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Regrets and Apologies
Regret is that miserable awareness that you have done something you cannot reverse. Last week, Chester decided that he was going to build a fire and sit outside to enjoy the quiet evening. He invited me to join him. The air was crisp, the fire was hot and I was tired from a long day. All the reasons many people give for enjoying a campfire, and all the reasons I gave for not. Now, I regret not going out and spending some quiet time with my husband. Thankfully, my experience with regret was about as good as regret can get. First, because I expect to have another opportunity to join him. Secondly, because my regret was short-lived. And, thirdly, because my regret gave me an awareness of a more satisfying choice given a future opportunity.
But, regret does not always present a future opportunity. Just last week, my friend, Pam, shared her regret over the death of a dear friend. “It would have been so easy to have called her!” But, she had not, and now that opportunity was lost forever. Regret is also that miserable feeling when you have given up something you can never regain.
As I thought about regret, I realized that regret and apology are genetically quite similar. Both regret and apologies are accompanied by remorse. Both are initiated by words or actions that produced unsatisfactory results. Both have their benefits. Regret can enable a person to act more wisely in the future. An apology can restore trust in a broken relationship. Both regret and a genuine apology possess two I’s. “I regret that I didn’t visit my mother more often.” I regret that I. Two “I’s.” “I apologize that I made those unkind comments about your weight.” Again, two I’s. While I am here, let me add a caution. You may experience regret if you put a u in an apology. For example, “I’m sorry that YOU were upset when I made fun of your weight.” That “you” misplaces the blame on the over-sensitivity of the recipient rather than on the insensitive remark of the offender. Anyway, as is obvious, regrets and apologies share similar genetic traits.
Regret and apology, however, are not identical twins, as they differ in several significant ways. For one, regret is a feeling, while apology is an action. In addition, regret is personal, born in response to one’s own feelings. An apology, conversely, is relational, birthed as a response to another’s feelings. An apology is an acknowledgement that my words or behavior have physically or emotionally harmed another person. Another difference in the two characters is that an apology is an event, while regret presents more as a lingering sentence. So, though they are quite similar, regret and apology are not identical.
After close examination, however, I believe that Regret and Apology are most definitely brothers. In addition, I am convinced that Regret was definitely the firstborn. Apology was born second. This birth order has to be true, for if Apology had come first, then, it is highly unlikely that Regret would have been born at all.
Contributed by Carolyn Primm