The house is bathed in angry voices as immediately-required forms for school have disappeared. The clock ticks and bell time comes fast. Angry voices find volume and speed and tears add to the disarray.
Threats of missing out. Emotions scattering like whirlwind debris jarring off walls.
School run done in muted tones of anger and frustration.
Back in the silent house forms are located. I am to blame.
Forms are returned to school. Fault is owned.
In the afternoon I choose not to enter into elaborate explanations and excuses about my behaviour. I make eye contact, I own the fact that my tone and my words were unacceptable, I own the fault of missing forms and ask forgiveness.
I add it is not okay for me to speak with heated angry words to you.
In return I receive love. I am hugged and told I am loved.
I am given love.
And the love is so much sweeter because I gave no excuses for my behaviour. I didn’t cheapen the grace by manipulating the giver into thinking I deserved it.
And it is oh.so.tempting to temper the apology with a ‘this is why I was such a stinker’ tag line. Maybe I was tired, maybe I had lost something else that morning, maybe I had a million things I had to do, maybe I am loving most of the time…. but at that moment I was badly behaved towards someone I loved and acknowledging that, in and of itself, is what matters.
Being unkind, harsh, unduly angry and hurtful is a slight on me. It shines light on the state of my character.
Out of the heart the mouth speaks. Can a well produce fresh and polluted water?
I think we fear apologising without a reasonable excuse. It gives another person proof that we are in fact truly broken, truly sinful, truly unable to redeem ourselves. It takes us down a peg, or several. It elevates them.
It is uncomfortable to stand on lower ground.
We tell ourselves excuse helps them to understand… but when we are on the receiving end of such an apology it makes our forgiveness about them and not about us.
I don’t deserve forgiveness because I am nice 99% of the time. Forgiveness is a lavish gift that is bestowed out of the beauty and grace of another. Giving excuses and reasons why it should be handed out cheapens the gift.
Imagine turning up at a birthday and when you are handed a gift saying of course you spent money on me because I am so kind, and generous, and you are so lucky to have me as a friend. We do not dare to cheapen the generosity of another in such a crass way.
Excusing our hurtfulness to others probably does not help them understand us better, it justifies our behaviour and cheapens their forgiveness.
There are times when reasons might be needed. But, I know in my heart, when I offer reasons it’s about me trying to prove to myself and them I am really not as bad as I seem. Truth is, I am as bad as I seem.
I am probably worse.
We are all the recipients of unimaginable grace. Radical forgiveness. Oh so expensive, your life for mine, forgiveness. Freely given. Let us never delude ourselves that we somehow deserve it, that our sins are mostly excusable.
My shortcomings nailed my saviour to the cross. Our shortcomings have broken the world and wounded many people God loves. These are no trifles to be discounted.
May we never stray so far as to think we had a part in gaining the inheritance we are adopted into. Our adoption was not cheap, it was not easy, it was not won without blood and heartbreak.
Our forgiveness is the most lavish, life-changing, awe-inspiring thing we could ever receive. So let us never deceive ourselves and cheapen its value by telling ourselves a story about how good were really are.
God I am sorry, I am broken, I am in need of every-day, moment by moment forgiveness. Your grace to me is radical, it is undeserved and I will never earn it. Give me grace to love and forgive others like you so freely do to me.
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3v22-24