Does Your Olive Branch Have Thorns In It?
I am sure all of us remember from the time we were small being told to tell someone we were sorry if we did something wrong. And, of course, that training carries over into adulthood. And I am also pretty sure that most of us have been the recipients of apologies that were not quite real. I call these “apologies with thorns”.You know, the kind of apologies that leave a sting.
image from www.soxfirst.com
I think it is important to extend the olive branch when there is something gone wrong between people and most people will apologize sincerely but there are always some who will hand you a bouquet of roses filled with those razor-sharp thorns like hedge roses have. You know, the kind where the roses look beautiful until you stick your hand in and then those backwards thorns grab you. And those kinds of apologizes will rip you where no one can see. Do your apologies have thorns?
One kind of apology is the one where the person says “I’m sorry, BUT if…” This means the person is saying they are sorry but something or someone else is to blame. They do the apology ritual but do not want to admit they were wrong. I am sure you remember the kind. They go like this: ”I am sorry but if I had not been working such long hours, I might not have been so sharp.” Or, “I am sorry, but if you had not said such and such, I might not have gotten so angry.” I hate these as these are comments abusers use a lot too. A person can not make right what they will not admit is wrong. These apologies I just smile and say thank you and move on.
Another kind of apology is the one said in that tone of voice that means they are not really sorry at all. You know the “I’M SOR…RY!!!” or “Well, EXCU UU SE me!” said with all the sarcasm they can muster. These are the ones where we want to go “OKAY!” in the same tone of voice, but we do not. Well, at least not out loud. These are the apologies that we really must ignore and not react to for that is what they want us to do.
Both of the above have obvious thorns in the apology, but the worst kind of apology to me is the one where the person apologizes but makes comments after intended to hurt the other person. This is the olive branch with thorns that leaves behind a wound that bleeds, just like a rose thorn does. It is sweetened with honey on one side but the thorns are razor-sharp on the other. To me, this is the lowest form of apology.
An example is when someone apologizes for something they did but then adds a comment to it. For example: “I am so sorry I hurt your feelings. You know dear, you really need to go to the hair dresser. Your hair really needs fixing.” (of course said in a tone of voice that I call nice/nasty). And such comment is said, knowing full well you just had your hair fixed that day. I am using such a simple example, but I am sure you all know what I am talking about. It is the back hand of apologies. And these people usually go for something personal to be nice/nasty about such as looks, how you write, your spelling, your children or anything they know that will hit home.
So, what do you do when someone gives you an olive branch with thorns? There are times I want to hand the thorns back with a few comments of my own, but that is not what the Creator would want us to do. I learned over time that I must be accountable for me and so I must make sure that what I say and do is honest, kind and authentic. And so, the first thing I do before I go on is forgive them. The second thing I do is answer them in a kind voice without any evidence that they hurt or upset me. It takes a life time to create a good reputation and only a few minutes to destroy that reputation. And I do not want to do that. I want to be as much like Christ as I can be and that means being kind and treating others with love. I have actually come to the point in my life where I feel sorry for these people because only hurting people hurt others and so I am able to see that they are people in some kind of pain striking out. So, I just forgive and forget about it.
Believe me please when I say returning tit for tat never brings the pleasure you and satisfaction that we sometimes think it might. Being the gracious person to someone who is handing you a bouquet of roses with sharp thorns wins every time. Always make your apologies sincere and from your heart for it shows we are truly sorry for hurting someone. I have had people in my life who just could not or would not say they were wrong or say they were sorry. This is so sad to me for it is them that carries the burden because I forgive them right away and do not hold on to it.
The one thing I do know is that I would rather receive the olive branch with thorns than give it. Giving the olive branch with thorns is being a person deliberately trying to hurt someone. We can not do anything about how others act but we can do something about how we react to things people say or do. The only person we are in charge of is ourselves. And those handing out olive branches with thorns want a reaction. They want to know they jabbed you. Not reacting is the best thing to so. If you have to react, try reacting with humor or kindness for then you are not giving them their fix. Remember my blog about leveling? This is leveling at the highest. People who apologize with thorns are miserable and want to bring you down to the level of miserable too. Do not let them do it. Reverse it and try to level them up.
If you missed my blog on Leveling, here it is: https://workthedream.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=15140&action=edit
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