Retrieving the foot from our mouths—an idiom for having said something inappropriate—we clamber quickly for a way to redeem ourselves. How could we have said something so insensitive? But we all make the same mistakes from time to time. The best thing about such a propensity toward foot-in-mouth disease is we get plenty of opportunities to practice deploying meaningful and sincere apologies.
Perhaps the greatest thing about most relationships, and certainly with securely attached people, is there is always room for a second chance.
Indeed, a well executed recovery actually builds trust and respect: the pillars of relational intimacy.
There’s this Thing About Relationships!
Relationships can make us naturally anxious. Whether it is the relationship dynamic or how we feel about ourselves in the moment, or other reasons, like perhaps their mood, matters little in the overall analysis of things.
Much of our relational time requires of us effort and energy, as few relationships are naturally joyful. When we consider the difficulties we have relating with others at times, we can understand the difficulties others have relating with us.
We can have empathy for ourselves and others in this way.
Life is tough, and especially so in making all our relationships work. We can understand why we get into conflict, because agreement relies on so many variables. Rarely do all the variables line up at the same time. We will have conflict, just as we will upset people, but hopefully it’s never intentional.
When we have upset people, whether we understand why or not, we have the opportunity to redeem the relationship. We could go further and say we have a responsibility to do that. But it is better to see it as an opportunity—something we want to do.
Reconcile With Your Brother or Sister
Jesus speaks on anger in the Sermon on the Mount, calling us to reconcile with our brother or sister who has something against us (Matthew 5:23-24). We are to do this before we do the next thing. It is to be our first priority.
The great thing about reconciliation is the peace that comes from honouring God’s righteousness. This peace comes three ways—for the other person/party, for us, and for the relationship. At least when the attempt to reconcile, we can assure our own peace.
Honouring God’s righteousness in this way is having the courageous humility to own responsibility for the mistakes we have made. God asks no more of us. As we do this we advance the likelihood of forgiveness, for redemption is a relational concept.
We can thank God for second chances to redeem ourselves in relationships. Finding our way back, which often enhances trust and respect, is a great encouragement to all parties concerned. It may never be too late to make amends. Make the attempt.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.