Don't Say Your Sorry
In high school, I became obsessed with the characters Bob and Doug McKenzie, portrayed by comedians Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas on the early 1980s show SCTV.
They said things like, "How's it going, eh?" "Take off!" and "You hosers!" They loved the band Rush (so did I ) and introduced me to Molson Golden (beer) and "tuks" (stocking caps). I spent hours trying to learn to talk like them.
I've had a few Canadian friends, and I've always loved how they talk. They sound just like Americans, for the most part, but there are these wonderful colloquialisms they use that make me smile.
One such colloquialism is the word "sorry," which is generally pronounced "sore-y."
Canadians apologize a lot. They're very polite.
Today I have been thinking about the difference between apologies and repentance. There is a difference, in case you were wondering.
I think because of how I was raised and a host of other factors, including my vocation as a pastor, I have a knee-jerk reaction to apologize for things quickly when I sense that I've upset someone.
But I also apologize for things that aren't my fault, too. Mostly because I don't want anyone to think I'm terrible, but also I do it to diffuse tense situations. Falling on my sword feels like the easiest way to keep the peace.
Maybe you resonate with this.
Or perhaps you have a different experience with apologies. Maybe there is someone in your life who apologizes profusely every time they wound you, but then they just keep doing it.
It could also be that you have that same tendency to apologize and then keep doing the very thing that necessitates your apologies.
I'm learning that the difference between apologizing and repentance comes from our willingness or ability to change. Repentance requires more than merely apologizing for what we've done or said that has harmed others.
Poet and author Padraig O'Tuama put it like this:
Repentance acts as an antidote to childishness. It asks for action, and is not satisfied with sorrow. You can be sorry all you like, but change is the fruit of responsibility.
In the Scriptures, both the words in Hebrew and Greek for "repentance" have to do with a "turning around" or a "change in direction."
In this vein, when you repent, you are headed one way and then realize that your running is leading you away from God and your true self, so you turn around.
Sorrowing over what you've done or said might be the catalyst, but repentance "asks for action," meaning that you change direction.
May we find the strength to seek true repentance when we've wronged others. May we find grace for those who struggle to do the same. And may we all know that it is God's unconditional love and grace that holds us, envelopes us, and makes us whole.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.