How the humility required to apologize restores & heals

The moment I met Rebekah Lyons, at Q Portland 2012, and she told me how our stories intersected—the story of a farm girl fighting for joy, being read by her in NYC, fighting for joy too—I only wanted to hear more of her God-story. Last fall she released the bestseller, Rhythms of Renewal, where she outlined four simple rhythms – Rest, Restore, Connect, Create – that radically changed her life and brought sustained emotional health. This month she is releasing the Rhythms for Life Planner and Journal: 90 Days to Peace and Purpose to gently bring practical solutions to daily life, encouraging all of us to release the things that drain us to rediscover what brings fulfillment and joy. I can’t think of a more perfect gift for such a time as this. It’s a grace to welcome Rebekah to the farm’s front porch today…

guest post by Rebekah Lyons

Two months ago, the kids and Gabe and I were on edge. Tensions tend to surface toward the close of an intense season of exams, work travel, or book and conference deadlines.

It reaches a fever pitch when there seems to be more responsibility than the number of hours in the day will allow, and it seems to happen every autumn.

Just before fall exams, I had grand Thursday night plans. It was our family’s only weeknight together between play practice, youth group, and swim team, and I’d made a home-cooked meal.

I tried to spark conversation at the table, but to no avail. No one had anything to offer but worn looks and fatigued attitudes.

Within minutes, whatever positive intentions we’d come with disintegrated into finger-pointing and complaining. It happened so fast, Gabe and I were powerless to stop it, so we just sat silently and made eye contact across the table.

Unsure how to salvage the night, we reacted the way we always do when we’re unsure what else to do: “Go to your room!” But as our kids mumbled responses and began walking upstairs, hearts more distant with each step, I knew banishing them to their rooms wasn’t the right move. Sure, none of us wanted to be together in that moment, and everyone seemed fine with a reprieve.

But I knew the best response when connection is broken is not to push away but rather the opposite, to pull in. (After all, wasn’t this something Emerson had taught us?)

I yelled up to them, “Stop! Come back to the living room.” With eye rolls and complaints about my inconsistent parenting, they returned.

Undeterred, I launched into conversation. “None of us feel like being together right now or want to have a conversation about how to address the tension and conflict.”

The kids didn’t say anything, and I imagined them thinking to themselves, Exactly, so why are we here?

I continued, “What if we try something else? Let’s each find a spot on the couch or a chair and worship together, singing something before God and each other that is good and true. I know singing is the last thing you want to do right now, because it’s hard to sing and stay mad. But if we want to reunite our hearts, this might be the best way to work through something instead of faking it and moving on.”

Those initial moments following my impassioned monologue were awkward for sure, but no one had a better idea.

Pierce, always happy to do the helpful thing, grabbed his guitar and began playing. While the result was disjointed, each person made a whole-hearted attempt, proving their hearts were pliable. Within a few minutes, everyone relaxed and settled into the song. We fixed our focus outside of ourselves and reoriented our hearts.

When the second song came to a close, Gabe and I couldn’t get the words out fast enough.

We both apologized for our role in the tensions of the evening, taking responsibility for letting the conversation get out of hand. Our kids softened and received our offering.

By the end of the third song, they began to open up about their own stress levels, confessing the baggage they’d brought with them into the night, and apologized for their own part in the drama.

As our discussion drew to a close, we felt more connected than we had in weeks. Hugs and laughter began to return before bedtime. A night that could have been lost to misunderstanding and frustration was recovered. Our living room moment created true connection and turned into an epic family night!

Why Apologize?

Scripture has something to say about going to bed angry: “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” I’d heard this statement growing up but never quite understood what a foothold meant. It means a “strong first position from which further progress can be made.”

An intruder doesn’t need our whole heart, just a crack wide enough to get a foot in the door.

When we hold grudges, keeping a record of wrongs against each other time and time again, that crack becomes a wide-open door for the enemy to do what he does best: “steal and kill and destroy” the ones we love most.

Apologizing for the wrongs we’ve committed paves the way for forgiveness in our relationships. 

There’s no shortage of research showing the health benefits of extending forgiveness. It lowers blood pressure, stress, and anxiety. It keeps relationships in repair, keeps connectedness strong.

But how can you cultivate open, connected, forgiving relationships if you’re not willing to be the first to apologize for a misunderstanding? How can you pave the way to wholeness without first apologizing for your part in any brokenness?

I’ve prioritized confession and apologizing in my own life, believing that the humility required to apologize restores relationships.

I am teaching my kids to do the same so that they, too, can experience the peace of mind that comes when broken relationships are restored.

When I was a young mom, I thought we had forever. The days were long; the entire season seemed infinite. I thought I had plenty of time to teach our kids all the things I wanted them to know.

But now that they are teenagers, I don’t want to miss any of it. I want to be a mama who slows down enough to not gloss over conflicts. I want to be proactive in responding to what wasn’t said. I want to show my kids how to keep from sweeping problems under the rug.

After all, I only have so much time left to teach them to apologize for their part in any wrong so that their relationships can be healed, and pain, stress, and anxiety can be relieved.

That’s why even in tense moments when none of us really wants to talk it out, our family works toward conflict resolution by stopping, confessing, and apologizing.

Our commitment to this takes stonewalling off the table and provides a path to healing.

Often, that healing connection renews relationships and sucks anger, anxiety, and stress out of the room.

If you know you’ve played a part in a broken relationship, why not lead with an apology? Sit down with your spouse or child.

Call your loved one or friend. Offer a heartfelt apology and ask for forgiveness.

Then, rest easy, knowing you’ve laid the first stone on the path to restored connections.

 

Rebekah Lyons is a national speaker and bestselling author of Rhythms of Renewal: Trading Stress and Anxiety for a Life of Peace and Purpose, You Are Free: Be Who You Already Are, and Freefall to Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning. An old soul with a contemporary, honest voice, Rebekah reveals her own battles to overcome anxiety and depression—and invites others to discover and boldly pursue their God-given purpose. Alongside her husband, Gabe, Rebekah finds joy in raising four children, two of whom have Down syndrome. She wears her heart on her sleeve, a benefit to friends and readers alike. Her latest, Rhythms for Life Planner and Journal: 90 Days to Peace and Purpose will be available nationwide October 27, 2020. To pre-order and receive lots of goodies: visit rebekahlyons.com.

Her latest book, Rhythms for Life Planner and Journal: 90 Days to Peace and Purpose, is the perfect guide to daily rescue and a way forward into the peace your soul longs for. Rebekah draws from her own battle with depression and anxiety and shares a pathway to establish four life-giving rhythms that quiet inner chaos and make room for a flourishing life: Rest, restore, connect, and create.

For anyone who struggles with stress, anxiety, overcommitment, depression, or exhaustion, here’s the next right step. The perfect companion to the bestselling Rhythms of Renewal by Rebekah Lyons, this beautiful journaling planner is exactly what you need to build restorative rhythms into your daily routine for a life of health, purpose, and joy.

As you begin this daily practice, you’ll experience the renewal God offers. The best part? You’ll live these rhythms for life in your own unique way, at a pace that works for you. This isn’t a race, but a rhythm. Transformation happens one small step at a time.

[ Our humble thanks to Zondervan for their partnership in today’s devotion ]