The Power of “I’m Sorry”

We have been friends with Andrew for many years. We met during my first summer in the US and hit it off right there. Andrew is 14 years older than me but we had a lot to talk about – music and technology were the two main things.

It was 2001 and I remember us listening to Grateful Dead and downloading dance tracks for me via Napster.

Around 2010, we went into an online business together. Things started off nicely and we’ve been doing some progress, but after a while, tensions began to grow between us.

Andrew insisted that we should be moving faster and trying different marketing techniques, and I maintained that we should be keeping our focus.

Then, the catastrophe happened.

One day, I ran some ads in Andrew’s Google AdWords account without getting Andrew’s approval. It turned out that the ads were against Google’s policies, and the account was banned.

Andrew was devastated. Not only was AdWords our chief source of traffic, but Google normally bans for lifetime and Andrew was afraid that the ban would put an end to his marketing efforts altogether.

I became defensive and refused to acknowledge my mistake. We sold our business for around $5,000 and split the proceeds.

We never talked afterwards.

This whole thing was very hard for me. You know, Liv, you will only have that many truly meaningful relationships in your life. Friendships take long time to develop. Losing a long-time friend is like cutting a tree that you planted and have enjoyed for years.

And yet, my pride kept me from reaching out to Andrew. It was fear, too: What if he refused to accept my apology?

Now, we have this tradition in our family where we watch Home Alone around Christmas time. Home Alone is a great comedy, but it’s also a profound story of forgiveness.

Remember this scene with Kevin and Old Man Marley? Marley had a quarrel with his son years ago, and now he is cut off from his son’s family and his granddaughter. About the only time he can see her is during her rehearsals with the church choir on Christmas eve.

Old Man Marley

Every time I watched that scene, I remembered my quarrel with Andrew. And yet, I was still finding myself unable to step over my pride.

A few years later, I was preparing for a church confession and was going through an examination of conscience. It’s a very powerful exercise where you take a deep and honest look inside yourself to recall your sins.

One of the questions in the examination had to do with forgiveness. If I were to be 100% honest, I had to mention my inability to reconcile with Andrew to the priest, which I did during the confession.

The priest didn’t explicitly tell me to do anything about the situation. But then and there, I decided that I would reach out to Andrew.

It turned out to be one of the wisest things I had done in my life.

Andrew was really happy to hear from me, and it turned out that he had missed our friendship just as much. We had been able to put the past behind us and we keep in touch regularly just as before.

Was it God who helped me to finally take that step? Was it Home Alone? I don’t know. But I do know, Liv, that very few things in life are worth living in regret. Step over that pride and challenge that fear, and don’t be afraid to say, “I’m sorry.”

Because those meaningful relationships in your life are too precious.