Chaplaincy | The power of a real apology

Chaplaincy | The power of a real apology

There’s an Elton John song that goes by the title, ‘Sorry seems to be the hardest word’.

It’s a song about a relationship that is falling apart due to a lack of communication and at least one person’s inability to apologise.

The song was released back in 1976, but its sentiment is timeless. Fast forward 46 years to our present moment, and guess what? It’s still hard to say sorry.

It’s why so often we go around giving each other fake apologies. Things that sound like we’re saying sorry, when really we’re not.

“Sorry if I hurt your feelings.”

“Sorry, but I’m just being honest.”

“Sorry you’re finding this so difficult.”

“Sorry if”, “sorry but”, and “sorry you” aren’t real apologies. They might make use of the word “sorry”, but in reality, they are subtle ways to avoid taking responsibility by shifting the blame onto someone else.

By contrast, real apologies involve admitting fault.

“I was wrong”.

“It’s my mistake.”

“I’m the one to blame”.

This is what makes apologising so hard. It can be embarrassing, humiliating, terrifying to make yourself vulnerable like this, to put yourself entirely at the mercy of another person, giving them the power to either accept or reject you.

And yet, saying sorry can also be profoundly liberating. When said from a place of genuine sorrow and remorse, it can be a game changer in a relationship, and open the door to healing, restoration and forgiveness.

At Trinity, we’ve just started a new Chapel series on the topic of ‘Mending relationships’ – the first talk of which is all about saying sorry.

In this talk, we explore a song that could well have been the counter to Elton John’s hit single, if not for the fact that it was written a few millennia prior.

Psalm 32 is a song which captures the Ancient Israelite King David’s experience of saying sorry. The song reminds us of the difference a heartfelt apology can make, whilst pointing us to the awesome reassurance that when it comes to God, our apologies are always met with mercy and forgiveness.

In this vein, Psalm 32 is a song that not only encourages us to make genuine and heartfelt apologies; it also gives us the power to do so.

Could Psalm 32 be the song you or someone you know needs to hear, today?

Click below to view a recording of the talk.


Nathan Lee | Assistant Chaplain

Share this post