“Say Sorry”

Jayne: “Mom! Ryder hit me!”
Me: “Ryder, say sorry.”

Ryder: “Mom! Jayne broke my toy!”
Me: “Jayne, say sorry.”

Me: “Husband, you hurt my feelings . . . Say sorry.”

Friend: “I’ve been feeling hurt and left out.”
Me: “Sorry.”


Say sorry. These two words may have been among the first words of correction I shared with my kids. There are tons of blogs about whether or not to have your children use these two words, but I just ignored them all, because . . . people should say sorry . . .

It’s just a fact of life. We hurt each other. When we hurt each other, amends feels necessary.

It’s as if each of us has a jar full of good feelings written on scraps of paper. When someone hurts you, they take some of the good feelings out of the jar. At this point, there are 2 options. Leave the jar less empty, or refill the jar with amends and more good feelings.

I’m someone who likes to hear the words, “I’m sorry.” I like to hear them, and I’m quick to say them.

I just want people to have full feelings jars. I’m not good at letting broken situations sit idle without progress. If I say sorry sooner, then the feelings can be replaced in the jar sooner, right?

This would make perfect sense if relationship really were like an inanimate jar full of scraps of paper – and oh, how I wish it was.

We know this, don’t we: Relationship isn’t a math problem. 1+1 does not always equal 2. The goal of my relationships cannot be to get through life with individual jars full of good feelings, but to become a community of people who share all of life together.

The goal of relationship is not individual happiness, but collective intimacy.

In my friendships, I want to understand and meet real needs, not just enjoy each other’s company.
In my family, I want us to know each other deeply and share unselfishly.
In my marriage, I want 1+1 to equal 1. Oneness as the goal, not just partnership.

I can get on board with this in my physical life pretty easily, but what about with God?

There is a word I have avoided most of my life of faith. The word is confession.

I really hated that word because it felt so formal. Confession.

I fail all the time. I let sin in. I know who I am supposed to be and how I’m supposed to follow Jesus, and I miss it. I don’t want to be reminded of my failure, especially by God.

It feels so much scarier to “say sorry” to God than to people in my life. It’s not like God has a jar of good feelings He needs me to fill, but there is the whole “I died for you so you could have a full life” thing . . . I think it’s hard because I believe my confession will ultimately lead to my guilt.

In reality, I am already guilty, and Jesus already knows that. So why should I confess?

Because confession leads to intimacy.


You cannot have intimacy without honesty. It’s one thing to know something about someone you love. It’s another to know that they know.

Imagine what it’s like for God, who knows EVERYTHING. The patience He has with us as we learn to accept our failure and His grace is astounding to me.

When I fear confession, I am really saying that I don’t believe God’s grace is big enough for my sin. I believe that if I share where I fall short, I will have to deal with the brokenness in me, and I don’t have a cure. Refusal to bring my sin before Jesus is really just a refusal to believe He is who He says He is.

Confession is not about shaming, it’s about receiving grace.

Our Jesus says this, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)

Full life. All of you. Jesus isn’t just after the good parts, He’s after intimacy.

The enemy wants to steal the full life Jesus wants to give you by keeping you slave to the sin inside your heart.

When we allow the Holy Spirit to point out the sin entangling us, we are free to release it, trusting that the sacrifice of Jesus is more than enough to fill in the gaps of our stories.

Confession leads to intimacy, and intimacy leads to repentance.

Repentance is a 180 degree turn from the place you have been. This is what heart change looks like.

Confidence that Jesus fills in the gaps and the Holy Spirit can lead us to full life is what a life marked with repentance looks like. This is true with God and with those we love. Once you offer up your confession that you have not measured up, you will be met with true grace – and you’ll never want to go back to that place of sin and pain again.

It’s not so much that you won’t fail, but you will fail within the sweet embrace of Jesus.

That’s the place I want to stay – within the sweet embrace of Jesus. There is always more grace.

Let’s be free to fail within the intimacy of community with each other and with our Jesus. And let’s be quick to move beyond our failure and into full life.


(Excerpt edited from “This Side of Breathing” releasing October 2017)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (NIV)

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