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Myers: When sorry seems to be the hardest word

POSTED: December 8, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Twin tear tracks spilled down Chloe’s reddened face. “I’m sorry!” she cried.

She’d just gotten in trouble for throwing a toy at her brother. I told her she had to sit in “time out” for the offense.

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time considering “time out” a real punishment. Especially when you consider that as a child, I got a spanking for all of my various misdeeds (at least the ones my parents found out about). I only wish my parents had heard of — and practiced — “time out” when I was coming along.

Having said that, however, Amy and I have discovered that “time out” is the only thing that seems to work with Chloe. She hates having to stop what she’s doing and go sit in a chair away from all the activity. She can’t stand the time of quiet, inner reflection.

Which brings us to her crying fit. She’d thrown a toy at Cole. Now, at 4 years old, it’s not like she has the arm of a major league pitcher. Or the aim of one. The toy lobbed through the air like a marshmallow and missed Cole by a good 4 feet. But the fact that she had thrown something with the intent of hitting him required some corrective measure.

“Chloe, you’re in time out for throwing a toy at Cole. Go sit on the couch.”

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” The tears started immediately. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”

The apology is a new addition. I’m used to the screaming. I’m used to the crying. I’m even used to her falling on the floor and refusing to move. Only in the last week has she been saying she’s sorry.

The first time I heard her say it, I was proud of her. She recognized on some level that she’d done something wrong and was expressing remorse for it. But as more “time out” events occurred, I started to realize something. Chloe wasn’t apologizing for her actions. She wasn’t sorry for what she’d done. She was sorry she’d gotten caught.

This is not the kind of repentance I was looking for. Nor is it the kind of repentance our heavenly father expects (2 Corinthians 7:10). Saying you’re sorry means nothing if you’re not truly sorry for what you’ve done.

When we tell God we’re sorry, what do we mean? We’re sorry he calls our actions sinful? We’re sorry we’re being convicted of our sins?

We must remember that Jesus gave his life so that we could be forgiven of our sins. When you consider the magnitude of his sacrifice, is it really too much to ask of us to take responsibility for our actions and say to God, “I’m sorry”?

Parrish Myers is pastor of Pine Crest Baptist Church in Gainesville. His column runs every other week in Sunday Life.


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