apology cards, I discovered that they are quite difficult to locate and obtain, although they do exist. Then a random piece of trivia came to me, a piece that I had probably read in one of hundreds (thousands?) of books I’ve flipped through (the problem with working with books year after year is that one can arbitrarily come up with little pieces of information, and have little recollection of how that information got into one’s brain). The piece of information in my brain said something like: constantly saying “I’m sorry” reflects a low image of oneself. Call it “low self-esteem” (self-esteem would be a whole ‘nother blog post, so I’ll avoid becoming side-tracked).
Hm. If this is how people think, no WONDER Apology cards are hard to find.
Although, that piece of information is quite legitimate in some aspects. I could see situations in which that would be very applicable, to which I will leave to your imagination. But flip the coin. Wouldn’t that also be indicative of pride? Apologizing more than necessary to avoid punishment? Saying three little words to sweep it all under the rug and say, All gone now. Done. No worries.
“I am sorry.” Those three words have certainly depreciated.
As people in general, it would be nice if more could truly say, “I’m sorry.”
But take it back to the Bible bookstore. How many books would you find on, say, conflict resolution, community life, repentance, reconciliation? Not many. How many books would you find on Becoming a Better Version of oneself? Too many. As followers of Christ, we have to learn to live with each other, not just one person (myself, yourself). That means having to say, “I’m sorry” and not just saying it. None of us is better than the other, and none of us are above screwing up. We need to show others what “I’m sorry” means. (Check out 2 Corinthians and Philippians, just to name a couple of resources on living as family in the kingdom.)
P.S. Just so we’re clear, I am far from having this whole thing down.
P.P.S. I think apology cards are only the beginning, but they need to be more easily found.
P.P.P.S I am not surprised that apology cards were nowhere to be found in that store, and difficult to be found anywhere else. After all, [insert dry tone here] according to Joel Osteen, aren’t you supposed to be Activating Your Faith and Achieving Your Dreams? Come, now. Who has time for I’m Sorry cards? Think positive.
P.P.P.P.S. Forgiveness deserves a separate blog post, too.