"Tell your sister you’re sorry.”
I thought it seemed like a perfectly reasonable demand considering the fact that
my two-year-old son, Alex, had just tried to hit Madison, his older sister, in the
head with a toy because she wouldn’t let him watch the Barbie Nutcracker movie
for the 10th time.
But Alex wouldn’t budge. He willingly accepted all of his punishment except
saying he was sorry. He simply refused. It was one of those times when as a parent
you wish there was a handbook that addressed all of these tricky situations.
But just as I was pondering what my next move would be, Alex walked over to his
sister without saying a word and gave her a big hug. Mission accomplished.
Way to Say 'I'm Sorry'
Saying “I’m sorry” is never easy. Doing so is an admission that
we screwed up, and very few of us are comfortable with admitting that.
But let’s face it: We all make mistakes and have to say we’re sorry
sometimes. Luckily, as Catholics, we have many ways to say “I’m sorry.”
Of course, the easiest way is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, often referred
to as Confession, even though confession is only one part of the sacrament. The trouble
is, not a lot of people take full advantage of this sacrament—myself included.
The whole point of the sacrament is to make things right again. When we sin, we
are separated from both God and the Church community. Going to Confession offers
a way to fix the relationship.
This month, many people will be making—and possibly already breaking—their
New Year’s resolutions. Make an effort to start this year with a clean slate.
Here are some suggestions how:
Head to the confessional. As I said before, this sacrament is often under-used
by Catholics. Take advantage of this opportunity to make things right with God and
Make “I’m sorry” part of your vocabulary. As a parent,
I realized early on that it’s just as important for me to say “I’m
sorry” to my kids when I screw up as it is for me to teach them the importance
of apologizing. As you well know, kids mimic what they see—even when you wish
they wouldn’t. Give them a positive example.
Accentuate the positive. A priest recently told me that at the end of each
Confession he asks the person to say one or two things he or she is doing right.
He said that it often stops the person cold. So often we focus on the things we need
to apologize for and we forget to pay attention to the things we’re doing right.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. I’m sure each of us knows someone
who is constantly apologizing for one thing or another, even if it’s not warranted.
When overused, saying “I’m sorry” can lose its power.
Let go of a grudge. Sometimes situations get to a point where neither person
can say “I’m sorry” because the disagreement has gone on for so
long—or one or both of you don’t even remember what the argument was
about. Reevaluate whether or not it’s worth spending your energy holding onto
Read and reflect. Take some time to read—either alone or with your
Next Month: Faith in Action