The Power of Apology

By Jannice May

For sixteen years Iíve had the privilege of traveling and attending workshops my husband Curtis does for Reconciliation Ministry. These workshops can last one day or the whole weekend. No matter what the length the results are always the same. At first people are nervous because they are not sure what to expect. Then by lunch the climate has warmed up. People are saying they wished this person or that person could have come. Iím always amazed to see God use these workshops to change lives.

Since these are Reconciliation Ministry workshops many times I hear people apologizing because of pain or hurt they feel they have caused others, even though it might have been unintentional. Iím always moved by that. Curtis emphasizes how important an apology is for people. Even if we were not the one that did anything to that person, just acknowledging what others have gone through and saying, ďIím sorryĒ helps them with the healing process.

I would like to share how I came to understand just how important that kind of apology can be.

In June we were flying back from Dallas, Texas. Our flight left at 8:30 a.m. for Phoenix, Arizona. We had to get to the airport early, so we were hoping to get some sleep on the plane. As we were boarding and putting things away Curtis asked me to put his I-Phone in my purse – something heís never asked me to do before. I put the phone in my purse and placed it under the seat in front me like I always do. The plane was packed with passengers and we settled in for the three hour flight.

Curtis went to sleep, so I put my ear plugs in and slept too. When I heard the captain on the intercom say we were just 25 minutes out of Phoenix I decided to put my ear plugs in my purse. However, I noticed my purse was on the opposite side of where I had placed it. I picked up my purse to check the contents. Curtisís phone was gone. Only the case was there. I asked Curtis if he took his phone out and he said, ďNo, I gave it to you.Ē It was gone.

Then I opened my wallet. All my cash, about $135, was gone, including a two dollar bill I was hiding out of sight for our granddaughter Jadenís two year birthday. I was in a state of shock. It was disconcerting to know that a thief was near us. We did a lot of praying because we really wanted the I-Phone back.

When the plane pulled up to the gate I got up and looked at the seat ahead of us. On the floor, at the feet of a young woman, was a phone. I asked her to give it to me and yes, it was Curtisís phone – definitely not in my purse where I had put it and there is no way it could have fallen out. We were not able to talk with the woman because she was off that plane at what seemed like lightning speed, but we had the phone back. What an answer to prayer! Fortunately, Curtis has a code on his phone so his information was protected.

Our son Bradley who is a police officer suggested we find a security guard at the airport and report this, which we did. Evidently, this woman was making a connecting flight and they were able to find her. Five officers were helping us. Three officers went on the plane to pull her off her flight. Curtis took the opportunity to share with the remaining two officers about Reconciliation Ministries. Is he committed to this ministry or what?

Of course the woman denied taking our phone and money. They searched her bags, but to no avail. The whole ordeal really impacted me. Even though we werenít bodily harmed, I felt vulnerable and violated.

The next day I was depressed. I did not realize I was still having a hard time dealing with the airport theft, but I was. My daughter Angela found out what happened and called to get the details. I shared the whole story with her and her husband Bryan who was also on the line. After I finished Bryan said, ďMom, I am sorry you went through that.Ē The way he said it, I could hear that he was truly sorry.

What happened next was a surprise to me. My depression lifted. I felt it just go away. The sadness was no longer there.

At that moment I realized what Curtis had been saying for years about the importance of an apology. My son-in-law did nothing to me, but he wanted to make me feel better. He empathized with my situation. He told me he was sorry I had to go through it. I will never forget how much this warmed my heart and changed my life.

Offering an apology sends a powerful message – one that says we care. I hope we never miss an opportunity to make someone feel better and change lives by saying, ďIím sorry.Ē