Summer comes with many benefits: more time to relax, travel, go to the beach, or simply enjoy the sunshine outside on the deck or porch or terrace or in a park. This can also mean more time to read a good book and this month I’ll be sharing a few five-star recommendations from my summer reading. I’ve called this mini round-up “Beach reading for the soul” even though the two books don’t directly address our relationship with God. Instead, they focus on our relationships with other people–which is also a key aspect of our soul. Six of the Ten Commandments, and the second great commandment of Jesus deal with how we relate to those around us. Following Jesus includes loving the people in our lives, and these two books help us as we seek to become more like Him who loves perfectly.
The first book is “When Sorry Isn’t Enough” by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas.
Here are a few questions that will help you decide whether you want to read this life-changing book:
*Have you ever needed to apologize to someone?
*Has someone ever needed to apologize to you?
*Have you ever apologized to someone but your apology didn’t seem to make a difference to the person?
*Has someone ever apologized to you but it didn’t seem adequate to you?
Yes? Then this is the book for you.
Following his Five Love Languages approach, Chapman and his co-author Thomas discuss five different styles of apologizing:
* “I’m sorry”
* “I was wrong”
* Asking for forgiveness
Now that you know the five styles, you might be tempted to think you don’t really need to read the book. However, as we are all aware, just because we know something doesn’t mean we put it into practice. And our knowledge tends to be me-focused. I know what works for me, and I generally think that should be true for everyone else too. I often fail to take into account that other people are wired very differently and have different needs.
That’s one reason why this book is so profound. As Chapman showed with the five love languages, if you really want to affect the other person, you need to understand how best to communicate with them. Whether you are trying to express love or trying to apologize, you can end up wondering why the other person doesn’t appreciate your efforts. It’s like talking in Chinese to someone who is fluent in Arabic. A lot will get lost in translation.
The book comes with a form you can fill in to discover your own apology language[s]. There’s also a free online version available [see link below]. I’d definitely recommend doing this. Answering the questions helped me gain greater understanding of how the different apology approaches can effect different people.
Another valuable part of the book is all the powerful real-life stories of people who have wrestled with apology and being reconciled. It’s very helpful to read how other people have struggled to deal with the hurts and offenses that are bound to come into relationships. The material also gave me fresh insight into my relationships. In one case, it prompted me to apologize to someone for what I had done decades ago. The person and I have had a great relationship for some time now, but my apology made a real difference to them and it brought us even closer.
Along with the great examples, each apology style comes with a list of specifics statements you can use when you apologize. For example:
“‘I’m sorry that I was so insensitive. I am sorry that I violated your trust. I’ve created a roadblock in our relationship that I want to remove. I understand that even after I apologize, it may take awhile for you to venture down the road of trust with me again.'”
I found having these written down in black and white was a real help. Just as we need to practice speaking a foreign language, we may have to spend some time practicing how to apologize. There’s also a very helpful list of what *not* to say when apologizing.
I read the book on the plane as I traveled to the states.
As we flew over the ocean, I was reminded of God’s approach to forgiveness:
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12
And outside my window was an illustration of how He loves us:
For Your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
The book is an easy read. I finished it well before we landed. But I’m going to be applying it for the rest of my life. As the parable of the unmerciful servant teaches, if I am going to follow Jesus, I need to practice giving and receiving forgiveness. The book is an indispensable resource for that and I’d recommend it everyone.