The door swung open to my right as the lukewarm water splashed over my hands in the sink.
“Excuse me.” Said the woman pushing her way through the bathroom door.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” The words spilled out of my mouth before I even realized what I was saying. As I finished drying my hands, the elderly woman closing the stall door quietly said, “Never be sorry,” with a smirk.
I politely smiled as I started to walk out the door, face flushed red at the admonition. Good Lord, why do I always say I’m sorry for everything?
“Sorry, I’m in your way, sorry I’m in line before you, sorry I’m breathing, sorry I’m alive..”
It’s what I say.
It’s this annoying, knee-jerk response I have to any inconvenience, even if I did absolutely nothing to be sorry about.
“Why do I do that?” I muttered to myself under my breath as I walked to the car.
Exhaling deeply, I fastened my seatbelt as I thought about those words the woman exhaled.
“Never be sorry.”
They sound wise.
All of the things that I was sorry for began marching through my mind. The list was long.
Turning out of the parking lot, I turned down the radio so I could hear my own thoughts a little more closely.
“Never be sorry,” I whispered to myself. I like the idea of never being sorry, it’s like “no regrets.” But truth be told, I am sorry. I do regret. It sounds so virtuous to never be sorry, to yell at the top of my lungs, “no regrets!”
The problem is, I have lots of regrets.
There’s plenty of things I wish would’ve done and even more, I wish I wouldn’t have. Words I’ve spoken that I can never take back.. and so many I’ve left unsaid.
“What right does she have to tell me to never be sorry?” I asked the silence sitting next to me.
Frowning, I realized I was being unfair. She may have been sorry about many things in her life and wanted to give a little encouragement to those that still have many days of regret ahead. I don’t know the life she’s lived.
But nonetheless, I’m sorry.
It’s okay to be sorry
Reading this morning about King David and his life in I and II Samuel I noticed that he was a man who was sorry. Psalm 51 is one of the greatest “I’m sorry’s” in the whole Bible. At its simplest, it is an I’m sorry for what I did. In return, God extends His gracious forgiveness.
“For I acknowledge my transgressions…against you, you only, have I sinned. According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.” Psalm 51: 1,3,4
If we’re sorry, a true repentant sorry, that’s never a bad thing. We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. There is so much to be sorry for. And quite frankly, that’s okay.
Having said that, I don’t think God intends for us to walk around constantly sorry. The point of this Psalm and the forgiveness we find in Jesus is restoration. We can be sorry but then we move on in the grace and freedom we find in Him.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
Looking up the various meanings for steadfast within the Bible, the word translates to be firmly established, stable, secure or settled. I just love that. We say, “I’m sorry” and in return, he gives stability and security.
That sounds like freedom to me.
Even within our earthly relationships, there is so much to gain from being sorry. In parenting, I have learned the importance of saying I’m sorry to my children when I’ve messed up. For years I did not realize that it is as essential in our relationship, if not more so, for me to speak I’m sorry as it is for them to say it.
There is a barrier that breaks down when they see the humanness of their mom. And for me, a perfect humility created within my own heart when I turn to them and ask for forgiveness.
I believe this seeking and giving forgiveness is a basic relational component designed by God for us with Him and each other.
So, next time I knee-jerk speak those 2 words, I’m sorry, I’ll be a little nicer to myself. Even if not completely necessary at the time, I’d rather be open to being sorry and the freedom that comes with it, than not.