Tag Archive: repentance

“It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man.” [Jack Handey]

Ah, i love me some Jack Handey, but as i continue to look at some different aspects that define the character of a person, i’m not quite sure that would be the best approach.

However, when we hear the word “Sorry!” coming out of our mouth, we should always be asking ourselves one key question:


i imagine, to some great extent, that uttering the phrase, “I’m sorry” is a natural response to being caught in some kind of wrongdoing or hurt-causing and we should always at some point, really take a moment to pause and think about how sorry we actually are.


There is a difference between saying the words, “I’m sorry!” and actually being sorry. Maybe a word like repentance is more helpful because it carries the idea of an about turn or a change in direction. Is my action following my wording going to back up my wording? This links to closely to the post i wrote on your actions needing to back up your words and the phrase, “Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear the words you speak.” 

Trying to move away from false knee-jerk apologising would be a good start in this. Another quote i read on this went along the lines of encouraging you not to give an excuse when you apologise. If there is a reason for your action or if something was misunderstood and an explanation feels necessary then it might be more helpful and meaningful to separate the two. When you say the words, “I’m sorry, but…” it probably starts to feel about as believable as a good old, “I’m not racist, but…” [almost always followed by a racist statement of note!] An “I’m sorry but I really shouldn’t have to be sorry and here are the reasons why” kind of thing.

So maybe figuring out what a valid apology is. Maybe it is simply, “I’m sorry that you were hurt” or “I’m sorry that your expectation was not missed” or something that acknowledges the pain of the other person.


# Am i genuinely sorry? Am i seeing my fault in this? Am i owning whatever was my responsibility in this situation?

# Am i apologising in a way that doesn’t sound like it is coming off as an excuse which really negates the whole apology?

# Am i planning on changing my actions or doing something to make this thing better or giving recompensation where necessary?

[This last point a particular touchy point for most white South Africans i imagine – of course we are sorry for apartheid and everything that went with it, but we don’t particularly want that to cost us anything.]


i remember reading this statement as a child, probably in one of those “Love is…” cartoon strips that were so popular then:

‘Love means never having to say you’re sorry.’

Urgh, what a load of raiSIN-infested bollocks! But really. It might sound like a good idea. And can be truth if you are pursuing the idea of saying alone not being helpful. But if the idea is that you never have to own your crap or change your direction or back pedal and make up for something jerky you did, then it really is an unfortunate greeting card and nothing more. Love is being committed to serving the other person and grabbing hold of responsibility for actions or words even when that is uncomfortable or painful for you, because you know that you were in the wrong. When this is coming from both parties, then strong relationships start to form.

And a whole lot more, I’m sure, but for now, just the opportunity to reflect on the idea that being a person of character means taking responsibility in the best and most helpful and healing of ways when, intentionally or not, you mess up and hurt someone else.


[To return to the beginning of this series on Character, click here]

DAY 39ish

i saw this prayer/poem/reflection? on my friend Conso’s Facebook wall and thought it was too good not to share…

Task: Mediate and reflect on the following words as they have meaning for you:


Until i encountered the CROSS…

i knew confession but did not know repentance,

i knew ritual but did not know true worship,

i knew guilt and shame but did not know redemption,

i knew judgement and condemnation but did not know grace,

i knew loss and grief but did not know reconciliation and restoration.

Now i know…


[For the next Lent observance post, click here]


i don’t feel very strong right now.

i feel wronged. badly done by. hurt. betrayed. disappointed.

and yet again and again it comes back to me that the call is on me to forgive.

pride. ego. self-righteousness. my idea of “justice”. all these things rally against me, trying to convince me that i am in the right [maybe i am] and that the other should approach me [maybe they should] and seek peace and restoration. and maybe in the ideal world that is what should happen.

but i come from a far greater than ideal world. i come from a kingdom. and in this kingdom it often appears as if everything is upside down. and yet when you tilt your head, change your perspective, and open your eyes to really see how the upsidedowness really takes shape, it is quickly obvious to see how this new way is so much better. this new way is right. this kingdom brings life.

it doesn’t demand love, it earns it. it showers it indiscriminantly on whoever is in arms reach. and those beyond. it seeks out people to Love who may not be the likeliest of candidates or people who i might feel are all that deserving.

am i? am i deserving.
if ‘forgiveness is the attribute of the strong’ then i don’t feel so strong right now.
i feel tired from having walked that road before. so many times.
always the one to seek peace, to chase with repentance, to humble myself [that’s probably not true, but it’s certainly what i like to think]

forgive those who deserve it? easy. i can do that. i have. again and again.
but those who don’t? sure, but can i at least make them feel bad? can i at least see them ask for it or at the very least even seek it?
because often they don’t. often it has to be me who has to set out on that same journey again [my shoes feel worn down, and in the absence of shoes, my feet]

i think of my buddy Dunc. how is he still my friend? i honestly sometimes don’t know. oh i get why we are friends and what we share in common and how we can laugh and enjoy life to the full together. i get how we can be friends. and are.

but i have given that boy some crap. man, he has experienced some of the depths of my bad moods and hockey-related tantrums and unfairness accusations and passive aggressive looks [that if they could kill i’d have been put away for life]. and yet he has still stayed around. and loved me. and been so incredibly generous to me and Val just again and again and again.

and so thankx Dunc. maybe in you i will discover some hope for myself.

and in Jesus! cos He sticks with me. and i know i’ve let Him down again and again.
and yet He keeps welcoming me back. and He keeps being incredibly generous. and He keeps putting amazing opportunities in front of me

and more importantly, when i don’t seem to possess enough of this particular attribute of the strong
and when i arrive once more at a place where i feel wronged. badly done by. hurt. betrayed. disappointed.
He refuses to let me stay there. He refuses to let me wallow.
or wait [fruitlessly perhaps] for the other person to set out on my path.

the nudge comes. the Spirit speaks. the call is made.
you put this right. you Love. you forgive. and I will give you everything you need to be able to do it.
seventy times seven – My kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

[to all those friends and family of mine who have never given up on me – despite quite possibly having cause – i thank you so much – it means the world to me – despite how completely wrong i can get it from time to time, i really do try.]

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