I found myself thinking about this a great deal. We do make mistakes. We do break things in other people and break relationships and break hearts, etc. Sometimes this is done with malice and intention, but I don't think that's the norm. We are human and we mess up and people get hurt. Even when we are careful, even when we are thoughtful and strive to be loving, we make mistakes and people get hurt. On the other side of this coin, loving means risking, so things in us will get broken; our hearts, as I said in an earlier post this week, will be broken. All of us will do damage, experience damage, make mistakes, and have mistakes made in our direction that injure us.
So is the point of this little illustration that saying sorry is pointless, meaningless, and does no good? I don't think so. I do think starting with "I'm sorry", especially when it is a genuine feeling can go a long way. But perhaps the point is that it just isn't enough. Making amends means taking it to the next step. What can we do to help heal the brokenness in one another? How can we be part of putting the plate that is another person's feelings, ego, pride, or sense of self back together? That may look like conversations, listening to the damage we have really done and being willing to hear it, sit with it, address it. Sometimes it means something different. And sometimes there is nothing we can do except pray. Sometimes, if the plate is a relationship, it is broken into so many pieces that it simply can't be mended. There can be healing in letting it go just as there is healing in choosing to work it through. We also have to recognize that even when the plate is mended, it will never be the same. Often the glue that puts it back together makes those places, those joints, those broken lines stronger than they ever were before. But the lines, the scars remain and forever change the face of the plate. And sometimes the plate is so damaged that rebuilding it looks like making something entirely different. But the different thing can be even more beautiful if we are committed to working and making and creating it together.
Of course the obvious second lesson is that we do need to be aware, to think, and to strive to not do such damage in the first place. But again, it is not realistic to expect that we will never hurt one another. The deeper we go in relationship with one another, the more chances for pain and the deeper the hurts when they come. That's part of being human.
We start healing by recognizing that we have done serious damage, whether we meant to or not. We start healing by seeing the breaks, and not just apologizing for them but offering to help mend them. We start the healing by recognizing that the damage done means that the design has changed. We start healing by envisioning new designs together that can be even more beautiful, scars and all.