When I accidentally bump into someone, I apologize. When I am unintentionally rude to someone, I say I’m sorry. There are many reasons we need to apologize to those around us, and these are mostly minor. Then there are times an apology is necessary, but maybe not enough.
When a wrong is done and an apology follows, does that make the wrong nil and void? Can the words “I’m sorry” fix everything? It seems the burden of correcting bad behavior is placed on these words, and they are an essential start to righting wrongs. Some expect these words to make everything okay. While a sincere apology can go a long way in making things better and maybe can even fix some things, many wrongs require more than just an apology.
It’s kind of like making a dent or punching a hole in a piece of shiny foil. Once the mar is there, the foil will never be the same. Or like bending a piece of wire. You can straighten it, but there will always be that little crooked spot. For example, when a person is betrayed, trust is lost, and lost trust is hard to rebuild. When a wrong is done, perceptions change. I may still be friends with someone who hurts me, but I will see that person differently than I did before. I start to guard myself—often unconsciously— against being hurt again.
When life is affected by a serious wrong, many times that life is altered, sometimes permanently. When that wire is bent, in that one spot it forever goes in a little different direction even when it is straightened. It takes on a new shape, either a little bit or entirely, depending on how much it is bent or how much it is straightened. I have seen a child’s life altered by a selfish parent who refuses to properly care for the little one with proper food and clothing. Or maybe a parent, teacher or other adult belittles a child, causing the child to have a warped perception of itself. The wire will be a different shape than it started out.
Sometimes when a wire is bent and straightened again and again, it breaks. A spouse who is abusive will eventually break the abused spouse if the debasement continues. Feelings of unworthiness often become embedded in a person who has suffered abuse. That is life altering. Continual betrayal eventually breaks trust so that it cannot be rebuilt. Infidelity will one day kill the love that once burned in the heart of a person. That, also, is life altering. These shape-bending situations can be straightened to an extent, but the wire is never the same. Rough spots remain even when healing takes place, just like scars remain after wounds have healed.
We need to be careful of our actions lest we cause someone's life to be forever marred so that an apology isn't enough. We also must realize that even with scars from previous wounds, we are just as valuable as we were before we were hurt. We all have those spots that we can't get completely straightened, but those spots can make us more emphatic to others. And that can make us attractive to others and able to help make the wire straight again.
The strength of the wire determines how much bending it can take before it breaks. Oh, sorry—that is another post!