The phone bounced around in the corner a couple of times before coming to rest on the floor with its battery hanging out of it like the tongue of a dead duck. I had hurled it across the room bringing an abrupt end to a vicious verbal fight with my soon-to-be ex. I am not proud to admit that we were letting fly at each other every nasty word and insult you can imagine, and then some. The fight was the culmination of almost a year of daily battles, both in and out of court. It finally all came to a head in that twenty-minute nasty exchange.The phone was barely in pieces on the floor when I was filled with feelings of regret and shame. I had stooped to the lowest of lows to allow myself to lose control like that. That was not me, and I knew it. All the next day I was walking around with a pit in my stomach, the prior day’s fight replaying over and over in my mind. On the way home from work, I couldn’t take it anymore and I called my ex. I said that, while I stood by the points I had made, I was sorry for saying the mean and nasty things I said. After a long pause, I heard, “Thank you, that means a lot. I am sorry, too.”
Three days later we met in the conference room of a nearby library and in less than an hour ironed out all our differences–something we had failed to do after a year and many thousands in legal fees. Those three simple, yet very powerful, words was all it took to break the logjam of mistrust and anger. While apologizing often takes a great deal of humility, it is the key to overcoming conflict and finding common ground. Give it a shot, you have nothing to lose but your pride.
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. – James 4:6 2007,