A Different "Sorry"

February 10, 2014

Martha Spong

"A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." - Psalm 51:17b

My mother taught me that, contrary to Love Story, love means always having to say you're sorry. So I say "I'm sorry" a lot. (Just ask my family.) I have become a master of the defensive "sorry" that really means, "Please, tell me it wasn't my fault!" I apologize for not knowing things I could never have known. I say I'm sorry for pretty much everything, even when I'm not.

Psalm 51 teaches us a different "sorry." A contrite heart is not just broken; it is broken open. We feel it when we own our disconnection from God. We feel it when we regret the inaction in our lives or admit our violation of another person.  A contrite heart wants things to be different, genuinely different, going forward.

God knows the difference. God waits for us at the place where healing occurs, where the oil of forgiveness can spread into all the cracks of our brokenness, where the water of new life washes away any feeling of being soiled, the place where we really, truly mean our "sorry."

Any limitation on forgiveness is not God's; it's ours. All we have to do is tell God where we feel broken. 


Holy God, forgive me for the times my "sorry" breezed right by. I hope you hear a different "sorry" now, a heart made contrite by the love I feel and by the love you give. Amen.

About the Author
Martha Spong is a UCC pastor and Director of RevGalBlogPals, an ecumenical ministry providing support and resources to clergywomen. She blogs at Reflectionary.

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