While driving my son back from an orthodontist appointment he pointed out a grammatical error on a sign over a feeding center owned and operated by a local church. The sign says “Fishes ‘N’ Loaves”. I wonder how many people see that sign and completely discount that church as irrelevant based on nothing else. For all we know, that church may be the purest expression of Christianity this world has to offer.
Technically… “fishes” is not a correct use plural. “Fish”, not fishes, is correct. The capital N between Fishes ‘N’ Loaves has an apostrophe on both sides of the letter. It seems the designer didn’t know for sure where to put the apostrophe, so each side got one.
This made for a very interesting discussion on how good deeds trump bad grammar. The people in need of the services the feeding center offers are not going to bring a red pen to critique all printed material. Fishes ‘N’ Loaves gets a pass because they offer free stuff to the needy and they may just have a reason why they spelled it like that to begin with. Every church has a peanut gallery, so who am I judge?
People seem to criticize most harshly what they get for nothing.
Some save their best insults for the people that give and serve out of the goodness of their hearts. The church has never gone without critique, which is actually by design, but that’s another post.
There’s a chapter called On Forgiveness in C. S. Lewis’ book The Weight of Glory that I found very helpful. He said something about forgiveness I’d never considered.
For the record, Fishes ‘N’ Loaves owes no one an apology. They can call it whatever they want ‘N’ get away with it. I’m certain that they have had a question or two about why they chose to spell it the way they did. But even then, an apology isn’t needed, just maybe an explanation to those who ask.
I didn’t mention that I needed to ask for forgiveness from my oldest son a few minutes before the whole Fishes ‘N’ Loaves thing. I did so because I’d been critical with him that morning for getting up late. He got the backfire from something I was going through that had nothing to do with him. I asked for his forgiveness, and he gave it to me.
If something was done that needs an apology, sometimes an explanation can be offered, revealing that not as much needs to be forgiven. However, if someone feels that only an explanation is needed for their wrong doing, it may become painfully obvious that there were things that shouldn’t be excused.
When God judges, He is completely blameless in His dealings, and not only that, He exercises mercy. When we stand before Him someday we will discover the truth about every transaction we lived through. God knows everything and will shed light on situations where we thought we were right in our dealings with others, but in fact were wrong. On the other hand, He will also show that in some cases where we thought we were wrong, we were actually in the right!
Resolving conflict probably comes easy to you. You’re probably so good at it, internet memes are created in your honor regarding your skill in helping people get along, especially with you!
Nothing defines the human experience as does conflict, and nothing drives us from experiencing the good life as our desire to stay away from conflict at all costs. Even though you may have no problem with confronting others doesn’t mean you’re good at it.
Let’s just assume that you’ve needed to ask forgiveness for something you did that caused someone pain, but you chose to put it into the “I only need to explain myself” category. If you’re like me, justifying yourself will come as natural as the sunrise. If you find yourself in that situation, you can avoid being the dummy that can’t admit fault.
- “I did it.”
Name the deed. Yes, it hurts, but you’re still in someone’s debt until you name the offense. Whatever you don’t say stays in the relational atmosphere like Walmart bags and solo cups in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Yes it’s actually a thing. Check it out.
- “I was wrong.”
Not only do you have to admit the thing that you did, you must also admit that it was a crappy thing to do. Calling out the deed, AND the ugly nature of it, is necessary. Anything short of it isn’t a real apology.
- “I’m sorry.”
Like when you tell your kid to say they’re sorry for hitting their sister… “ssORRyy!” Will someone please identify the object of sorry-ness! Let that humility breathe like the patio umbrella you stored under the porch all winter. You have to actually say “I’m sorry.” Anything else does not identify the object of sorrow.
- “Will you forgive me?”
Wait for it… no really. Wait for it. When you ask for forgiveness, don’t assume that you’ll get it immediately, or at all for that matter. Some people need to process and others may need to be resuscitated because they died a little when you apologized. This one is hard because you actually have to let go of someone’s response. However they deal with it is no longer between you and that person. And don’t get upset because they didn’t forgive you right away.
- “Will you hold me accountable?”
You actually give this person or group the right and responsibility to hold you accountable if it were to happen again. Most of us are repeat offenders anyway, so get over it now and admit that you’ll have to apologize again sometime soon. I’m at this point in my life where I’ve grown tired of faking it. I dream of a day when no one in my life is afraid of being honest with me regardless of response.
- “Is there anything else?”
You know why? Because there might be something else. Every sin has a twin and it’s possible that this is all a part of a deeper issue. It’s scary at first but you have to get to the point where you’re okay with giving this person, or group, the chance at really clearing the air. Why continue in someone’s debt if you can get out of all of it in one fell swoop?
Do you have someone in your life that needs an apology from you? Do you offer excuses to get out of something that you need to own up to? Don’t let your pride outpace your judgement when an apology or an explanation can erase a multitude of sins.