"It is usually excruciatingly difficult for people to admit explicitly that they have done wrong. We excuse ourselves. We refuse to admit the truth. We shift blame. We deny the obvious. We excel at rationalizing. But the person who wrenches from himself the unpleasant truth, 'I have sinned,' has performed a great and meaningful act." --Rabbi Shraga Simmons
I have been thinking a lot about apologies in the past twenty-four hours. About taking responsibility for your actions and admitting what you have done wrong. I do not think that this is necessary in order to forgive another person. I believe it is possible to forgive someone when they have not apologized or made amends if you have taken steps to make a boundary and take care of yourself in relationship to this person. However, an admission of wrongdoing and an apology can go a long way towards self-forgiveness.
Yesterday morning was our first "real" morning of summer. We did not have anything planned, we did not have any house guests, it was just me and the boys hanging out on a summer day. Eventually of course, the fighting began.
After separating the two of them I had a talk with each of them individually and it came out that my older son was upset about something my younger son had done the day before and was exacting his revenge. When I talked to my younger son he spoke first about what his brother was doing to him, but eventually he calmed down and said, "I know I messed up and I'm sorry, but I can't do anything about it now."
"But you CAN," I responded. And I went on to explain how much courage it takes to admit that you were wrong and to apologize for it and how I thought this might go a long way towards making peace with his older brother. He said he would think about it.
I don't know if he said anything to my older son or not, but I do know that in the moment he admitted his guilt to me, his energy shifted. He was already lighter and less emotional. He knew what he did was wrong and admitting it was ultimately very freeing.
Admitting you did something wrong is so hard to do and in the moment it often feels like it will bring more pain, judgement and recrimination, but speaking the words "I made a mistake and I am sorry," can be our ticket to freedom and self-forgiveness.
What can you admit - to yourself or to another - that would free you today?