“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son’" (Luke 15:21).
“A stiff apology is a second insult . . . The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.” - G.K. Chesterson
I have a pretty tough apology to make this week. I will confess to you that I do not want to have to do it. The more I think about it, the more my sinful mind begins thinking other thoughts—alternative thoughts—thoughts of deflecting the fault to someone else, or even of feigning my own “hurt” from the situation in an attempt to distract from my fault.
Do you ever have those kinds of conversations in your head?
My dad called it “Loser’s Limp.” I was about ten years old. I was the second-string quarterback of the Bellaire Panthers Pop Warner football team. I was running plays with the second-string offense against our very formidable first-string defense. I called a simple running play in the huddle, came to the line, called for the snap, and proceeded to turn the wrong direction to hand-off the ball. It was a busted play and I got smeared all over the field by our entire defense. I was the last to get up. I was humiliated and maybe just a little bit injured.
I did not want to face my coach, so I slowly but emphatically limped off the field, hoping everyone would forget my mistake and just feel sorry for me and my injury (which was growing worse and worse in my mind). I got to the sidelines and met Dad’s gaze. He was giving me the disappointed look (I didn’t get that look very often, but I still recognized it). I protested the look and insisted that I was injured. And that was the first time I can remember Dad using the term “Loser’s Limp.” He saw right through my ploy, knew I was not really injured, and knew I was more humiliated than anything else.
The lesson Dad was teaching me was to own my mistakes . . . to be willing to confess them and learn from them. He caught me trying to hide behind a fake injury, and he called me on it. Lesson learned!
Picture the “lost son” in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal. Wouldn’t it have been easy for him to come home with a bad case of “Loser’s Limp?” Can’t you just see him limping home and gushing all over his father about the hardships he had been through and playing on his father’s sympathy? How easy that would have been! But he did not. He came home and completely owned his mistake: “Father, I have sinned against Heaven and against you . . . I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
No Loser’s Limp there. It is a model confession and apology.
Let’s be honest here. I do not enjoy confession and apologies any more than you do. But, my short-lived Loser’s Limp, together with many years and a great deal of practice making mistakes, has taught me that, in the long run, it is always easier to just own my failures and make my apologies than to do any of the “alternative” things my mind can conceive. Believe me, my mind can get pretty creative when humiliation sets in and an apology is needed. It can convince me that my own “injury” is just as serious as the one I caused. It can keep me so focused on my own Loser’s Limp that my apology comes out stiff and lifeless and ends up doing more harm than good.
I would like to think I have learned my lesson and can own my mistakes and can make my apologies. So, here I go . . . I have a call to make.
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