How to Apologize by Bro Duncan PBGV

Bro Duncan PBGV gives his advice
Bro Duncan PBGV gives his advice

It’s been a hot, sticky week, and if all human beans are like Them, there will have been some awkward moments when toes have been trodden on, misunderstandings have multiplied and typhoons in tea-cups have rattled the domestic calm. So here is a little lesson in how to apologize by one who is an expert in the subject. I seem to have to say sorry so often — for muddy paw-prints on the floor; positioning myself beside the oven when food is being taken from it; not hearing when I’m called; you know the kind of thing human beans get cross about. My eyes and tail are very eloquent when I have to say sorry, but human beans have to make do with mere words, which often seem to make things worse. So here are a few pointers from me you may find useful the next time you have to apologize.

Let’s begin with what we all know best: how to get it wrong. There are a few phrases you should try very hard to avoid or you may find yourself in the dog-house for ever.

The Wrong Way To Apologize

  • I apologize for any offence that may have been caused.
  • I’m sorry if you were offended.
  • I’m sorry if you found what I said or did offensive.
  • I’m sorry if I offended you.

All that ‘iffiness’ is unconvincing. Before we apologize, we have to acknowledge that we have done something wrong, even if we gave offence unintentionally. For some human beans that is almost an impossibility. ‘I have been misunderstood,’ they cry, or, ‘you must have had a humour by-pass,’ they say, as though the offence were somehow the fault of the one to whom the apology is due. Such apologies don’t usually end very well, believe me. No, you have to (wo)man-up to things and face facts, however hard that may be.

Then there are all those clever little additions which tend to undermine the apology — limitation clauses such as

  • In my defence, it was not entirely my fault (Calculating exact degrees of culpability probably won’t restore harmony.)
  • You can’t blame me for not knowing (But are you sure — shouldn’t you have known?)
  • It was the dog/the boss/Eve (i.e. Blame anyone but me—I’m the victim here. Not a good tactic.)
  • I was only doing what I was told. (Unfortunately, the excuse of mass-murderers and the like. Not recommended.)

or attempts to claim the moral high-ground with phrases like

  • Christian charity forbids my saying more. (Christian charity is probably what was wanting in the first place.)
  • I acted from the purest of motives but . . . (Possibly you did; more probably you didn’t.)

Contrast all these with

The Right Way to Apologize

  • I’m sorry.

Now, I know I am only a dog, but it seems to me that a simple ‘I’m sorry’ is the best apology there is. No ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’, please; no self-justifying rehearsal of the original grievance by way of exculpation; no attempt to wriggle out of things by blaming someone else, the medicine you have to take or the weather being too hot/too cold. If you’re sorry, say so — as simply and quickly as you can; then do your best to put things right.

But what if you can’t say sorry or put things right? Say the human bean you have injured is now dead, for example, or refuses to have anything to do with you? Then I think you must put your paws together and ask God to do what you cannot. He knows about forgiveness, after all. He doesn’t want you to be burdened with feelings of false guilt and shame. He wants you to be what he intended you to be from the beginning— a true image and likeness of himself — and he wants the other human bean to be like that, too. That doesn’t quite let you off the hook, of course. You have to try to put things right, if you can. Don’t use prayer as an excuse for not doing something you find difficult or don’t really want to do.

Lastly, I will let you into a BIG secret. We dogs share a very wonderful quality with our Creator. We forgive utterly. That doesn’t mean we don’t register unkindness or unfairness, or that we don’t consider them important. It’s simply that we don’t hold grudges or prolong quarrels. So, if you are having trouble apologizing, just try being more doggy. It won’t necessarily make everything better all at once, but it may open you up to becoming the human bean you are meant to be; and that will result in your becoming much nicer — nice enough, even, to be owned by a PBGV.* 😉

Dunc xx

*P.S. I’m still working on Them. They have a long way to go to becoming nice, but it’s my vocation, and I enjoy a challenge.

P.P. S. The community retreat begins tonight, Saturday, 11 June, and last until Saturday, 18 June. Please keep Them in your prayers as They will keep you.


10 thoughts on “How to Apologize by Bro Duncan PBGV”

  1. Thank you so much for your thoughts and wise words, Bro Duncan. Being genuinely sorry does take prayer and courage and when done well is a huge relief to both sides.

  2. Woof woof! I’m on a similar mission wiv my mum. She’s a work in progress just like Them. I’ll keep my paws together for the community retreat, for you, Them and also for my mum.

  3. The sometimes misspelling of Dog as God and God as Dog could well be applied to this post.

    Wisdom is a She in the Bible, but you are obviously, her twin Brother.

    Thank you for such gentle wisdom and I suspect that all of us here, wish we had a tail to wag, a wet nose and that ability to look worthy, in fact, being more Dog than our attempts at being God.

  4. Wonderful insight Brother Duncan – much for me to ponder here.
    God’s blessings and my prayers for your community retreat.

  5. A poem for some dear friends (hope you like it).

    Woman and Dog by Petra White

    A woman and a dog walked all day
    beside the non-moving canal.
    People who walk dogs displace themselves:

    the dog sniffs and leads, harnesses
    a human soul, spirit and flesh
    willing or not. Its human-dog eyes

    cradle the walkable world – a happy place –
    a brimming here-and-yet. The canal
    neither followed nor lagged behind.

    There was the simplified world, on either side, green
    fields and red houses. There was the little pub
    they always got to.

    So long they trudged, two bodies and one
    soul, so many miles,
    the paws began to bleed.

    Little flecks of ruby blood glittered the black
    rubbery pads, as if the dog was inking out
    all the sadness of the woman.

    And the woman, being just strong enough,
    gathered up the dog (not a small one)
    and carried it all the way home, wherever that was.

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