Broken Dishes

4 06 2014

I found this sad and interesting question while having breakfast with social media, this morning:

I’m not sure of the deepest way to apologize. Any hints? I try to… but I can’t ‘unbreak’ the plate.

We’ve all done it – said or done something that has hurt someone.  Almost immediately, we want to take it back, but we can’t. This hurts and, because we are the heroes of our own novels, this hurts us; so what we want most is to have the other person understand:

We didn’t mean to do it. We’re sorry.

Well, we DID do it, and there are consequences.


Granted, a self-inflicted wound is as painful as any other; however, it is only our fault. We caused the pain – theirs and ours. The responsibility for two injuries lies with us.

The right thing to do – when we’ve already done the wrong thing – is to apologize without conditions; to respect the pain, mistrust, or even contempt we’ve created; and to accept that it is entirely and rightly up to the person we hurt to decide whether or not to forgive us.

A genuine apology is not a veiled request for absolution.  It is a real effort to mitigate the pain we have caused another to suffer.

What do we get from apologizing, even if – especially if – it is rejected?

We can only know that we have sincerely taken responsibility for our bad act; that we have, in fact, done all we can do. We can certainly hope for forgiveness, not just for us, but because it will signal some healing for the person we’ve wronged; but it is not our privilege to expect it.

I am going to work harder every day to respect that others are the heroes of their own mighty novels. We are lucky to have supporting roles; we should not forget that. It is an honor, so let’s do mind the china, when we’re fortunate enough to be invited to tea.




2 responses

5 06 2014

always so in-sight-full. Hopefully serving with my best china….

5 06 2014

Erica, you always do.

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