I always go back to the summer with tennis courts and milkshakes. That was years before the pride and silence broke our hearts.
I remember the day we drove to get sushi and the rhythm you nervously tapped out on the steering wheel. You said something about dogs, I pretended to laugh. My mind was blank that day. I wrung my hands and stared out the window. I didn’t have the words I needed.
All these years and I can still never find the right words and that’s coming from someone who has filled up pages and pages of journals in her lifetime.
I’ve never had the right words for you. And by now, I think I’ve apologized for that a million times.
But you can only say I’m sorry to someone so many times before you realize that what you’re actually looking for is the freedom to forgive yourself.
You think you’re looking for that person to tell you it’s okay, but even if they said it a million times over, you would never hear it. Your constant need to keep going back to say I’m sorry comes from the fact that you have not stopped punishing yourself for being human.
You’re human. You said you were sorry. You meant it. You are allowed to live.
Stop punishing yourself.
You don’t have to sit in misery, unmoving, afraid to live, and waiting for that person to forgive you, or waiting for them to apologize for their part.
You can’t pay the debt you owe each other, so stop trying. Stop thinking that eventually you will have served your time and that’s when everyone gets to be free.
And stop making others serve time. Learn how to quickly say, “I’m choosing to let it go.”
Sometimes, saying and being sincerely sorry is all we humans have. You can’t change the past between you and that person, and you won’t make up for it by ruining your own future or asking them to postpone theirs.
You get to live. Not after everyone serves time and suffers for the hand of hurt they played. You get to live freely when you’ve offered your truest and most sincere apology, when you’ve extended your heart in all the ways you know how.
And maybe the other person isn’t willing to let go. Maybe they’ll never be sorry. Maybe they’re still trying to pull levers and cash in on the years of guilt they’ve thrown on your shoulders.
But eventually, you’ve got to stop digging in your pockets and giving them all the things you’ll ever hold. Stop handing over your present and your future to the unforgiving people of your past.
You said you were sorry and you’re released. Stop trying to pay it. You can’t change it and you can’t go back to days of tennis courts and milkshakes. The blueprints for the life you tried to build just don’t work anymore.
Stop living in the past. Pack up the memories of beach houses, early summer evenings in the kitchen, the table by the window, eating peanuts in old wooden chairs, the regret of never having the right words.
God’s not up there trying to figure out ways to make you pay it all back. Offer your apology, offer your heart, and give God the rest of the debt. He’s the only one who could ever pay it back anyways.
And whatever others may owe you, whatever you think you need from them, just know that God’s in the business of wanting to pay off their debt too.
We’re all just humans in need of a God who owns it all and is so incredibly generous.
He really is the only one who could ever make up for all the words we never got to hear and for the ones we never quite knew how to say.