As a child, I didn’t fully appreciate the little barbecue joint located along the short, daily drive between our house and my grandparents’. We picked up the most amazing sandwiches there: slightly-sweet sauce soaked into smoked, pulled pork with crispy, burnt ends on toasted buns. My grandmother had our turkeys smoked there at Thanksgiving.
As an adult, the pursuit of good barbecue has been a life goal. When we moved to a new part of Atlanta 12 years ago, it took time—years actually—to find a new go-to BBQ restaurant. One day I discovered a promising one on Trip Advisor. Most of the reviews were great, except for one, which was really, really bad.
Ultimately, it was that bad review that convinced us to give them a try.
Not only did the management publicly respond, but they took responsibility for every aspect of the complaint. The manager even reviewed the security tape footage, located the transaction in question, and admitted, “We failed you.”
He didn’t deny or attempt to explain away their mistakes. He owned them. Completely.
Combined with so many favorable reviews, this one convinced us to give them a try. And boy, were we glad! I’d driven past this restaurant many times, forgetting that the best barbecue is often found in dives, attached to gas stations, with a pink pig on the roof.
I try so hard to get it right—to be a good example to my kids or among my friends—that sometimes I forget that the testimony of someone who takes responsibility for their mistakes can be more powerful than the testimony of someone who doesn’t make them in the first place.
Maybe it’s not whether you do the right thing but how you handle it when you mess up.
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)
One of the toughest lessons I’ve learned as a parent is that sometimes my kids’ bad behavior is my fault as much as theirs, especially if I’ve failed to consistently correct a bad habit. I get confused looks when I say, “We’ve got a problem here, and I’ve failed you. I should have stopped this sooner.” I used to think my kids wouldn’t respect or listen to me if they saw my faults, but in my experience we connect better when they see the real me, warts and all.
The same has been with marriage. It is one of the hardest—but most important—areas to admit when you’re wrong. I don’t know about you, but I can be stubborn! It can be awkward to apologize when you’ve wronged or hurt a friend, a spouse, or your kids. Whatever the circumstance, sincerity may be the most important element of an apology.
I don’t know if the restaurant manager’s sincere response to the bad review did any good or if the annoyed customer ever returned. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. But if we fail to take responsibility for our own mistakes or accept an apology, it can affect our most precious and fundamental relationships.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)
Can you think of a time when you tried to hide a mistake that you should have taken responsibility for? Are you good at giving or receiving apologies?Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Our tongues can dole out words dripping with honey or they can cut like a knife. Some of the sweetest words are a truly sincere apology when we are humble enough to own up to our mistakes. So many times I see public figures that go to any length to cover up, rationalize, deny their wrong doings. When someone is brave enough to own up to their mistakes and admit, “I screwed up,” then there’s room for compassion and forgiveness. We may not be “public” figures, but someone (especially our children) is always watching us. Thanks for making me think about what kind of example I’m going to set….
Dawn Camp says
Bev, I love your wisdom here: we allow room for compassion and forgiveness when we own our mistakes. I think we instinctively try to protect ourselves from the repercussions of them, but then we miss the grace.
Anastasia Corbin says
Thank you for sharing this devotional! It’s a powerful reminder to take ownership of our mistakes and not let them weigh us down.
Dawn Camp says
Anastasia, you’re right: it’s a lot of work and weight to carry when we try to cover our mistakes. There is a freedom in acknowledging them.
Tianna K says
Thank you for this Dawn, such truth lies in the testimony of someone who owns up to their mistakes being so much mote relatable, and subsequently impactful, than someone who never errs in life.
Thank you for sharing.
Dawn Camp says
Yes, they are much more relatable, Tianna. Perfection is not relatable—at least not for me!
Greatly said.Yes owning up is more powerful and helpful &hopeful
Dawn, what a true and beautifully written post. I’ve had to take ownership of some things that I would like to forget but you are about it affecting our relationships. Thank you for this message.
Dawn Camp says
I hear you, Mary. We instinctively protect ourselves but that’s not always best for ourselves, our relationships, or our testimony.
Michele Morin says
Coming off all the sub plots of Easter, your words remind me of the main difference (I think) between Judas and Peter. Finding grace to cry and admit his wrong, Peter persevered and went on to do great things for the Kingdom of God. Judas was overcome by his failure and couldn’t go on.
May we always find grace to cry and wait and say we’re sorry so that God can turn our “bad barbecue” failures into something beautiful.
Dawn Camp says
Wow, Michelle. Thank you for this thought-provoking insight!
This was a timely reminder. Great piece. I really enjoyed the analogy of the real life example. The manager truly reflected and investigated what occurred. He was humble and admitted his error. Those are all wonderful principles we can all follow. Sincerity is huge. A begrudging apology isn’t really an apology at all.
Dawn Camp says
We’ve emphasized to our kids that apologies need to be sincere (and you can certainly hear it in their voices when they aren’t!) and that you need to specify the reason for the apology. Not just “I’m sorry,” but “I’m sorry I ate your Skittles,” or whatever the situation may be.
First: What you said to your kids – how brave! I especially love ‘I should’ve stopped this sooner…’. I’d love to hear more about how that played out. And owning our part in our marriages. These are the toughest places to own our part, and yet, the most freeing too, I think.
Second: I’m not sure if I receive an apology well? What does receiving an apology well look like? (I know I’ve had to learn how to receive a compliment, receive love or appreciation…. I haven’t considered receiving an apology well)
Third: Being a 10 year Atlanta transplant myself, I’d love to find the elusive great BBQ place as well – please share!
Thanks for this timely post today.
Dawn Camp says
My kids don’t expect me to take ownership for part of their bad behavior, so it makes them less defensive than if I just pointed the finger at them.
Receiving an apology well means that if you accept it, then you never bring it up again. You don’t throw the mistake back in the other person’s face the next time they mess up or when it suits you. You clean the slate where it’s concerned; you give grace.
This barbecue place is Big D’s in Dawsonville, just past the North Georgia Premium Outlet Mall, at the corner of Hwy. 400 and Hwy. 53 (and yes, it’s a dive connected to a gas station with a pink pig on the roof). 🙂
Pearl Allard says
Dawn, I loved your description of where good BBQ is often found and it gives me hope that if my life looks like it’s attached to a gas station, with a pink pig on top, I don’t need to despair. 🙂 So thankful that while I’m always in the messy process of being made more like Him, I’m not called to be amazing – that’s God’s job!
Dawn Camp says
Amen, sister! Sometimes the best things don’t look like much from outward appearances. 🙂
Beth Williams says
Marriage is tough. The evil one is on the prowl seeking to destroy whom he may. My hubby & I are always apologizing for our faults. We own our mistakes & work hard to keep this marriage going. We as Christians need to show the world how to handle mistakes. Don’t try to hid what you did-own it & make restitution. It shows the world a different kind person.
Children need to know that their parent are human also. They make mistakes just like them. It is refreshing to have adults admit their faults and show us they are human. We all get tired of the lies & cover ups of those public figures. They should be representing the good in people & instead show that it’s ok to lie & cover it up. Not the Christian way of living.
God will forgive us if we confess our sins/transgression to Him. Let’s teach our children to own their faults.
Lynn D. Morrissey says
Thank you for writing this, Dawn . . . such a needed perspective in this world of public discourse where hubris and braggadocio abound. People (especially our politicians, it seems) like to look good, and will go to any lengths to do so. When they are caught say, in a lie, rather than humbly, sincerely admit it and apologize, they brag all the louder and justify themselves, and in essence, lie all over again. It’s hard to admit when we are wrong first to ourselves, much less to others. But when we do, when we apologize for our mistakes (confess and admit our sins, if indeed that is what they are), we create a climate of trust and reconciliation. I remember apologizing once to our church secretary for my hypocrisy. I did not mince words, wrote her a letter of apology, and went in person to deliver it. There was no excuse for my awful behavior. The result? She immediately and generously offered me her forgiveness and cradled me, as I cried, in her arms. We’d restore broken relationships if we did as you suggest, and we would be right with God as well. Thank you so much for sharing!
Let me just say that I could write an entire book, (and I’m actually thinking about it) regarding this subject. I used to feel like such s failure because of a multitude of MAJOR mistakes and the huge amount of effort it took to cover them up, or in some cases attempt to justify them!
Anyway, through the Still, Small voice of God, I learned that owning up to my mistakes was not only the right thing to do, but all a part of my testimony.
Thanks for your post!
Diana F says
Dawn, a beautiful story to exemplify this very truth which comes to us through the words of God. So needed in our culture today as an unfortunate philosophy has permeated the hearts of many, especially men. The saying, “Never apologize, it’s a sign of weakness” may have been out there before my generation, but it was highlighted in my youth by John Wayne using this very verbage in movies of that time (yes, telling my age!). And again, for those who enjoy watching NCIS, Jethro Gibbs repeated this saying numerous times. Apologizing to someone who has embraced such a philosophy keeps the apology at bay. I have personally experienced this receiving an annoyed push-back and actually have had the above saying quoted to me. Yet, I believe what you have described is really the best way to live. I pray often for wisdom in how to walk this way in the presence of one who has embraced the above. It’s my prayer for this infecting lie be exposed and repented of so that the healing of the relationship can go forward. God sees and has the power to do the impossible so I will persist in prayer. In fact this very blog has reminded me to lift this up again today. For this I am very grateful! Pray with me?
Becky Keife says
This is so good, Dawn! God has been showing me lately the fertile soil of “I’m sorry.” It’s been powerful in my kids’ lives and I want to grow in this area of being quick to own my mistakes. Thanks for the encouragement!
Kim Greene says
This could not have been more timely for me. I’ve always been pretty good about owning my mistakes and doing my best to correct them, but I’ve been known to wallow in them a bit too much. Today, when I made a pretty big one, I prayed, “Lord, help me feel you near in this” rather then my usual “Lord, get me out of this.” I regret the mistake, but, to play on the words of John Mark McMillan, I’m not taking any more time to maintain it.
Diane Thiel says
It is with remorse I go to one I hurt and to God For redemption and forgiveness. Thank you for your message of hope