Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Sorry Not Sorry!



Hi, I'm Liza, and I am an Over-Apologizer...

Spell Check is telling me "apologizer" isn't even a real word, so let me explain...  To you and to Spell Check.

A compilation of quotes from my own, nasty mouth lately:
I'm so sorry - my house is in shambles.  I'm so sorry - my hair is such a rat's nest!  I'm so sorry - our kids are so crazy...  So sorry - I didn't make it out of sweatpants today.  I'm so sorry - we're just having cold meat sandwiches.  I'm so sorry - my car is so dirty! 
From Myquillyn Smith in The Nesting Place:
"Oh, just ignore the window, we've been meaning to get new drapes."  "I've been trying to get my husband to paint that wall forever."  "I'm so sorry, those pillows just don't look right on our old sofa."  After the tour, she covered everything with a shocking statement, "I'm so embarrassed.  This house is such a mess."  Every time someone came to the door for our gathering, she welcomed her with an apology, making sure to point out every flaw (I couldn't find any) so the guest was sure to know that she knew her home was less than perfect.  All I could think was that if this beautiful, well-appointed home wasn't good enough for her, then my ramshackle, motley house certainly would never be okay.
Ugh.  That last sentence is a kicker, isn't it?

The tricky thing is that our apologies don't always start with an obvious, "I'm so sorry..."  Words like "just" and "only," for example, can be just as apologetic and just as hurtful.

A few years back, I was at a get-together with some acquaintances.  I overheard a well-dressed lady received a compliment from another gal.

Gal: That is such a cute dress!  Where did you get it?

Well-Dressed Lady: Oh...just Gap.

Me in My Head: Gap?!  JUST Gap?!  It's only from Gap.  I would kill to dress in Gap clothing.  If she thinks Gap is just normal-everyday-humdrum-Gap, then what does she think about my five-year-old Target clearance shirt??  I would love to have the kind of clothing budget that considers Gap no big deal.  Humph.

These were light bulbs for me - if apologizing for a messy house or devaluing the privilege of shopping at a nice store can make others feel insecure and "less than," certainly I should take stock of my own apologies.

And you know what?  In taking stock, in asking the Lord to search my heart, I've discovered the tendency to over-apologize is really a deeper issue.

Over-apologizing and devaluing is really a heart issue...

Over-apologizing can reveal a heart of ungratefulness.
When we apologize for our tattered sofa and two-seasons-old clothing, we admit we are discontent.  We wish to have better, we are dissatisfied with what we have, things are not good enough.

Over-apologizing can expose a heart rooted in score-keeping and comparisons.
When we apologize for ordering "just" pizza and eating on paper plates when our friends recently hosted us for a prime rib dinner with fancy napkins, we reveal we are keeping score.  We measure and weigh each other, and force competition and performance.  We enlist others in a game of comparisons.

Over-apologizing can point to our pride.
We want to be perceived as being modest, so we say we are "only" going on a short, three-day vacation to Cabo.  We take pride in being humble, so when someone compliments us on our accomplishments, we act as if they aren't such a big deal.  We want to appear relatable and down-to-earth, so we devalue our privilege, our wealth, our beauty, our success and our talents.  At its best, this is false humility and false modesty.  At its worst, this points to a prideful heart that would pity and/or look down upon others who you feel are "less" fortunate, "less" wealthy, "less" beautiful, "less" successful or "less" talented.  (Again, please see above on score-keeping...)

Over-apologizing can reveal our insecurities.
We are quick to apologize so others will know we know we "missed the mark," and have much higher standards for ourselves.  We fear others will think we are horrible parents who are okay with chaos, so we apologize for our crazy kids.  We are worried others will think we are terrible housekeepers and love to live in filth, so we apologize for our messy houses.  We are insecure about our weight and that others will think we are lazy couch potatoes, so we apologize for looking "fat" and bloated.              

Instead of ungratefulness, let's cultivate a heart of thanksgiving.
The Nester encourages us to look at our old and tattered sofas with gratefulness - seeing the tears and stains and rumpled appearance as signs of life.  Our tattered sofas have been used, cuddled on, jumped on, and loved well.  Perfect sofas are for model homes and vacant houses.

Instead, let's stop keeping score and cheer others on.
Hooray for talented cooks who whip up prime rib just for fun!  Hooray for fit mamas who run half-marathons on the weekends!  Hooray for tidy housekeepers that remember to make their beds everyday!  When others do something well, if we aren't keeping score or comparing, we will avoid the temptation to apologize for not doing something as well.  We will be too busy celebrating others and we'll forget about our "have nots."

Instead, let's celebrate our gifts!
A few years ago, one of my friends was able to buy a brand new Coach purse.  The minute I saw her, she ran to me excitedly, held out her purse, and said, "Look at this!  I've been waiting forever for this baby!  Don't you LOVE it?!"  Instead of devaluing such a privilege, she rejoiced in it and counted it a huge blessing.  I was able to share in her joy and slap a high five.

Instead, let's be confident in our identity.
Recently, I complimented a friend on her talents as a beautician.  Instead of saying, "Oh, it's not such a big deal.  I should really be better..."  She beamed and said something like, "Thanks!!  It's a gift God gave me, and I love to use it!"  Her response was so refreshing.  She owns it.  She rocks it.  She knows who she is, who she's called to be, and she kills it.

Our over-apologizing, our insecurities, our ungratefulness, our pride and our devaluing is crippling and deceiving us.

The Nester (I promise this is the last time I'll reference her), wrote about visiting her sponsor child from Compassion:
I had braced myself for shock and sadness and guilt and hopelessness over Topiwo's house.  I knew his family had struggled to survive through drought until Compassion stepped in to help.  But after visiting his beautiful dirt home, I didn't feel sad about where Topiwo lives.  Unlike most of the homes we had visited, Topiwo's home was rich with love and community and joy and gracefulness.  Richer than a lot of homes I see in our country.   
I need to be more less apologetic and more confident and grateful for my "beautiful dirt."  I am so rich in so many things.

I should care less about my mess, and be more thankful for my lived in house.  I should care less about my cellulite and celebrate my healthy body.  I should care less about my thrifted clothes and rejoice in the opportunity to shop at all!

The less we apologize for silly things, the more we give others freedom and permission to be themselves - imperfections and all.

SO sorry for saying, "Sorry!"  (wink, wink!)

Hold me to this, friends.  I am such a work in progress...

(AND, go get The Nesting Place!  Such a great read...)
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