Strangers and the Art of Apologizing

“Mama,” my daughter will say, “where did you learn how to apologize?” I’ll chuckle at her question, because it was the question I probed out of so many people in my young twenties out of desperation of trying to understand the world better.

“This one time, I was in this really dark, sad place and I went to the store at nine o’clock at night. While I was checking out, there was a man who was buying stuff for himself, off of the money he received from strangers that day. I was in no mood, exhausted and afraid to be alone for the night, so when this guy who was my age, named Matt, walked by me, I forgot to smile at him. I eavesdropped in their conversation, in which Matt gave the homeless man seven dollars, his extra spare change from his own trip. The receiving man, thanked him and shook his hand. As we continued to check out, I refused to look at Matt or the exchange, embarrassed by my own attitude. After he left, the man just kept shaking his head saying, “God is real man. God is so real.” I was so moved by what had happened right beside me, that I called Luke and I apologized for my poor attitude. I apologized for not being a servant of the Lord even when my heart was broken and hurting. I apologized for not being my best self.”

I will relay this story to her as one of the many times I was taught how to apologize. How if you look and listen hard enough, strangers will teach you the best of humanity. We get so caught up in our own wrong doings. Or own heartaches that we forget to just be an observer. When you observe, you learn.

“When I was twenty-two,” I will begin to conclude, “I learned how to apologize from strangers because I was at a point in my life where I trusted strangers more, than myself. Than the ones I loved.”

Drawing her near, I will kiss her on the top of her head and thank her for just a great question. And then, she will ask what does “lm,” mean, referring to my necklace.

“Does it stand for lemon?” trying to make a connection between my favorite fruit and why would I have random letters writing across a bar that hung around my neck every day.

And I will distract her from not receiving an answer from me, by asking if she wants one small piece of sweets although it will spoil her dinner.