If you’ve spent any amount of time with me in person, you’ve probably noticed I apologize a lot.
I say, “Sorry?” to my students when they don’t speak up.
I apologize for asking to leave early or overstaying my welcome, for arriving too early or too late, for showing up at all half the time.
I apologize for cold pizza and warm beer and shoes strewn across the floor.
I say I’m sorry when I cry in front of my friends and when I laugh too loud. I apologize when I make the conversation too heavy or too light. I say sorry for too many texts or too few.
If I really set my mind to it, I think I could find something to feel sorry for in every decision I make all day long.
And truth be told, I really am sorry.
I’m sorry because I’m afraid of being too much: too early or too late or too loud or too quiet. Too imposing, too involved, too emotional, too reserved.
It’s easy to believe that everyone around me, and probably God too, are disappointed in me and wish I was better.
When I apologize, I’m looking inwardly at my own mess. In fact, I’m so consumed by the mess that I don’t even lift my eyes to see what everyone else thinks of this disaster, because I’m sure I already know.
And so I apologize.
But that’s not what they seem to be seeing.
My friends tell me to stop apologizing. They tell me that they love me. And they seek me out, even when I’m early and late and loud and quiet and emotional and reserved and broken and joyful.
I’m slowly learning to lift my eyes and I’m finding that when I look at those around me, instead of sorry (my default), I want to say thank you.
Thank you for forgiving my lateness and laughing at my earliness.
Thank you for knowing me so well that you see when I need a hug and a cry and you giggle back when I laugh too loud.
Thank you for letting me stay as long as I need, for inviting me into your own mess, for grace that is new every morning,
Thank you for looking at this mess and seeing me instead.
And thank you that when you see me, you see someone you love, just as I see when I look at you.
I’m learning about seeing and sharing and living light this year, and one of the loads I’m casting off is the heaviness of shame.
It seems like gratitude might be the light I’m looking for in that endeavor.
So instead of sorry, I’ll say thank you.
I think it might be what I’ve meant all along.