Still learning: Hogwash

Do you remember the 70’s movie, “Love Story”?

At one point in the tumultuous story, Ali McGraw (the leading lady) says, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” And then later, AFTER SHE DIES, Ryan O’Neal (the grieving leading man) repeats the statement. And with that, the movie ends.

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

This, my dear friends, is the definition of HOGWASH. The lot of it. COMPLETE HOGWASH.

Why am I bringing this up now?

Because I recently heard someone say, “If you feel like you have to apologize to someone, then you aren’t really close.”  

Interestingly enough, Ryan O’Neal made another movie in 1972 called “What’s Up Doc” witih Barbara Streisand. When Barbara says, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry“, O’Neal replies, “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.”

Don’t get me wrong, I think you can interpret the “never having to say you’re sorry” bit as something worthwhile. Maybe it means you treat another person with as much respect and love as possible and therefore never have anything that needs to be apologized for.

Yeah. Like anyone can live up to that hype!

We all do things that end up hurting others. Our words and actions leave gaping holes in our relationships. Admitting our faults and making amends (yes, that means apologizing!) helps in the healing process and draws us closer.

But what if we never try to bridge those gaps – what happens?

We end up with relationships separated by canyons.

There will be times when words aren’t necessary. But more often than not, admitting we’ve hurt someone and trying to make things better is a good thing.

For me, though, claiming the “if you love me, I shouldn’t have to apologize” rule is a selfish rule at best. And at the worst, it is self destructive.

So what do you think of that old movie line? Truth? Or Hogwash?

 

*for further reading and opinions, check out these posts by other bloggers:

http://dawnkinzer.blogspot.com/2010/02/love-means-never-having-to-say-youre.html

http://mainstreetmom.com/marr/say_sorry.htm (EXCELLENT ARTICLE!)

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18 thoughts on “Still learning: Hogwash

  1. I think it’s hogwash. Though I agree that true love means forgivness as God forgives us, I do not think it is without confession or asking forgivness…”I’m sorry” are two very important words for ANY relationship and should never be under valued.

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    1. confession – that’s a hard one, isn’t it? When we have to verbalize our faults and wrongdoings. OUCH. I know it’s not easy for me. Not easy at all. And I’m not always gracious about it, either. That is something I need to work on in a big way!

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  2. I think it depends on where you put the emphasis. I would put the emphasis on the word “having”. Having, as in, required. You see, in my family while growing up, it was drilled into us that, even thought my parents may not always agree with everything I chose to do, there was NOTHING that would make them not love me. So, by definition, I realized that, wheather I said I was sorry for something or not, the love would still be there. I think people misinterpret that saying as an excuse for not apologizing. However, take this scenario: Let’s say someone very close to me, my child, completely loses it and get’s VERY angry about something and storms off to their room to think about it. And, let’s further suppose that the right conclusion is reached that they were in the wrong. So, they already have the embarrasment of blowing up in the first place; why force them to go through the humiliation of having to say what everyone involved already knows anyway? If she were to simply walk back in the room in the proper manner and truly ACT as though she were sorry; I think we’d both get the point. They could ratchet it up a notch and say something like, “Man, I can’t believe I acted that way…” Now, to me that REALLY is all that needs to be said. I simply do not see the point of taking, or forcing, the next step of, “I’m sorry for the way I acted.” I mean, duh, if you’ve stated that “you can’t believe the way you acted.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the implied apology. At that point, to me anyway, if you STILL make them apologize, you are just emphasizig your dominance over them. As a parent, you MIGHT have that right, but why use it? (another discussion…) However, as a spouse or a friend or a co-worker, you are NOT in a position of authority. So, why not show some GRACE on your part and simply understand and go with the IMPLIED apology?!

    Gee, got me up on a soapbox there; but it is actually something I feel strongly about. It falls into the same lines of making a child go get their own switch to be spanked with; there is little more in the world more humiliating….

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    1. Lot’s of stuff to talk about here, but one of the big things for me is this: I think humiliation and humility are two different things. Apologizing to someone should be an act of humility…not humiliation. If you feel humiliated, then the focus is still on self, rather than the focus being on the relationship as a whole and bridging the gap.

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  3. I think a true “i’m sorry” is an acknowledgment of responsibility and that it is key in relationships. I wouldn’ presume that I am forgiven unless I have asked for forgiveness. Goes into the “hogwash” bin! Carol

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    1. acknowledgment of responsiblity is key in relationships — Wow. That’s good stuff, Carol! Asking for forgiveness is hard. Receiving it is hard, too. And sometimes, even giving it is hard. But all those require responsibility on our parts. We have to take responsiblity for our actions and reactions.

      Really good stuff. Thank you!

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  4. I agree completely that the line is hogwash. So much so, that the opposite is true. We have to take responsibility for our sour moods, our hurtful words. Owning them and not blaming others for how we treat them, shows respect and love. Humbling ourselves to say we are sorry is an unselfish act of love.

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    1. eeek! humbling ourselves is hard. But you’re right, it’s an unselfish act of love. Those receiving the apology then have the job of being gracious in the reception of the apology. It’s hard either way – but very possible!

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  5. God’s Word says in Pro.v. 20:11, “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.” (ESV) I believe the action of accepting fault and responsibility for my actions and reactions is elemental to any good relationship.

    I also believe that apologizing should be an act of humility, not humiliation, and that, as parents, we have the responsibility to help our children learn humility. Humiliation “provokes our children to wrath,” as the KJV puts it. Humility elevates them to a higher plane in this life and in God’s economy.

    Love DOES mean saying I’m sorry. Even, sometimes, when I’m not the one at fault. Deferring to others by apologizing for whatever misunderstanding or response was offensive is an act of godly maturity, IMHO.

    Thanks for the subject matter, Donna. Putting on the thinking cap.

    Jean

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  6. Donna,
    I knew a pastor once who said, “You have to accept people where they are.” Maybe that applies here too. After causing a big scene, a child may return and give a warm hug instead of an apology of words. Personally, I think I should be mature enough to use my words, but I’m sure there are many times I “owed” an apology but never gave one. I hope someone’s not still holding a grudge.

    Deep stuff!
    Linda

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  7. Jean – good stuff, my friend. Thank you for the deep thoughts and verses. Makes me think!

    Linda – hugs are good, too. 🙂 I’m sure we’ve all had times where an apology was needed…yet we didn’t give one. Then there are those times where we deserved an apology, yet didn’t get one. Both instances require grace.

    I do think, though, that as adults, we need to grow in knowledge and understanding of our relationships with others. When our children see us, as adults, making amends and apologizing, then they learn from our example. I think it stands to reason that if they do NOT see us making amends, then they will have a harder time doing it as they grow.

    I know I need grace on both sides of the fence (or offense, as the case may be!) 🙂

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  8. Great discussion. Donna, I love your point about humbling yourself instead of focusing on yourself in humiliation. You put that beautifully.

    I think apologies also help the one doing the apologizing. God wants us to confess our sins, not because He needs us to tattle on ourselves, but because we need to admit that what we did was unacceptable. It makes it tougher for us to justify acting the same way when we are tempted the next time. We’ll continue to sin this side of Heaven, but sanctification (becoming more like Jesus) is more of a life-long journey than a magic trick.

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  9. What is forgiveness? Accepting and agreeing to live with the consequences of another’s sin in freedom. We will live with the consequences regardless. Our relationship with God is inextricably entwined with our relationship with other people. His word says if we don’t forgive we will not be forgiven. What is also true is that He has forgiven me more than I will ever need to forgive another. And I choose to forgive ahead of time. Fore give. I choose not to be offended. I have to call a spade a spade, sin is sin. Then I sometimes have to repent of how I responded when someone else hurt me in the past by trying to find life outside of God. Proverbs calls pride – self confident fool. The opposite of humility is one who walks independently of God. Humility is acknowledging our utter dependence upon Christ.
    Children learn by our example. What you don’t own, you don’t get free of. Confession is not vague. It is agreeing with God. I don’t accept from them a mere “I’m sorry” but I lead them to “I’m sorry for —-“. Confession is not really “I’m sorry” alone, it is “I did it”. So, love is saying “I did it” when I did. Taking responsibility is a sign of maturity. Period. I can’t forget that I will give an account to the Lord. Our culture has an over emphasis on Rights over Responsibilities. For example: We don’t have an abortion problem, but rather a sexual irresponsibility problem.
    Also, if you are right, you don’t need a defense. If you are wrong, you don’t have one. This is still true.

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  10. Great points, everyone. This has been an area of great struggle for me – just ask my husband. And yet our Lord is faithful and has continued to move me to improvement over the years. All the glory goes to Him, as I stand here in complete self-identification with those “stiff-necked Israelites.”

    On the counter side of apologies lies forgiveness. I remember attending a conference and listening to a couple (it may have been the Smalleys) a number of years ago. She shared a story about some fight they’d had and her ensuing conviction to forgive her husband, whether or not he ever apologized. Maybe that was the only time she had to do that – they seemed to have a wonderful marriage and so I imagine apologies were their norm. But I am grateful for the example that served to me in memory. All too often, unfortunately, we must make a decision to forgive in the absence of sufficient, or sometimes any apology. Yet freedom is found in doing so, and motivation to seek the forgiveness of others when we are the wrong-doers.

    Choices and opportunities present themselves every day.

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  11. Susan – You said, “If you are right, you don’t need a defense. If you are wrong, you don’t have one.” That stings my conscience just as much today as it did the first time you shared it with me. I’m still chewing on it! Good stuff!

    Shyla – I know what you mean. It’s hard to admit when we’re wrong. It’s hard to forgive. None of it is easy.

    I think, though, the more we do it, the less it feels like punishment…and the more it feels like freedom. 🙂

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