Our kids are really good at saying, “I’m sorry” and I’m happy about that but often, their apologies are followed with the same behavior. The pattern is: behavior, “I’m sorry”, behavior – repeat. Regardless of how many times I’ve said, “An apology is the first step. Changing your behavior (or at least trying to) is how you fulfill an apology” or “actions speak louder than words”, they just don’t seem to grasp as well as I’d like for them to.
Recently, I announced that we were doing a Tuesday Night Teaching. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you will know that I’ve done several of these throughout the past year. It went something like this:
“Kids, do you know how I always tell you that an apology is good but after you apologize, you need to work on changing whatever it is that you had to apologize for?” (They all agreed.)
“I’m going to show you what that means. Here is your apology.” I wrote the word ‘sorry’ on a piece of paper and put it in a cup of water. I then wrote the word ‘sorry’ and put it in a cup of peroxide.
After a few seconds or so, I pulled out the note in the water and rubbed it gently with a towel. The word ‘sorry’ stayed there. I then pulled out the note in the peroxide and rubbed it gently with a towel. The word ‘sorry’ faded.
“Do you see that?” They all closely looked it over. Their eyes checking out every part. “The apology in plain water stayed put. It didn’t change. It’s because there are not any active ingredients in plain water. The apology in peroxide faded. It’s because there are active ingredients in peroxide.
Apologies take action. If you say you’re sorry but you don’t take any action to correct it, the apology just sticks around. Nothing more…and the reason you had to apologize may also stick around.
If you take action and change your behavior, the apology fades but what takes its place is a clean slate. If you keep hurting a friend over and over again but not changing your behavior, eventually that friend will leave and all that will be left is the memory of your apology. But if you hurt a friend, say you’re sorry, and then change your behavior to show that, chances are you will still be friends. Apologies require action.”
After this, I read 1 John 4:7:
“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.”
I ended the lesson by talking about how we are children of God and we are to love others. Apologizing is a form of showing love but changing our behavior or working on the things we do that hurt others is an essential part of loving people.
Friends, actions do speak louder than words. Words can hurt and they can also help, but just as love is a verb, so is apologizing.
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