Sunday Stride – “I’m sorry, but…”

There are two phrases that drive me crazy when I hear them come out of my kids’ mouths:

“I’m sorry but…”⠀
“It’s not my mess, mom, so I shouldn’t have to clean it up.”

Both have already been said many times this morning. The first one came as my oldest son was trying to apologize to me for throwing a tantrum. He was upset earlier in the morning because the twins snuck into his room and stole the remote so they could watch cartoons before he awoke. He had slept with the remote to hide it from them but found no fault with that action. “I’m sorry but…” he started several times. And each time we said: “Try again. Apologies don’t have buts.”

Later in the day, the twins were tasked with cleaning up the playroom. One of them said “I only made this small part of this mess, I want my brother to admit that I didn’t make the whole mess and I want to only clean up my part.” Lord have mercy.

We went back and forth on this point way too long. They are just now getting close to finishing cleaning (though honestly I’m fairly confident it’ll be messy again soon).

“I’m sorry but…”
“It’s not my mess.”

I thought about why these phrases bother me so much this morning as I was handing out good mommy lessons right and left… and now, sitting for a minute in the relative quiet, I think I know why.

Because as an adult, I have used them myself.

How many times have I qualified an apology to another person? How many times have I been so frustrated when I had to clean up another person’s mess and so adamant that my fault in that mess was little or non-existent? As I try to raise good humans, man does it turn the spotlight on myself more times than I’d like.

This weekend, we celebrate the Holy Trinity. The Trinity is complex… but to me, it boils down to one word – relationship. God is relational. And God invites us to be in relationship.

Relationship means saying:⠀
“I’m sorry.”⠀
“How can I help?”

Today my prayer is for the wisdom to enter into relationships with a renewed sense of what the Trinity offers – a love without condition and a promise of hope.

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