Those who know me best know my love for movie quotes. Since Ron loves me, he’s learned to “speak movie” with me. He and I often challenge one another by quoting lines from our favorite movies just to see if the other one can respond with the next correct line or at least identify the movie.
One quote we both know all too well surfaces frequently whenever one of us realizes that the other was right about something. It comes from the exchange between Sandra Bullock’s and Tim McGraw’s characters in The Blind Side. In that scene, Tim makes a significant point that Sandra can’t deny. She drops her eyes and reluctantly replies, “You’re right.”
Since those words come from her so seldomly, he responds, “Excuse me? You’re right? How’d those words taste coming out of your mouth?” Then comes the line I love, except when I have to answer that same question from Ron. She shoots back with, “Like vinegar!”
Why is admitting we were wrong or having to say we’re sorry such a hard thing? And why is it even harder to actually mean it?
Most likely your younger you had a parent or teacher force you to apologize when you really didn’t mean it. You reluctantly spouted the words so that the two of you could go on about your business. Kids, as a rule, get over squabbles quickly. They hug and make up and go back to playing. Adults? Not so much.
Admitting when we’re wrong and sincerely apologizing can come only after we humbly recognize our mistakes. Becoming more self-aware can be a wonderful thing, but it can also be a growling, relentless bear. Who likes admitting they’re wrong? It can make us feel less than, insecure, incompetent, or worst of all, shameful (or maybe even all of the above).
Some mistakes like losing your temper, making quick cutting remarks, engaging in destructive behavior, or spreading vicious lies are easier to recognize. However, things like giving someone the silent treatment, not giving them the benefit of the doubt, or repeatedly expecting more from someone than they are able to give can sneak in and take a soft seat in our consciences. Left unchecked, those means of dealing with our own hurt can slowly, over time, become our default responses.
Rich King David knew his adulterous mistake with Bathsheba. He tried to cover his guilt with another huge mistake. After learning Bathsheba was pregnant with his child, David had her soldier husband Uriah killed. David not only sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah, he also sinned against God. He felt the inescapable guilt that sin pours over us all.
Guilt makes our stomachs churn and causes us to lose sleep trying to think of ways to hide or validate our actions and escape our shame. Yet, it’s good to remember that guilt happens when we DO something bad. It’s what actually leads us to repentance and forgiveness. Shame, on the other hand, tries to make us believe we ARE bad.
Thankfully, David’s prophet friend Nathan chose a most loving way to point out David’s sin. He told a story about a rich man with many sheep and a poor man with one little lamb he greatly loved. After a guest arrived at the rich man’s house, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it for the guest rather than choosing one from his own large flock. This story enraged David. He declared the man worthy of punishment by death. If you are familiar with this story you know Nathan’s response to David’s outrage. He calmly said, “You are that man!”
What a blessing to have friends who will find the most loving ways to point out our flaws and then stick around to help us make repairs! Those closest to us see behind our masks. They see the hurt that causes us to hurt others. Those on the fringes of our lives only see the hurt we cause. If we are serious about becoming more like Jesus, we need to give our wisest friends permission to tell us the hard things about ourselves. When they do, it’s no time to make excuses or place blame. We should listen, evaluate, and decide what WE need to change. Then, it’s wise to take some time to filter it all through God’s Word. Filter everything through God’s Word! The Spirit helps us to courageously become more self-aware.
Psalm 51 exposes David’s broken and repentant heart. Even if you’re familiar with this Psalm, I’d like you to slowly read a portion of it from The Passion Translation:
“Purify my conscience! Make this leper clean again! Wash me in your love until I am pure in heart. Satisfy me in your sweetness, and my song of joy will return. The places you have crushed within me will rejoice in your healing touch. Hide my sins from your face; erase all my guilt by your saving grace. Keep creating in me a clean heart. Fill me with pure thoughts and holy desires, ready to please you. May you never reject me! May you never take from me your sacred Spirit! Let my passion for life be restored, tasting joy in every breakthrough you bring to me. Hold me close to you with a willing spirit that obeys whatever you say. Then I can show other guilty ones how loving and merciful you are. They will find their way back home to you, knowing that you will forgive them.” (Psalm 51:7-13 TPT)
Once we realize our mistakes, it’s time to say we’re sorry to God and to those we’ve hurt – and mean it! Only then, can we begin to make changes that reveal a true change of heart. That’s when “You’re right, I’m sorry” tastes more like honey instead of vinegar.