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Apologies and Forgiveness Part 3 of 3

The Five Languages of Apology Relationship (romantic, friendship, family) can be repaired or destroyed by an apology, or should I say, the lack of an apology or a poor apology.  Ever been there, where all you want is a decent apology?  Then you know what I mean. In continuation of Apologies and Forgiveness Parts 1 and 2, I want to briefly summarize The Five Languages of Apology in hopes of helping you maintain meaningful relationships.  Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas identified the five languages as: expressing regret, accept responsibility, make restitution, genuinely repent, and request forgiveness. Sometimes an expression of regret is all that is needed.  True regret is not minimizing, making excuses, or trying to escape blame.  It is taking responsibility for how you have hurt another and acknowledging it.  For example, “I am sorry.” Accepting responsibility in which you admit a wrong is different than just an expression of regret.  Admitting a wrong can be difficult for some people because they view it as a sign of weakness.  It is inevitable; you are going to hurt someone at some time.  Hurts come, but so can healing with a meaningful apology. Admitting a wrong can go a long way for the person who needs to hear you say, “I am sorry.  I was wrong...” If my son broke the neighbor’s window, I would not only expect him to express regret, I would expect him to accept responsibility by admitting his wrong, and then he would be expected to make restitution.  Making restitution can take on different forms, it may mean paying for the damage, it could be doing some lawn work, or any number of things.  In relationships, Chapman and Thomas recommend doing something that shows you love the person you hurt.  What better way to show you love the person, than using that person’s love language (Words of  affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, and Receiving Gifts) to make restitution.  When restitution is needed, “I am sorry” or “I was wrong” will not be enough. There are times when genuine repentance is needed for the other individual to feel your apology is genuine.  Repentance is not crying a lot and saying, “I’m sorry.”  Repentance means to turn away from something and changing. Demonstrating repentance will mean having a plan for change that the injured individual is aware of.  A failure to plan is a plan to fail. In other relationships, a request for forgiveness is needed.  The injured person feels the apology is genuine when you can ask for forgiveness.  That request shows you recognize your wrong and you are willing to be vulnerable by asking for orgiveness.  Simply asking, “Will you forgive me” goes a long way in healing a hurt.  It is important to note asking is not the same as demanding. People are different and situations of injury are different.  When you are genuinely sorry, apologize in a way that is meaningful for the injured party.


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