Apology Accepted

Last week I walked by a small group of moms and their kids while en route to the train.  One of the little kids nearly bumped into my and his mother prompted him to apologize.  “It’s okay.”

As I walked away past them I thought about all the times we say that half-heartedly. Our automatic response to an apology is to tell the other person that it’s okay.  Their faux pas can be fixed with an short, possibly in-sincere apology.  But sometimes it’s not okay.  (And as a side note I feel it needs to be said that this is in no way me hating on kids, I love kids, and this idea has been pointed out to be in multiple contexts, it just happens to be a kid who brought it up most recently.)

When relationships are broken and apologies have to be made a simple “It’s okay” isn’t going to heal the hurt that has been caused.  It’s not okay.  But we can accept the apology and figure out where to go from there.  “It’s okay” indirectly encourages the behavior to continue, and when something is truely inappropriate then it can be harmful not only to the person saying that it’s okay, but also to everyone else that the apologize-er interacts with.

I think too often today we are willing to break ties with a person because they’ve wronged us for whatever reason.  In this we don’t learn from our mistakes.  We never figure out how to re-build relationships and forgive.  Forgiveness is where the whole journey really begins because it is through forgiveness that we can learn; through forgiveness that we can grow as people.

Next time someone apologizes to you, instead of saying “It’s okay”, I challenge you to accept their apology.  The next time you apologize to someone don’t accept “It’s okay” as a response.


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