Many years ago a mentor told me that saying “Sorry” was cheap. Saying “I’m sorry” left the person who was wronged powerless. There was very little for them to respond to.
The hard thing to say is, he suggested, “Please forgive me.” Then we make ourselves vulnerable. We place ourselves in the wronged person’s hands. We need to wait for their response. If the person isn’t ready, prepared or of that inclination, they may say “No,” which means that at this point healing and restoration has not occurred. We will need to go further to receive forgiveness.
A great place to practise, “Please forgive me” is in families – particularly between siblings where “I’m sorry” can become a glib catch phrase between skirmishes. To establish a “Please forgive me” procedure is a healthy (and humbling) preparation for relationships outside the family in later life. Knowing that we need to be forgiven for a relationship to be healed also places a brake on our words and actions. It causes us to think twice.
As a Christian, “Please forgive me” reminds me what Christ did so that I might be forgiven. My forgiveness cost a huge price which wasn’t paid by me. Somehow, a glib throw-away “I’m sorry” just doesn’t have the same impact.