Joining them at their table, the cousins exchanged memories and caught up on what they’d each missed since they hadn’t seen each other in so long. At some point my friend’s cousin looked at her husband and said, “Grandmother chose one child in each family to pick on. In Jeanette’s family, it was Jeanette.”
Drawing a quick breath, Jeanette said, “Oh my goodness! I thought it was just my imagination!”
“No,” her cousin said. “It was just grandmother’s way.”
What made this story even more dramatic was several years later Jeanette saw her grandmother again, after being away. In a quiet moment of alone time, her grandmother said, “Jeanette, I can’t tell you how dear you are to me. I am so proud of you and I love you very much.” Jeanette was speechless! Never before, had her grandmother spoken to her this way. The wall that had surrounded her heart crumbled with gladness.
Situations like this aren’t just for grandchildren and grandparents. It happens across the board. We live in a culture where misunderstandings are left alone far too long. As a young child, Jeanette completely misunderstood her grandmother. I contend the chastisement wasn’t a deliberate attempt of “picking,” but rather a desire to see the little granddaughter become the person the grandmother thought she could be.
Friends have the same peculiar problem. There is cause for misunderstanding and it’s never resolved, so the friendship is shattered and the bad memory eclipses all that was good. I remember a movie I saw not long ago about two little girls who were best friends as children but as they grew older competition and self-centeredness altered their relationship until well into their adult lives. Of course in a movie, there is the “story-book ending” and they both apologized and became good friends again. It isn’t often like that in the real world. Feelings are hurt, grudges are held and friends become enemies.
Marriages are no different. Husbands and wives have a disagreement which is left unsettled, allowed to grow, fester and then mutates into something so large, settling the matter civilly is out of the question. The marriage is destroyed, contact severed and all parties involved, including the children suffer.
Why do we let pride ruin all that we call good? Why is it so hard to say, “I’m sorry?” We all make mistakes; we’re human, and no one is perfect. We aren’t mind readers and can’t make a perfect analysis of every situation. Yet many will even cringe at the thought of apologizing.
Evidence shows fear of rejection is one reason apologies come so hard, or the belief that it is a display of weakness. Apologizing makes people feel humiliated, vulnerable, or that they will somehow lose their authority, power or status. A person may even feel like apologizing somehow makes him the loser and the other party the winner. And to apologize, means admission of fault or wrong. Without the apology, there is no reason to take responsibility.
I’m glad my friend’s grandmother shared her heart and made things right with her granddaughter before she passed on. The reconciliation will be forever cherished. Isn’t that what we really want; to be accepted and loved? I challenge you to consider if reconciliation and forgiveness can be exchanged for misunderstanding in your life, as it was in my friend’s.