Sorry is reputed to be the hardest word to say. Perhaps. But it’s also the most vital. Perhaps it’s taken far too long for Science to realise this.
A report in the Evening Standard this week tells us that “An American study has claimed that a simple apology can make a victim turn from thoughts of revenge to ones of forgiveness.”
Well go figure!
For those of you who appreciate ‘Science-speak’ here is the quote in full – “These results strongly suggest that conciliatory gestures facilitate forgiveness and reduce anger by modifying victims’ perceptions of their transgressors’value as relationship partners.”
Thank goodness that Science is here to tell us these things!
By way of contrast here is a quote from Psalm 86, verse 5:
“Oh Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.”
And because we have these insights into the true character and nature of God, we can expect those who call on his name to be quick to have forgiveness – saying ‘sorry’ – at the heart of their lives.
Even by modest estimates I make that well over 2000 years for Scientific thought to catch up with something that those ‘crazy-brain-washed-religious-fanatics’ have known for…well a very long time.
Reading on reveals further key differences however. Whereas Evolutionary Science would tell us that we forgive in order to minimise the ‘risk’ that others may pose; for Christians the act of forgiving is a result of actually having been forgiven themselves. Far from being a cold, calculated survival tactic, true forgiveness comes from the heart and, alongside ‘safety’ brings freedom from anger, resentment and other very negative feelings within ourselves.
The scandal of Christianity is, of course, that in the cross of Jesus Christ we see the ultimate ‘conciliatory gesture’ being made by God toward us, before we’ve even begun to say sorry to Him, or indeed accepted that we need to – for our own anger and other shortcomings.
Once we have accepted the forgiveness that God holds out to us, we will find it easier to ensure that our own relationships are full of grace, gentleness and yes, ‘conciliatory gestures.’
On a final note, on the same day, in the same newspaper, I found this quote. It’s from Boris Pasternak, writing in Doctor Zchivago, and I include it to encourage all of us who find admitting that we have got things wrong or have made mistakes difficult:
“I don’t like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless and it isn’t of much value. Life hasn’t revealed its beauty to them.”
Part of that beauty lies in knowing that your ‘sorry’ is accepted.