About the Author

Mary is a writer and speaker who lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons – but lives because of God’s grace. She writes about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places at MaryCarver.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

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  1. I absolutely love this! It is perfect for today. Thank you for reminding us whose we are and that we are indeed loved. Thank you for encouraging us to strive to work hard, not be ashamed, and speak truth. God Bless!

  2. Great insight. So true, but I had never noticed the intensity or frequency of “I’m sorry” before reading this. Thank you for bringing it to light.

  3. I’m gonna be hypersensitive to the I’m sorrys now. ;~) But oh the grace available to us & each other! Don’t apologize for being human for in our humanity we see how awesome & great is God! Thank you for this wonderful encouragement/challenge! Blessings!

  4. I’m from Canada and the number one thing we say is “I’m sorry”. Has nothing to do with inferior work …we’re just super polite!!

    • Yes, I’ve heard this about Canadians! It seems as if you all might use “I’m sorry” in a much different way than we do. So interesting!

  5. Thanks so much for this thoughtful insight, Mary. Goodness, I will apologize to a door if I bump into it! And I realize my daughter says this often, as well. It’s been handed down through the generations! It’s time for a pact… No more “I’m sorry” for daily, human, silly things; it’s only for real hurt we might cause each other, knowing forgiveness and grace are readily available.

    • Yessss – a pact sounds brilliant! And I think you’re onto something else: when we overuse and misuse the phrase, “I’m sorry,” it starts to lose its effect when we actually hurt one another. Here’s to breaking this cycle!

  6. Thanks for sharing your perspective, Mary. I totally agree that we shouldn’t use “I’m sorry” so often that it becomes empty apologies. And we shouldn’t live in shame, but should receive the grace and love of God which covers our sins. Your conclusion was beautifully said!

    But, I wonder if it’s because I live in another state with a different culture, because I’ve noticed the opposite with the use of “I’m sorry,” especially in the church. In my experience, many people have a hard time saying it. But a simple, “I’m sorry,” means so much! It shows humility and can open doors for communication. It accepts responsibility and gives room to the other person to accept responsibility for their own mistakes or sins.

    I bring this up, because I noticed it recently when I lost a close friend. I thought we were working through some disagreements, but in the end there was an unwillingness on her part to work through those. I’d noticed before that she had never said I’m sorry for other silly little things. It had struck me, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I knew her love for God, so I didn’t need to hear an “I’m sorry” as much as see a willingness to listen to me. Looking back, I now see that I’m not sure there was ever an accepting of responsibility for her own mistakes. It also made me look back at other experiences I’ve had in relationships gone awry, especially those in the church, and everyone of those were with a person who had not accepted responsibility for their own sins. Sadly, in those relationships, when I confessed my own sins and gave an apology, my apology wasn’t truly received by the person. There was also no acceptance of their own wrongdoing.

    So yes, I agree we don’t need to apologize for who we are and live in shame. We shouldn’t say “I’m sorry” every time we turn around. But we should be quick to say “I’m sorry” when we see a failure on our part, especially when someone comes to us when offended. We don’t need to grovel and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be shamed, but so many problems can be resolved with a sincere, “I’m sorry,” even if we didn’t mean the offense. And after we’ve said, “I’m sorry,” we should receive the forgiveness of God even if it isn’t given from the other person. Then, be full of grace toward others.

    • Awesome, the worse of it is when you even do apologise and the freind still bear grudges and you see the relationship gradually dieing because of unforgiveness. Its really difficult to live the life of christ that we preach.

    • Amen-agree. And I believe that perpetual lateness IS a ‘sorry’ situation, as well as chronic sarcasm.

    • Jacqui, thank you for sharing your heart and part of your story here. I can understand your hurt in the situation you described and agree that when we have genuinely hurt another, a sincere apology shows that we care and also that we value the relationship. You’re spot on about that.

  7. Oh my gosh, Mary! This is so profound! I hear so many sorry’s all the time! And sometimes I feel like putting my hands on someone’s shoulders (not during this Covid outbreak) and saying, “You don’t have to apologize for taking up this space. You are important!”. But I don’t. Generally. Thank you for saying this. And I will watch my own “sorry’s”.

    • Yes, Irene – I often need someone to give my shoulders a shake (literal or not) and remind me that I don’t need to apologize for taking up space! We can all learn from each other on this one, for sure!

  8. Excellent Mary. Well said. I am the type of person who feels I have to apologize just for being me. People would say why do you that. No matter what it is. That is who I am. So I end up saying sorry it annoys you. I not do it again. See I have learning Disability plus other problems. I do things with out thinking. Then people some times ask me. Not to do it again. I just say sorry I did that thing and it’s annoyed you. I read Mary what you said. You are so right I shouldn’t have to apologise for that being part of me. Who I am. I should just say. I try not to do it again. Especially if the person doesn’t know I have a learning Disability or other problems. That make me do things I don’t know I am doing. That annoy other people. As there are people out there in our world. That I know even if I did something that annoyed them. Told them the truth. I have a learning Disability. Plus I other problems. I do things I don’t know I am doing them. They some people still don’t understand me. They don’t live in my world and see things from were I am coming from. They can say Dawn try harder not to do it again. Your annoying me. Doing that. Stop it. Or even if I tell them the things that are wrong with me. They some people just look at me. Say yes I believe you have these problems. Behind it I know they don’t believe me. They say to themselves. Dawn doing it again. I have and have always done this from I was child. Go into a world if you know what I mean. Of my wone a daze. I don’t know I am doing this. I have been told I do this. I then start to hum. Are make silly noises. They are of nothing just sounds. Not a song or words. I don’t do I it. I don’t it that loud. But I keep on doing it. So many times a day. My Husband is so used to it he passes no remarks on it. But I have in the past been told. Dawn stop making that humming noise. It annoying me. By other people. Then I say sorry. To them for doing it. I say I will try not to do it again. Then with in 5 minutes. I doing it again but I don’t know I am doing. They can get mad at me. Say Dawn please stop that little noise you make. It getting on my nerves. I my late Mum would say when alive. Dawn is happy because she in a daze and making her humming noise again. I can see why it would be very annoying with me doing that. That doesn’t really know me that well. So sometimes. I have to explain that I didn’t know I was doing that. That is one problem I had all my life. They may believe me and they may not. But I have in the had people who believe me. They say Dawn oh that ok. Or they said Dawn’s happy she in daze doing her humming noises again. I say I will try that is all I can do. But most of the people I end up saying sorry to them. Then I will try not and do it again. But it happens again. Without me realising I am doing it. Making the humming noise. So that is who I am. God loves me no matter what. Humming noise and all. What you said Mary has spoke to me. I should stop saying sorry for who I am. For making that humming sound. I should just tell those people who don’t understand why I do it make the humming noise. If they don’t believe me. That is ok. Not say sorry for doing it I will try not to do it again. Then leave it at that. As I have nothing to apologise for. Or say sorry for when that is who I am. God loves me and my humming noise. People if they loved me they would accept me humming noise and all. Love me like Jesus does. Say to themselves. That is who Dawn is. She doesn’t know she is doing it. So I will expect Dawn for that. Love Dawn for all her other lovely talents. Plus Love her the way God does. Try not to let it annoy me. If they know me. But I have been told in the past. Dawn don’t let annoy you. That you do the humming noise you don’t know you are doing it. Don’t stop you being the beautiful person God made you to be and wants you to be. Theses people that say nice things like that to me. Do care about me. Like Jesus does. As I have in the past let this get too me. That it annoys some people. Me making the humming noise. I don’t know I am doing. As if I knew I was doing it I stop or try hard to stop doing it. God has said me in the past. Dawn you are you. They are them. If they accept that is part of you good. If not don’t let it annoy you. Remember what matter is what I God think of you. No people. Just let them be annoyed. Even if you try to explain to them that you don’t know you do it. It still annoys them. Thank you Mary for sharing you story on sorry. Why do we say it when don’t have too apologise for being us. No matter what it is. People I say have to remember we are all different. God made us different. We do things that annoy people. But we shouldn’t have to apologise for being who we are. By saying sorry. Unless it a sorry for doing something we shouldn’t have. Or we hurt someone with our words etc. Then we need to say sorry in those cases. So thank Again Mary you made me see things in God’s light. That I shouldn’t keep saying sorry for being me. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little Enniskillen Co.Fermanagh. N.Ireland xx

    • Dawn, you are so loved. Just as you are. I’m so sad that you’ve felt the need to apologize for who you are, but I promise you that God loves you exactly the way you are. After all, He made you that way! It can be so hard to resist feeling sorry for who and how we are, and we can be so tempted to apologize for the parts of ourselves that others find difficult. But you are wonderful and cherished by the Almighty God, every single part of you. I’m praying you feel God’s delight in you today.

  9. Great reminder that words have meaning and that when we speak we should be intentional and not just speak to hear our heads rattle, as my dad used to say.

    We all tend to rely on phrases rather than words well thought and intended. Thank you for your well thought and intended words. Reminds me that people really do listen and we should not speak carelessly.

    • Ooooh, Loretta, you make such a great point! Many of us (myself included) definitely talk just to talk and forget to be careful with our words. Thank you for your reminder about that!

  10. I wonder if this is a female thing? And are we raising our daughters to continue in our path of assuming we are at fault? My daughter, her boyfriend and I have had this discussion recently about cultures raising girls to be nice no matter what and how I tried to empower my daughter not to feel the weight of that. When I worked as a school counselor, I tried to do the same with all students especially when we discussed personal safety. Apologize when it’s appropriate, but we need to teach our little ones that when someone tries to hurt us, we need not say sorry. And as tempted as I am to say sorry for getting on my soap box, I am going to refrain.

    • Yes, it’s absolutely more a female thing! I remember when I was in high school (just a couple decades ago!), my mom showed an article to my best friend and me about research that had been done on this topic. It showed that women FOR SURE apologize more than men, and often when they have no valid reason to do so. I’m glad you got on your soap box about this; I’m right there with you!

  11. Mary this was an absolutely wonderful reminder that we are meant to be real not “nice” and perfect. I remember an experiment someone did years ago at Stanford where they put a chair in the middle of a busy college hallway and then secretly filmed people’s reactions to bumping into it. Almost universally women who bumped into it apologized to the chair or air around it whereas men said things like “who put the chair here?” and either moved it or said an expletive and moved on. I think the whole apology ‘thing” comes out of the expectation that girls are meant to be perfect etc. It is part of our want to please and be liked but what the world has us sacrifice is our humanity and unique qualities to achieve worldly expectations. Christ came to set us free from all expectations but His. Loved this- thank you. Bev

    • Bev! This is all so fascinating! Both that experiment and your point that this problem stems from society’s expectation that women meet unrealistic (perfect) standards. I’m going to be thinking about what you said here for a while!

  12. Awesome, the worse of it is when you even do apologise and the freind still bear grudges and you see the relationship gradually dieing because of unforgiveness. Its really difficult to live the life of christ that we preach.

    • Stella, you are so right. That can be a really hard situation to work through. And yes, it’s really hard to practice what we preach (or practice what Jesus preached!). Praying you feel God’s love and presence today.

  13. Mary,

    My husband is a constant “I’m sorry” person. I ask him “what are you sorry for?” If he says nothing I tell him don’t apologize. Deep down he may be sorry for things, but if you can’t name them don’t say it. Just be the wonderful Christian husband God created you to be. We must remember that we are fearfully & wonderfully created in the Image of Almighty God. Quit apologizing for who you are & just Do your best. Work hard. Do not be ashamed. Speak the truth. God will handle the rest.

    Blessings 🙂