The goals for one of my High School seniors this month is to get back on the schools track team that he was kicked off last semester. Breaking their “never skip a practice rule” by scheduling a doctors appointment was bad enough, but the real issue was not going to that appointment (sleeping at home instead) so when the track coach called the office they informed him the student never showed up.
What was his way of getting back onto the team? Just show up at tryouts and hope the track coach had forgotten what happened last semester. After I asked why he didn’t just apologize for skipping practice he thought about it for a moment and said, “I’m too proud.”
I’m sure that male ego has something to do with it, but the real reason for his trying to sneak onto the team comes from a misunderstanding of what it truly means to apologize for something. In the students mind after saying he was sorry for staying at home and sleeping instead of training the track coach should take him back with open arms. After all, that’s the way things are done in every sitcom (think Everyone Loves Raymond, or Home Improvement)
Step One: Husband makes a stupid mistake and tries to keep his wife from finding out
Step Two: Wife finds out what her Husband did
Step Three: Hilarity Ensues
Step Four: Husband apologizes, and all is right with the world in about five minutes
But the real world doesn’t work like that….
In reality it takes more than just an apology or five minutes of waiting for wounds to be forgotten, that can actually take months, or even years for completion. And living outside of a sitcom demands restitution (a price be paid to make things right). In the students situation the humiliation of apologizing was involved here, but also running extra laps, and being watched closer than any of the other athletes so the slightest thing wrong brought swift punishment.
Now a lot of people would blame television for this unrealistic portrayal of life (just say your sorry and everything will be fine) but I would blame those who have an influence in the young persons life. Sometimes I do wish television would portray a clearer picture of reality in these situations were relationship restoration takes more than an hour. But until that day it’s our responsibility as Believers in Christ to not only explain what real apology looks like, but illustrate it through a life of confession when we have done wrong.