The Apology Shield

A few years ago I led a small group of 10 married men, that met weekly to talk about faith, family, and the meaning of life. One time, when our discussion had gotten focused on conflict at home, I asked the guys, “When was the last time you said to your spouse, “I’m sorry” ? It was 9:00am and we’d all said sorry to our spouses already that day. One guy said, grinning but totally serious, “I’ve told my wife I was sorry 8 times today, including once before I got up from bed!” These men were apologizing for everything – from interrupting in conversation, to forgetting tasks and errands, to getting mad – they all reported a feeling of being judged for having said or done something wrong, and re

Forgiveness & Reconciliation

Several years ago, a person I had been very close friends with did something extremely hurtful, and it changed our relationship forever. In the years since, I’ve wondered if he was being cruel, or just clueless, but either way, the thing that happened ended our friendship. Generally speaking, this guy is a kind and decent person, and we really had been good friends for years. You might ask why I couldn’t or wouldn’t forgive him. And that’s the thing. I have forgiven him. It took me a couple years, but in the span of a life, that’s not too long. At some point I decided to actively forgive, and while making that commitment didn’t feel like flipping a switch with immediate results, I even

Easier Said Than Done

Broadly speaking, forgiveness is held up as essential to a good life. It’s a virtue. It’s something decent people do. In practice, in real life, forgiveness is much more of a puzzle, and a much heavier lift. When a person does real harm to another, when there are dire consequences to someone’s words and actions, discerning just how to move forward with grace and healing is not a simple matter. Revenge would be simple; forgiveness… not so much. Many people say forgiving someone is an independent, unilateral decision that a wounded party makes of their own prerogative, for their own well-being. It doesn’t depend on whether the person who was in the wrong tries to make amends, or

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Davenport, Iowa



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