I taught my children many new words, but they taught me how to say “I’m sorry.” I grew up in a family that didn’t apologize very often. We tended to move on as though a hurtful word or action didn’t happen. That didn't make us a bad family, but we were missing a good habit. When I became a father, I saw how life-giving an honest confession can be. Some days, I would come home from work—yes, work at the church--frustrated by someone or something and would let that frustration slip out in dealing with the daily challenges of being a family. When I saw how a little face can turn sad because dad overreacted to a minor offense, I saw how important confessing my mistake was. Children can’t yet understand that adults bring emotions home from work. They believe they get what they deserve. So, I knew I had to take that burden off of them. My children’s bedsides were the places I learned to say, “Dad came home tired and angry about something that happened at work and took that out on you. You didn’t deserve that. I was wrong. I hope you will forgive me.”
Why is “I’m sorry” so hard to say? We don’t like to take responsibility for our feelings, our words, and our actions. We don’t want to admit we’ve made a mistake, especially one that’s hurt someone else. We don’t like to make ourselves vulnerable by asking for forgiveness the other person might not be ready to give. This is tough work, but the Bible says it’s worth it. James writes,
(James 5:16) Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Confession brings healing. This passage is primarily about praying for physical healing, but when we confess our mistakes to each other, we also bring healing to our souls and our relationships. Swallow your pride, be honest about your mistakes, and say “I’m sorry.”