I recently spoke hard truth to a client of mine. He offended me by showing up fifteen minutes late to practice. No text. No call. No heads up, just late. So, as we settled into practice I listened for the rationalization I knew was sure to come. Sure enough, it didn’t take long. “I’m sorry. Lost track of time. How are you, btw?”
“Offended,” was my ccd response.
I was not angry. My focus was matter of fact. “Let me ask you a question,” I began kinda nonchalantly, “would you show up 15 minutes late for your Board meeting without so much as a word of warning?” Well, no, was his back pedaling response. “How ‘bout at home with your bride,” I continued. Not if I want to stay married, he said sounding more sheepish with each syllable. “What about with your team at work?” He paused and thought for what seemed like a moment or two. I could see the gears working as he processed my questions.
His response seared me.
“Oh my gosh, I really messed up,” he said with complete contrition. The next words pierced my heart. “Will you forgive me?” My client did not say he was sorry. He said much more. He owned his action and made himself vulnerable. He asked me to forgive him. Damn. Four disarming words – Will you forgive me. I can’t recall when I was asked to forgive another human. I can’t remember asking another human to forgive me either! Damn.
The feeling, when letting those four words in, was unmistakeable. I felt offended no more. I felt my justice thread relax and snap back into place. All I could say was ccd – “It’s already forgotten.” Think about how often you offend and simply say, Sorry? Is sorry owning your stuff or some mindless word and effortless way of moving on? As for me, I’m changing my response to my many mess ups where I do something to another I deeply regret. At 6ofreakin’3, I’ve learned another word change that makes a world of difference. I’m changing my repair efforts from “I’m sorry,” to…
Will you forgive me?
At first blush this sounds easy. It’s not. I’m sorry puts the onus on another to make it right. Will you forgive me, gives you power over me. Asking for forgiveness puts me at your mercy. Vulnerable. Damn.
Thanks for the word change, my friend. Who knew speaking truth to you would profoundly change me. God, help me tune into moments when I’m the offender, not simply when I’m (easily) offended. God, help me. Together we transform. Always together. Good.
Live hard. Love harder. Only the strong forgive easily…