Way back in the 70's a cartoon series by Kim Casali gripped the public imagination and went, whatever was then the equivalent of today's 'viral', around the globe. If you were there, you will remember the 'Love is...' series, the sweet little characters appeared on greetings cards, T shirts, mugs and all manner of merchandise, declaring the slogan 'Love is...followed by a statement. Undoubtedly the most famous of them all was 'Love is...never having to say you're sorry'. Most everyone who went through adolescence in that decade will have sent one to someone, hands up, I know I did!
These cartoons came to mind recently, when I was given pause to think about the whole business of saying sorry. Yes the sentiment is sweet, that people who love and care about each other enough possess an inherent ability to forgive without the need of words, but this is fatally flawed.
Forgiveness can be a thorny issue. For some, the forgiveness equation can seem like plain nonsense and the act of forgiving nothing more than a sign of weakness, to be shunned at all costs. For us though, we accept that to forgive is the only course but it's just so darn difficult sometimes. We know that forgiveness is vital if we are to walk in freedom but sometimes are still unwilling or even unable to release it.
'Never having to say you're sorry' is wrong on two levels. Firstly it allows the one who has caused offence to avoid taking any responsibility for whatever it is they have done or said and secondly, it leaves the offended person without any closure. That lack of closure can seriously impede our ability to let go of the offence and forgive, and withholding forgiveness will always be costly, inevitably leading to friction, bitterness and strife.
'Sorry' is the mechanism by which forgiveness is released. Saying sorry is simply taking responsibility and admitting that we got it wrong. Often silly, often seemingly trivial, often completely unintentional things can be painful and cause offence.
Hearing sorry is being given the opportunity to let go of the offence and forgive.
And making up...well, we all know how good that can be!
Love is...always saying sorry if you need to.