The Apology You Never Got

Erik Cooper —  July 17, 2013 — 2 Comments

When I was in the second grade, my best friend (and eventual best man at my wedding) smashed a wad of silly putty into my hair during a Sunday School class disagreement.

I don’t really remember the details of the spat (it probably stemmed from who’s dad could beat up who’s or some other 7-year-olds’ theological debate), but after a quick date with some scissors and a (forced) apology from his mom, my buddy and I were playing again like nothing ever happened a few short hours later.

After all, he (sort of) said he was sorry. Forgiveness flows pretty easy when your seven (and have nothing else to do on a Sunday afternoon).


Even as an adult, I’ve always thought of myself as a relatively forgiving person. I’ve never really been a grudge-holder, or the kind of guy who goes around looking for reasons to be irritated, which is why I was surprised to hear this blurt out of my mouth during a recent heart-to-heart with a friend:

“If she would just face-up and acknowledge what she did, I would feel so much better about things. A simple apology and I could move on.”

Wow. Wasn’t that an unexpected glimpse into my own heart? I was harboring an offense and didn’t even know it. I was more than ready to extend forgiveness, but I had made it contingent on an action from my offending party. I was waiting for an apology I felt I rightly deserved.

Now obviously that type of confession and reconciliation is ideal. But let’s face it, it’s not always the way real life goes down. Sometimes our wounding party doesn’t see the situation the same way, is incapable of taking responsibility, feels equally wounded by us, or is just too prideful to admit they were wrong. So what do we do? Lug around all those outstanding tabs? Add them to our balance sheet? Clip them into Evernote?

Of course not. We turn to the wisdom of social media!

A Twitter post I saw this week synopsized a powerful thought tool that just might free you from an (even unknown) burden of unforgiveness. I’m not sure if this originated with him or not, but the farthest back I could trace this little gold nugget was a husband, father (and apparent bacon lover) named @TreyMorgan. It’s been rocking my world all week.

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 3.56.54 PM

Let me type out that graphic for any of you stone-age readers who might be seeing this as text only.

“Life is SO much better when you accept the apology that you never got.”#Forgiveness

I dont’ know about you, but that idea really resonates with me. Look, there are moments to confront, to debate, to express honest and heartfelt wounding in an attempt to bring healing to a relationship. That’s Biblical. But how do you respond when the apology you’re longing for never comes?

Perhaps you accept it anyway.

2 responses to The Apology You Never Got

  1. Good stuff Erik. A great friend helped me see it this way a few years ago: Don’t confuse forgiveness with reconciliation. We can forgive unilaterally, but it takes two to reconcile. That has changed my life and mental well-being. I also think it helped me quit making idols out of due, but not offered, apologies. Keep at it, E!

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