Why Is Apologizing So Hard?


It’s funny how quickly you can go from such a good place to a grimy, pride-filled placed dripping with indignation and hurt feelings.


Last night I had a wonderful evening with Canadian friends. Tapas, cocktails, sunset walks on ocean piers. This morning I accidentally stumbled onto the realization that a childhood friend had unfriended me on facebook. Cue world crashing down.


Of all the dumb things to get riled up about, right? But I was. Am. I am so angry that this person unfriended me. Mostly because unfriending is a personal social media faux pas of mine. I basically cannot unfriend anyone. I just can’t do it. It’s too hurtful for the person on the other end. You just don’t DO that. And in this day and age where you can make lists of who sees your content and you can hide people from your newsfeed completely, there’s really no need to cut people off.  So to choose to do so anyway is somehow even more of an insult.




But that’s really not the issue, is it? My own personal pet peeves aside, this is a problem of pride. I am offended. I am hurt. I want it all to be about me!


But I am not innocent. I know that I’ve both hurt and offended this person, as well. We’ve never had an argument, I’ve never said anything to or about her personally, but my opinions on matters close to her heart have stung. My grievances with church and southern culture, which I’ve been all too free to voice online, have injured her. Funny how easy it is to wound without ever personally attacking.


So she chose to cut me clean out. And even though I think that’s much too extreme a measure, I don’t have a lot of space to defend myself.


Not surprisingly, God has been gently bring me back to the art of apologizing recently. For reasons I couldn’t understand I’ve been unable to get it off the brain. Genuinely apologizing is one of the hardest things in the world. And I’m crap at it. If I’m extremely close to someone, like the people that live under my own roof, I can occasionally work up the humility and courage to pull it off. But outside of that teeny tiny circle? Well, things are just going to slowly burn until I’ve baby-stepped away from the relationship for long enough that a slow bridge of bitterness is built that separates us forever. Like, actual forever.

Apologizing can be the hardest thing in the world.

In my North American, Southern, passive-aggressive cultural upbringing, directness is not a virtue. It’s awkward and personal and not socially acceptable. Sometimes I think I would love to acclimate into a more blunt culture. Let’s air this crap out already. And be done with it.


And yet, there have been a small handful of people in my life who have crossed that prideful, socially awkward barrier and offered me a genuine, heartfelt apology. And every time it has shocked, humbled, and healed me. Dang near instantly. It’s a radical gift to apologize. And I’m ashamed that I’ve been incapable of it.


So I don’t think it’s a coincidence that God has been slowly guiding my mind back to confronting my own pride and weakness and inability to apologize – the very week that a situation would provide me the opportunity. There’s no such thing as a spiritual coincidence.


I still have so much work to do in my own heart.




  1. I love your honesty Jessica!! You speak such truth that we all have to face. Anger is always the response to being hurt, and yet you are realizing that God is leading through a new revelation within this circumstance.
    Praying for Him to soften your heart and lead you through it. Beautiful post!

  2. I very much resonate with this post! I’ve been the one who unfriended someone on FB- not because I disliked the person but because it was painful to be connected with them and I no longer felt that I would be “friends” with them in the real world. I ended up apologizing to the person because I felt guilty about it and It was resolved but didn’t really bring the relationship along any further. On the other side, I’ve also been rejected on FB which has caused a lot of speculation, inner searching and shame especially when it was without explanation. If I’ve learned anything from this, it is that apologizing and forgiveness (and the other side of the coin: confrontation when hurt) are hallmarks of Christianity. I agree that it is radical and necessary – and takes lots of practice. I would recommend “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown in learning how to be vulnerable – it has helped me tremendously.

  3. I get the hurt feelings, I easily hurt. But let me give you some perspective: a relative of mine unfriended another relative on FB. Partly because they had grown a little distant and partly because she was just overwhelmed and tired with all the updates. The unfriended relative got really offended.

    Y’know, it’s live and let live. I’m sure your childhood friend will greet you and would have a nice talk w/you and chat over coffee if you met. But, yes, sometimes other people’s opinions are not those we want to be constantly exposed to, over and over again. Sometimes it’s just the deluge of updates that people can’t stand.

    Just because we don’t want to be in *daily* touch or contact with another person’s life, opinions or activities doesn’t mean we disapprove or “hate” them. It’s just we need, well, the appropriate distance.

    My two cents. Silvia

    • And because I work in social media I think I forget that not everyone else is as familiar with facebook settings, etc, as I am. It’s easy to simply reduce the number of posts from someone in your feed or hide them altogether while still staying friends. So it may be the case that a lot of people don’t know how to do that so they unfriend.

      • Yup. I am one of those people who DON’T know all the ins and outs (in fact, I barely find my way around!)

  4. Mark Allman says:

    It makes us vulnerable to apologize because we don’t know what the response will be. That being said it does not relieve us of the responsibility to apologize. It is tough to do at times but freeing as well. We need to own our actions and if they hurt we need to own what our response should be and that may be to make amends if we can and to apologize. To apologize to someone we affirm them I believe. We give them back something we stole from them.


  1. […] Also, I’m a pretty big coward.  God isn’t kidding about me learning how to apologize. […]