Why is receiving an apology so satisfying, so diffusing, so necessary?
It’s like an admission that we are human, and fallible, and we screw up sometimes. How can we fault a person that genuinely admits that? After all, we know that we screw up sometimes ourselves. We know, more than anyone, how fallible and human we are. So putting out “screw up karma” is in our best interests at some level.
There’s something that identifies with the shame, the smallness, and the indignity that a person must take on to apologize. That’s why it’s so hard to do. But, when we have been wronged, somehow we are not satisfied until we can ascertain that the other person feels that shame. It’s a bit twisted when you think about it that way—but since the Gospel centers around forgiveness, I guess any fault I may find with it has to do with my own understanding. To err is human, to forgive divine.
But, when no apology is offered for a wrong, it eats at you like a worm inside. The hurt. The anger. The sense of injustice. It gnaws at you, getting bigger and bigger. And then, you have to do one of the hardest things—forgive anyway. Forgiveness with no apology is an inner healing thing—at least when it goes that deep. They say people forgive their rapists, or their abusive parents, or kidnappers this way.
I’ve never had any of those things, so in comparison the one-sided forgiveness I’ve had to give is very small. They say it’s for you. So, that it doesn’t eat at you anymore. So that you don’t become a bitter, dried up rotting fruit inside, with maggots swarming about your soul. I don’t want to be a dried up, rotting fruit. But, I don’t understand forgiving with no apology. It’s like saying, “It’s okay that you treated me this way.” But it’s not. Maybe I don’t know the difference between forgiving and forgetting. Can you truly forgive and hold on to the wisdom gained by the offense?
What’s brought this up, is a very small example, but it’s had me pretty upset today. All this week, I had been considering a very expensive purchase. It had a long-term commitment with it, and I spent a good deal of time carefully considering the deal. In the end, I decided to walk away from the table. The merchant, presumably vindictive, had my checking account, and decided to charge me without my knowledge or consent. It was a trumped up charge that I never understood, and they didn’t feel the need to explain. It was mainly just a $300 fee for wasting their time. I spent the rest of the day causing havoc, sending e-mails and voicemails to everyone but Santa Claus trying to get my money back.
Finally, I was told I would be sent a refund check for the full amount. I should be happy. But I’m not. I’m still mad. Very mad. I’ve been trying to figure out why. I think it’s because the entire ordeal is lacking an apology. An admission of wrongdoing. A resolution. The carefully worded e-mails I have from the merchant are conspicuously devoid of an apology or anything of the sort.
And, I know I will never get it. I don’t expect it. But, without it, it still doesn’t feel like the wrong’s been made right. I guess I’ll just have to settle for a check.