"I'm sorry ... " - may be the hardest words to say in the English language!
"I'm sorry ... " This short phrase - very hard to say and harder still to do - is perhaps the most significant key to relationships I know.
In 1970 there was a movie "Love Story" (based on a novel) where the line "Love means never having to say you're sorry" is spoken by the leading lady (Ali MacGraw/Jennifer) who dies before the end of the movie and again by the leading man (Ryan O'Neal/Oliver Barrett IV) at the very end of the movie as a kind of eulogy to Jennifer.
"Love means never having to say you're sorry" became a cutesy phrase that gradually worked its way into our cultural sub-conscience. BUT "Love means never having to say you're sorry" isn't cute! It isn't true! It's actually an awful lie straight from the pit of hell!
Even the likes of John Lennon and the ridiculous Simpsons on TV know better. John Lennon said, "Love means having to say you're sorry every fifteen minutes." The Simpsons watch "Love Story" in the episode "Catch 'Em if You Can" and when the line is spoken Lisa objects, "No, it doesn't!" In the movie "What's Up, Doc?" Ryan O'Neal as another character responds to the same line, "That's the dumbest thing I ever heard." Even Warren Ellis's comic Doktor Sleepless knows better when the good Doktor says, "Hate means never having to say you're sorry."
"...never having to say you're sorry" has NO place in a restoration heart! And that's the main thing! It's NOT God's way to live! What distinguishes walking through life with Jesus from any other "faith system" is the "I'm sorry" routine at its best.
Repentance, grace and forgiveness are the heart of the Gospel. The starting point is a heart-meant "I'm sorry"! There is no magic in the words. The cure is in the intent of the heart to repent (turn in another direction away from the sin or offense) and find God's abundant grace first for our own hearts and then our forgiven hearts can extend forgiveness to others. Only God can make our "I'm sorrys" meaningful! Only God can reach into our unsorry hearts and turn them toward the Gospel!
It's fascinating that the likes of John Lennon and Warren Ellis grasp that "... never having to say, I'm sorry" is NOT the right path in life when there are so many Christians who still don't get it! "... never having to say, I'm Sorry" is a denial of the Gospel!
When Paul talks about sorrow related to repentance and the heart of the Gospel in 2 Corinthians 7:9 - 10, he says, "... your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended ... . Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death."
The restoration heart is willing to do the hard work of saying "I'm sorry" and living out the repentance of Godly sorrow! It's the Gospel! It's why Jesus came - to make a way for us to get past our pride to kneel at His cross and say, "I'm sorry" first to Him and then to each other. AND we have to keep saying "I'm sorry" as often as we must to make things right in the restoration process God has begun in our heart. Saying and meaning "I'm sorry" is the only way to make things right in relationship with each other. God's love makes saying and meaning "I'm sorry" possible and necessary!