I’m Sorry

by DanWolgemuth on March 23, 2007

He actually did it. The woman in 1C moved to the front of the airplane where she lingered for a few moments too long. The flight attendant insisted that she return to her seat, and as if a trigger had been pulled, she spouted terse, inflammatory and dismissive language at him while she returned to her seat. He returned to filling drink glasses for distribution to the passengers on flight 819. She sat in her seat, neck flushed, non-verbally reflecting her disgust.

Ten minutes later, he approached her. She was still in 1C. He leaned over so that he could address her at eye level and said, “I’m sorry about our interaction earlier.” He didn’t qualify the statement with a “but;” in fact, he didn’t water down the statement at all. From my vantage point in seat 2D, I could see the whiplash on her face. When he had approached, she had recoiled. I’m sure that she was ready for a confrontation, for round 2, and what she received instead was humility. In 40 years of travel, I’ve never witnessed anything like it.

“I’m sorry” breathed life into a relational corpse. Humility extinguished what lightening had ignited. And when that happened, just moments after it did, this brusque woman, returned the volley, “I’m sorry too,” she said, with real sincerity.

It was a fragment of life. A moment. Interaction between two disconnected lives that will likely never intersect again, but for some reason, this woman, reconciliation, and an apology mattered to this flight attendant, and it was moving and inspirational.

Repentance, an authentic change of heart, is powerful. It cuts across the grain of ego. It marches against the current of self-righteousness and vindication. Only to submit.

It confesses without manipulation.

It’s so hard.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. ~ James 5:16

And so I stopped on my way out the door. I shook his hand. I told him that I noticed. I told him that I thought it was noteworthy and valiant. I wanted to drink deeply of what I had witnessed at the front of a Boeing 737 bound for Denver.

Lesson learned, now it’s my turn. Powerful words, transformational results.

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