Why’d you do it?
Ever lied to someone, and been caught? Been lied to and demanded to know why? How does the explanation benefit the situation, and does it allow others to justify their actions?
Editor’s note: This is more of a rambling of thoughts, rather than a properly formulates article. Please feel free to give feedback and comments on it below.
So I’ve screwed up in my life.
I have hurt people I love, and people I don’t know through my actions, or words. It’s not intentional, but still something I have done. When I realize (or am informed) that I’ve hurt someone I apologize for what I did, and then work hard to make sure I don’t do this again, to them or anyone else.
What always ends up happening after an apology is the following question, “Why did you do it?”
This confuses me. That question seems unbelievably irrelevant. At this point why does it matter? I find that if I give any reason it’s useless. It will only come off as an excuse, and often makes the situation worse. Last thing I want to do is hurt them further. Answering this question with anything feels like an attempt at justifying the wrong action. We try to build up, or change the narrative that we did X for a noble reason.
For example, “Why did you lie about X?”, “To protect your feelings.” Okay, not a great excuse, since honesty is the best policy (Yes, I have lied to protect people’s emotions too). This leads down the path of the individual thinking they are weak, or you’re gas lighting them, and you only hurt them further.
And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more. - John 8:7-11 ESV
I do not believe that stating reasons for why I have done something is ultimately helpful. I screwed up, and need to face the consequences of my actions. Offering some halfhearted pathetic reason as to why I’ve done something, just seems meaningless; when the individual I have harmed is sitting there in pain. Do I continue to hurt them but justifying my actions with some convoluted reasoning? No, hopefully, I’d give them more respect than that.
Allow me to clarify; I am not referring to any of this in a legal sense, nor is this a universal rule. Yes, motive does matter in the eyes of the law and for some, closure isn’t possible until they know why. However, for things like lying, ignoring people, laziness, apathy, cheating, and slights etc. giving “reasons why” just seems like an attempt to validate your actions, and not acknowledge the harm they have caused.
Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness. - Marianne Williamson
It’s simple: I was wrong. I shouldn’t have done that, and will not attempt to rationalize it though excuses. I am sorry for hurting you by doing this, and pray you can forgive me one day.
Does the apology mean I expect them to forgive me? No. That comes with time, patience, actions, and it is up to them – you cannot control it.
Sometimes you can move past it, other times you do not. It is your job to realize you just destroyed – or at the very least damaged - a relationship. They are under no obligation to forgive you, or keep you in their life. In all likelihood they are going to feel a lot of emotions over your actions. You have to live with the consequences of your actions.
While admitting to being the one who has hurt others, I’ve also been the one hurt. In fact, I’ve been cheated on in two relationships. The “reasons why” were simply attempts at justifying their actions – informing me of how it was my fault they cheated. Not something I wanted to hear, nor did it help. Will I ever know their reasons for cheating? No. I don’t need to. This relationship is now irreparable, and over. Have I forgiven them both, yes, but I admittedly get upset over it from time to time.
I don’t have a clear, and full understanding or explanation of this, and please know I am no expert. It’s just to me it feels that “reasons why” are an attempt at diminishing the results of the action. People generally aren’t thrilled with the response, “You’re right, I was wrong, and I am sorry” either, but at least it isn’t an attempt at gas lighting, or disrespecting them further.
In short don't get yourself in the situations to begin with, then this isn't an issue.
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