Confessions, Apologies, Do-Overs and the AARP

I am absolutely stunned, on the cusp of my 50th birthday, to be quoting from an article in the AARP magazine, the most recent issue of which I quite enjoyed.  Finding Valerie Bertinelli on the cover made me realize that yes, I am aging into a new space.

The article, entitled “Who’s Sorry Now?  Everyone!” is about apologies and how the proliferation of social media and dedicated websites is making it easy for aging baby boomers to seek out and say they’re sorry for all sorts of things.

Apparently there are a number of websites that help out when an apology is in order.  This is fascinating.  Parents know about the difficulty of getting your children to say more than “SORRRRRRRYYYYYYYYYYY, jerk” when they have done something wrong.  Maybe these sites can be an aid to all the parents out there trying to teach principles of confession, apology, forgiveness.

I’m interested in WHY the sites espouse apologies.  And what the different tones are.  I’ve enjoyed some surfing through the various options, musing on this trend.  Not that forgiveness and apology are new ideas, mind you, but what is it in our collective experience that is bringing about a proliferation of such sites.  Why now?  And how does our culture see apology?

Perfect Apology has this blurb:  The key to success is to ask for forgiveness in the right way, at the right time. It seems that apologizing is good for business.  There is even a section on this site devoted especially to “business apologies” with the goal of “customer retention” (as in “The customer is always right.”) and medical apologies with the goal of  avoiding malpractice suits and/or adding fuel to the fire if you’re already being sued.

On the site, Im (stet), I found this quote, which is telling:

“If I’ve done anything I’m sorry for, I’m willing to be forgiven.”
Edward N. Westcott

On this site, you can send an “epology,” request an apology (hopefully whoever you’re mad at will miraculously log in or welcome your email), and/or rate other people’s apologies (“Not groveling enough for my taste!”).  There’s even a section that catalogues recent “celebrity and politician apologies.”

I was a little cynical, yet when I went to read some of the apologies from regular people I was really touched by people’s remorse. People really do hold on to their shame and guilt for a long time.  And it does feel right to make amends.  AA knows what they’re talking about.  Yet we have forgiveness available even without these websites, even without the person granting it (“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”).

And there is a difference in worldly sorrow (“It sucks that I got caught.”) and godly sorrow (“God is grieved when I violate his commands to love him and others.”).

And I love the verse in 1 Corinthians 4:4 that says, “My conscience is clear but that doesn’t make me innocent.”  Amen! How little we know our own motives, much less our motives for apologizing.

So if I could apologize to someone from my past it would be to a kind teacher (who never did anything wrong but try to teach me algebra against my will) because I laughed at her expense at a friend’s fat jokes.  No, she didn’t know it.  But it still feels like a betrayal.  We have a lot of power in each other’s lives, even in brief encounters.

God’s forgiveness is real, and I’m reminded of that Martina McBride song lyric: “Love’s the only house big enough for all the pain in the world.”


~ by Cary on July 12, 2010.

2 Responses to “Confessions, Apologies, Do-Overs and the AARP”

  1. I never heard that verse translated like that before, but I like it very much — brings out an aspect to it that was never clear to me before. Thank you for that.

  2. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on it.

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