I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
October 4, 2011
Right around the time I turned thirty, I learned to apologize.
I learned to apologize even for things that weren’t entirely my fault. I learned to apologize knowing full well that the other person probably wouldn’t return the favor for his or her part in the mess. I learned to apologize even though it was generally embarrassing, and it wounded my pride, and in some cases, I wasn’t even sure of what I was apologizing for– I just knew the person had an issue with me and apologizing was probably a good way to start resolving the problem.
I learned to apologize and my life radically changed. Because I quickly discovered that in a world where we’re all taught to vehemently defend our words and actions and to never, ever admit that we may have been mistaken, an apology goes a surprisingly long way when it comes to righting a wrong and mending a relationship.
Learning to apologize was the best lesson I’ve learned in the last decade. I’m now able to do it freely and with very little hesitation. I mean, let’s be honest: I make a lot of mistakes. I may as well own up to them.
But while many of my relationships were definitely salvaged or enhanced by my willingness to apologize, I’ve realized over time that others were perhaps made worse by it. Some people in my life have begun to count on the fact that I will inevitably be the one to say I’m sorry– whether it’s my fault or not. I know you know what I’m talking about. This dilemma is widespread, and probably as old as humankind. Those who are more prone to conflict and turmoil tend to push those who will do anything to keep the peace just as far as they’ll let themselves be pushed.
In my life, obviously, this has led to problems. I want to do the right thing. I want all of my relationships to be peaceful ones.
But I don’t want to be a doormat.
And now we come to the takeaway, and let me tell you, this one is HUGE– I don’t care if you’re Christian, Jewish, Mormon, Hindu or atheist. Think of this as wisdom, plain and simple, because I believe that every one of us could use it.
In the Session 5 video of Beth Moore’s Living Beyond Yourself Bible study (which some Suburban Turmoil readers are doing online with me right now), she talked about a time when she was having trouble with a relationship much like the one I’ve described. She went to a counselor to try and figure out what to do and her counselor told her this: Stop trying to be a peacekeeper and focus instead on being a peacemaker.
Let that one sink in.
Because there is a HUGE difference between peacekeepers and peacemakers.
When I heard these words, just like that, I had a solution to some of my most troubling relationship problems. I had been attempting to keep the peace (often fueling it with my apologies), and I had ended up feeling anything but peaceful. Instead, I felt used.
But when I begin to focus instead on what it would take to truly make peace in these relationships, everything changes. Because the truth is that in some cases, there are problematic behaviors on both sides that need to be addressed and modified– ignoring them or covering them over with apologies simply doesn’t work. And while sitting down and addressing those problems means some definite boat rocking, if done lovingly, and with the intention of making peace…
Maybe that boat rocking isn’t such a bad thing.
While this advice isn’t limited to Christians, there is a Biblical standard for it. Jesus said in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
Not “Blessed are those who are the first to apologize….”
Not “Blessed are the doormats…”
Blessed are the peacemakers.
Have you learned how to truly make peace in your relationships, or are you still simply keeping it?
*We’re in the fifth week of Beth Moore’s “Living Beyond Yourself” online study, but you can join at any time and go at your own pace. For more information on how to do that, go here.
*And if you’d like to join my Facebook group for women doing the study right now, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add you to the group!
Image via Ion Bogdan-Dimitrescu/Flickr