If someone tells you that you are not sorry enough, I assume your response would be similar to mine. Your face would turn red, your fingernails would dig into your palms as you made a fist and, depending on your level of self-control, the words “how dare you judge how sorry I am” would either blast from your lips or leak around your clenched teeth. No time to think, no time to reflect, no time to discuss, just enough time to defend your assertion that you are sorry with the added qualifier, “take it or leave it.”
What if you didn’t say sorry at all?
What if someone told you that you aren’t sorry enough and you haven’t articulated anything that remotely resembles an apology. Like before, your face would turn red, your fingernails would dig into your palms and, depending on your level of self-control, the words “what do I have to be sorry about?” might blast from your lips or leak around your clenched teeth. On the other hand, if you have been married for a long time you may consider this more of a hint, a way of saying, “the couch may be your new bed if you don’t find a way to make this right!”
What if it was a quantitative statement rather than a qualitative remark?
I know this may sound like I am going all scientific, but trust me, with my level of scientific knowledge I can’t even fake science let alone write about it. What I am asking you to consider is the possibility that “you are not sorry enough” may not refer to the depth of your remorse but instead how often you are sorry.
Let’s take it a step further. What if “you are not sorry enough” was not only a commentary on the number of times you are sorry but also the number of times you do not recognize that you should be sorry. I am not calling into question your ability to spot your own errors but instead your ability to spot situations in which you should feel and express sorrow.
I am Canadian, we say sorry all the time!
It is a running joke about Canadians, we end our sentences with “Eh” and most of our sentences contain the word sorry. We are a guilty people, there is no reason and no actual offence, well other than to say we are sorry even when we are not sorry and turn every sentence into a question, Eh?
We may be a people who are always saying sorry but we, like most of the rest of the world, are not sorry enough. It is not the act of apologizing, the depth of the emotion or the sincerity of the words that I am referring to. I am talking about the lack of profound sorrow when people are hurting, in danger, grieving, starving, struggling with addiction, with mental health issues and for those who profess to follow Jesus, the Christ, a lack of profound sorrow brought on by recognizing the eternal destination of all who are lost.
I am sorry that I am not sorry enough.
I admit that I am quick to move on. I may assign blame even take some of the blame myself, but once my part is addressed and I can say I am not or no longer in the wrong, I move on. In some cases I move onto a perch high above the offending person so that I can look down on them for being wrong. In other cases I move on and ignore their plight, after all I have made sure what I have done is not a contributing factor to what they are going through. In the some rare cases I stick around to make sure that my wrongs are not only corrected but that any evidence that my wrong contributed to their issues has been countered by my adamant contention that I have done all I need to do.
What about them?
If my actions are about me, if my goal is to ensure I am not to blame, if my understanding of sorrow is to make sure I am not at fault, then I am not sorry enough. There is nothing wrong with making sure that I am not the cause because of my wrongdoing and, if I am, apologizing and making the appropriate gesture to rectify the situation. Things go off track because that is where things end. It ends because of my inability to see the problem beyond the problem, the issues that have little or nothing to do with my actions.
I’m not sure people care as much about who’s at fault as they do about who will walk with them.
A sorry is nice. A reconciliatory gesture is appreciated. Correcting what you did wrong goes a long way to addressing pain, but where are you after all this is done? Even worse, where are you when the other person’s situation has nothing to do with your actions? Where are you when everything is the result of the other person’s dumb choices? Where are you when there is no one to blame, when life just happens?
Are you sorry enough?
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36 (NIV)
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Luke 13:34 (NIV)
Jesus did no wrong, committed no sin, He was rejected and His message ignored and yet He had compassion for those who were lost, for those who did wrong and refused Him. He had nothing to apologize for and yet He was sorry.