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The Apology Jar

The Apology Jar

I’m sorry.

It’s a good phrase. It’s an important phrase. It’s something we teach our children to say when they need to acknowledge wrongdoing and work to restore a relationship. It’s something many adults need to get better at saying (and meaning) without qualifying with a “but” or an “if.” And that definitely includes me because I’m not very good at admitting when I’m wrong.

But I’m awfully good at saying I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I didn’t know that.

I’m sorry to bother you, but can I ask you a question?

I’m sorry, was that in your way?

And I’ve got a couple of amazing coworkers who are also really good at this kind of apologizing.

I’m sorry I forgot what I was saying.

I’m sorry, that story was really rambling.

Sorry, were you sitting here?

The experts tell us that while we may be innocently attempting to keep peace and avoid conflict, this kind of apologizing can not only damage our careers, but also our self-image. We do not need to apologize for a lack of knowledge, for taking up space, for opening our mouths. We do not need to apologize for existing! We do not need to use apologies as conversation “smoothers,” to cushion whatever blows might befall those around us. We do not need to apologize when a simple “thank you” or “excuse me” will due. We do not need to apologize when what we really need to do is stand firm in our convictions.

So I’ve been joking with my coworkers that I’m going to institute an “apology” jar around the office. Sort of like a swear jar, we’ll each have to put $1 in when we’re caught in an apology.

Or when, like happened a few weeks ago, our boss even asks for an unwarranted apology. My boss (who also happens to be my sweet husband, so that’s an interesting dynamic) was suggesting some phrasing for an email I was sending to his boss, and his wording included an apology. I did not feel the apology was warranted, so instead of saying “I’m sorry that I didn’t know X” I wrote, “I just learned X” and continued with the email. It wasn’t hard to turn that phrase and I was still polite and respectful in my email, without diminishing myself in the process.

And even if I can’t make the general public give me $1 for an unwarranted apology, I’m not going to accept them so easily anymore either. At the Evolving Faith conference I turned around to tell a new friend how much I enjoyed listening to her gorgeous voice sing harmonies in my ear that afternoon. Her response to my gratitude and compliment?! “I’m sorry,” along with a sheepish lowering of her head.

“Nope.” I laughed. “That’s not how this works. That is the wrong answer when someone gives you a compliment. The right answer is: thank you. Let’s try this again.”

And we did.

And this time she smiled, and said, “thank you” instead.

 

How about you? Are you an over-apologizer? Do you have tips or tricks for those of us trying to break this habit?

Evolving Faith Conversation

Evolving Faith Conversation

So last month Darin and I packed our bags, kissed our children goodbye, promised our undying affection to Gran who was looking after them, and flew across the country to attend the Evolving Faith Conference. Organized by two faith leaders we deeply admire, Sarah Bessey and Rachel Held Evans, the conference was a place for “doubters, dreamers, survivors, rebuilders, guides, and travelers – who know what it’s like to experience a shift in faith.” Darin and I were excited to hear from Sarah and Rachel and the amazing lineup of speakers they had put together, we were grateful for the chance to get away together after an incredibly challenging season of ministry, but we were really eager to be in a room of full of kindred spirits and maybe feel a little less alone.

gorgeous Montreat, tired travelers

As I posted quotes and pictures on social media my friends back home kept telling me how jealous they were that I was at this event, and how much they wanted me to share what I was learning. But there was so much going on in my own head, heart, and spirit – there were so many speakers and so many topics. How could I distill this conference into one blog post or a handful of twitter quotes?

As I pondered and prayed I wondered if there were more kindred spirits here in my own hometown than perhaps I knew. Maybe I wasn’t quite so alone here on this faith journey.

And so I posted on social media that I would be hosting a conversation on Evolving Faith. Thursday night at 8:30. Come and chat. Or come and listen. Just come.

And some people came.

And others messaged to tell me they had prior commitments but wished they could come.

So here is the hour-long conversation for those of you who wished you could have made it but weren’t able to. If you watch it, leave me a comment and let me know. What is something you heard that resonated with you heart? With your journey? (Note: There is one swear. Just a heads up.)

I promised my new friends I would post the names and social media for the conference speakers here, so scroll on down for that list. Here’s also a link to the Gospel Coalition article that I mentioned (and have a lot of issues with) in case you’re interested in reading that one.

But I’m honestly excited, blessed, and a bit intimidated that the women who joined me want these conversations to continue. They are definitely on their own evolving faith journeys, and they want to keep talking. So we’re going to keep talking.

In the coming days I’ll pick a topic and post it, along with a bit of “pre-work” like a blog post to read or podcast to listen to. Then we’ll come back together for a chat. We’ll take our topics from those of the conference: evolving faith and the personal journey, family dynamics, relationships, the bible, church, science, justice, politics, and the arts. I think we’ll be busy for a while.

As we continue I probably will not publicly post our conversations – just our pre-work and maybe some reflections of my own. But if you want to join us, or do join us regularly and miss a session, there’s always a possibility of viewing a conversation with a password I can email you.

I’m excited. I hope you’ll join me.

2018 Evolving Faith Speakers:

Audrey Assad (Singer/Songwriter/Speaker) Twitter, Instagram

Cindy Wang Brandt (Author/Speaker) Twitter

Austin Channing Brown (Author/Speaker) Twitter, Instagram
You should read her book I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness NOW.
Also, she gave probably the best sermon I’ve heard in my life at this conference. I hope they make a way for me to purchase it because I want every preacher I know to watch it. Her storytelling was powerful and her prophetic voice was unparalleled.

Jeff Chu (Journalist/Author/Seminarian) Twitter, Instagram

Katlin Curtice (Potawatomi Author/Speaker/Worship Leader) Twitter

Peter Enns (Professor, Eastern University) Twitter

Kathy Escobar (Author/Pastor, The Refuge, North Denver) Twitter

The Rev. Will Gafney, PH.D. (Assoc. Professor of Hebrew Bible, Episcopal Priest) Twitter, Instagram

Jen Hatmaker (Author/Speaker/Co-Founder of Legacy Collective) Twitter, Instagram

Cheryl Bridges Johns (Professor of Spiritual Renewal, Pentecostal Theological Seminary) Twitter

Jonathan Martin (Writer/Speaker) Twitter

Mike McHargue (Co-Founder, The Liturgists) Twitter, Instagram

Osheta Moore (Author/Pastor: Woodland Hills Church, St. Paul, MN) Twitter

A’driane Nieves (Artist) Instagram

Propaganda (Poet/Thought-Leader/Emcee) Twitter, Instagram

Sandra Marie Van Opstal (Author/Speaker/Pastor: Grace & Peace Church, Chicago, IL) Twitter, Instagram

Nish Weiseth (Author/Columnist/Podcaster) Twitter, Instagram

Audrey and Propaganda joining my lunch line