It was a typical Saturday afternoon, I thought. My wife and I were helping my grown daughter and her family with some yard work at their house. As I shoveled my fifteenth wheel barrel full of mulch and casually chit-chatted with my son-in-law, I had a seemingly random memory.
For some reason, my mind flashed back briefly to the day I first met this guy. It wasn’t a banner day for me. My daughter needed my help with her car that day, and I scrambled away from work to go help her. When I arrived, I was already frustrated and pretty soon her “new” boyfriend arrived to help too. She didn’t have a working car jack. I was getting dirt all over my nice work clothes, and who was this new guy anyway? (“He’s probably only after one thing,” I thought.) The rest of that day is a blur to me, and I hadn’t given it a second thought for 5 years.
But here I was doing yard work with this guy. And the the memory hit me… I acted like a big-time jerk that day, and I had never apologized. And it turns out, the exact guy who showed up to help my daughter that day later became my son-in-law and someone I now love dearly.
So, I apologized.
“Oh, why thank you,” he said, “No problem.” Then he paused and added, “By the way, you might apologize to your daughter, too. We have talked about that day a lot and I know it would mean a lot to her.”
That last statement floored me.
It was 5 years later, and they had thought about it and talked about it a lot. I had offended my daughter and her soon-to-be husband. I had forgotten about it, but they hadn’t. And I didn’t even know. I had unintentionally built a wall between us. It was subtle, but it was there.
I immediately went and found my daughter in the backyard and apologized to her about the incident. It wasn’t a fancy apology, but it was sincere. I could see by her facial expression that she was shocked, and that my apology mattered.
We had a moment.
It was good.
My apology was necessary.
That day I saw the power of an apology. Apologizing can be awkward. Apologizing can be hard. But it can also set someone free. Apologizing is worth it.
Almost ten years ago, a random man tapped my shoulder in church. I’ve never seen this man before that day, or since. At the time, I was struggling then with raising two teenage girls and felt like I was making a ton of mistakes as a dad. He didn’t say a lot. He just handed me a hand scribbled note with this Bible verse. Then, POOF, he was gone. This was the verse:
God says, “Rebuild the road! Clear away the rocks and stones so my people can return from captivity.” (Isaiah 57:14 NLT)
What a verse for all of us who want to be faithful Jesus followers!
I don’t want my actions to be the reason others fall away from God. I don’t want my pride or insensitivity to be a “stumbling block.” I want to remove the those obstacles so that I and others around me can see Jesus more clearly.
In other words, I want to apologize more. After all, especially right now, maybe our society could use a few more apologies.