I had the hardest job to do this week at work: to apologize. I can handle any work task I’m given and make impossible deadlines and commitments for my clients, but I find it very hard to say the words beginning with, “I’m sorry for…”
Well, especially when I know I was right and my co-worker was wrong… She had blamed me for something that I felt was her own fault, and she was being very difficult about it. As I drove into work the next day, thinking about what had transpired between us the day before, I became full of dread and anxiety. I wrestled with the thought that I knew I should apologize for getting upset with my co-worker. But if I do that, I told myself, she will consider it a weakness and will take advantage of me and the situation. Even my old boss’ words echoed in my head, “Don’t let them walk all over you.”
But God was nudging me differently. I knew I was wrong for getting mad at her. In God’s eyes, apologizing is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. And it sure is hard to do. I always pray to God daily that He will take care of my work situations according to His plan, but was I willing to do this one thing that He wanted in return? God is less concerned about our daily work tasks than He is with the state of our hearts. And pride is one of the biggest problems we have as human beings. It is #1 on the list of seven things the Lord hates (“a proud look”, Proverbs 6:16-19). Did I really want to follow God’s Word in this case or did I just like the idea of it in theory? Sometimes I think we are more comfortable with the thought of religion rather than putting it all into action.
I arrived at work and walked into the conference room where my co-worker was solemnly sitting. First I tried friendly small-talk with her, smiling and acting like I cared. Not good enough, my inner voice told me. So when I had a chance to talk with her by herself, I apologized. “I’m sorry for getting upset with you yesterday,” I said. She half-way apologized back and then proceeded to tell me how I was still wrong. But I felt better anyway, as if a burden had been lifted from my shoulders. Not only did I receive the immediate internal relief, but God says we will also receive our rewards and praise in heaven. It is something I must remind myself often, so I do not get too carried away with the false impressions of this world.
God only requires one thing from us: a change of heart. Just repeating prayers or performing other religious rituals is not good enough. A change of heart is a simple thing yet also hard to do. We all have equal ability to do it any time, without limitations or restrictions, but it requires putting ourselves second and thinking of others first. That’s not easy with our human nature, but it is the order that God established for the world. When we begin to reverse that order, things get out of sync very quickly. And only God knows where a change of heart can lead.