There are so many times in life we utter the words, "I'm sorry." We bump into someone as we're rushing out of the grocery store and say sorry as we hurry on our way, barely looking back; we forget to send in our kids' permission slips/snack-drink money/party treat for school and offer our apologies; we step on the dog's 6 months-post-surgery leg and even apologize to her. (Poor puppy. Baaaad Forty.)But you get the gist. We toss out those words probably on a daily basis and most likely we genuinely do mean them, but we often say them because it's just what you do; it's good social etiquette. When you say "I'm sorry" though, especially for larger, more significant wrong-doings, meaning those words is equally as important as uttering them.
I remember being a little kid and for whatever stupid, stupid reason, I made fun of one of my friends. Maybe I was trying to be funny, maybe I thought it was cool - I don't know. I just specifically remember feeling like a horrible person for being so mean to someone who didn't even deserve it. My little eight or nine year old self knew how wrong I was because I felt so damn awful. So I marched up to her, a little nervous to admit what a jerk I had been, and told her I was sorry. Thankfully, she accepted it. I learned that when you do something wrong, (and recognize it), you can be forgiven and given another chance. I'm going to guess and say that it was probably from then on that I never feared apologizing to anyone again whenever I was wrong. To this day, I still don't. And why should anyone, really? Smaller sorries, larger sorries - meaning them is what really matters. Meaning them and learning never to make the same mistake again that caused the need for apology in the first place. While I think small accidents or wrong-doings deserve an apology suited for the "crime,' I also believe it's the larger, more significant things where the sincerity behind the words "I'm sorry" need to carry more weight.
It's always been my belief that when you hurt or offend someone and you are aware of it, apologize. It doesn't make you weak or look foolish; it does just the opposite: it makes you stronger for recognizing that you're fallible and for letting others know that you are, too. Being wrong sometimes, (or even a lot of times), is part of being human. We'd have nothing to learn from if we never made mistakes, and quite frankly, if we were always right and perfect and smiling and happy, I think we'd be boring, too.
There's probably not a day that passes that I don't utter one of the smaller, "I'm sorries" to someone at work or one of my kiddies. Those are just part of daily living and part of respecting other people. But recently, I made an error in judgment that, at the time, I didn't think was wrong at all. But because of the other (offended) person's response (or lack thereof) to what I had said, it made me step back and think, What did I say that was so bad? Why would she be so upset?. Or maybe it was the idea behind my words. I went over what was said - at least 15 times - in my head. I knew the original point I'd been trying to make to her, but I decided from her reaction that maybe I went about it wrong. Or maybe it was just one of those things that should have never been mentioned to her at all as it wasn't even a big deal (in hindsight, anyway). I asked my friend to please tell me why and how I'd upset her, what was my mistake. I wanted to know her side so I could understand where I went wrong. But she didn't want to talk to me except for a few pointed words. I apologized anyway but still no response.
This wasn't an "I'm sorry" tossed-over-your-shoulder-in-the-supermarket type thing. I offended/irritated/hurt someone with my words which I never, ever meant to be hurtful. I was upset and hurt about something and voiced it but after all was said and done, I realized that maybe not every little thing has to be brought up front and center for discussion or analyzing. Maybe I read into something and made more of it than it was. Maybe I need to learn to censor my thoughts and feelings sometimes because everyone doesn't have to know them at all times. Maybe I was just...stupid.
I made a mistake and judging by the deafening silence that followed, an even bigger one than I realized. But I am still sorry even if I wasn't forgiven.
But I guess sometimes maybe being unforgiven has to teach us a lesson, too.