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Athlete Blog: The Freedom in Apologizing

CECBFUSWMAA-o0t“I am sorry. “

“I really messed up and was a jerk.”

“I screwed up.”

“Dangit, I did it again, I apologize.”

“I hope you will forgive me.”

These are words that regularly come out of my mouth, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. I wish I didn’t have to apologize nearly as much as I do. The truth is it happens way more than I care to admit. But guess what? I am one messed up, prideful, sinful human being. I will be apologizing until the day I die. I can’t wait to get to heaven and never have to apologize again. I’ve actually never really thought of that, until just now. Have you? Apologizing means something bad has happened. Since nothing bad will ever happen in heaven, there won’t be any apologizing. Man, that’s cool.

Do you ever try to make other people think that you have it all together? Do you ever put a mask on or pretend that everything is hunky dory when, on the inside, you’re literally clinging on to anything you can just to stay afloat? I do this all the time. But why? Why do I self-impose the need to pretend that I have it all together when no one has it all together? No one is without struggle or tribulation. It’s a part of life.

I just signed to play for the Carolina RailHawks of the North American Soccer League (NASL) in 2015. This will be my ninth year as a professional soccer player. All glory to God! My family and I have considered Raleigh, North Carolina, “home” for quite some time now, and to actually say that I’ll be playing at home for the first time in my professional career is such an amazing feeling! Things have really come full-circle for me. No pressure, right? Or at least that’s how I’m supposed to feel as my soccer career is settling down.

I tend to be an all or nothing kind of guy. I absolutely want to win anything and everything (sometimes at all costs).  I don’t care if it’s Ping-Pong with my grandma—I want to win. And this is where I tend to get into some trouble. I wish I could relax sometimes and just “take a chill pill.” My drive to win has been both a blessing and a curse—a blessing because it has given me an unparalleled drive to compete and win and be the best, but a curse because I have a hard time when I lose.

At the beginning of the season, the team I was on got crushed during a pick-up game. It was bad. For three games in a row, we got picked apart and destroyed. I didn’t take it so well. Long story short, I acted like a sore loser and got into it with a couple of the guys (who are actually my friends). I did what I knew I had to do after the game. I shook their hands and apologized for the way I acted. Was it easy? No. I was still fuming from the losses. But as much as I wanted to pout and stew in my anger, I knew I had to humble myself and apologize.

I’m not a Christian because I’m strong and have it all together; I’m a Christian because I’m weak and admit I need a Savior.

Marriage and fatherhood have helped me understand this truth tenfold! They’ve revealed my selfishness. Following Jesus and being a Christian is not about a set of rules or “being good.” Jesus is the only perfect person to have ever lived. Those who don’t follow Jesus oftentimes use this to shame us. Shoot, we, as followers, use this to shame ourselves. But instead of shame we should be filled with awe and thanksgiving for God’s unrelenting and unending grace. He continues to forgive and love us in spite of ourselves. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this in Romans 3:23-24: “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. “

Never forget that in Jesus, we are free and forgiven. He came to abolish shame. He came to set us free from every form of bondage. He died on a cross so that we could live with Him in heaven forever.

I heard this the other day and wanted to share it with you: If you ask God for forgiveness for something you did on Monday, He forgives you. If you go back to Him on Tuesday and ask for forgiveness for the same sin you committed on Monday and say, “Lord please forgive me again,” He says, “What do you mean again?”

The point is that he has already forgotten Monday’s sin and cast it as far away as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). What a gracious and kind Father we have!

Saying “I’m sorry” is a very tangible way that we can set ourselves apart. Confessing our mistakes to God and others is what God calls us to do. It is hard and humbling. Especially when it comes to apologizing to those who are difficult to love. But Jesus says we are just like everybody else if we only love those who love us. Is there anyone with whom God is calling you to make amends? I don’t know why, but for me, my wife continues to come to mind.

Wells Thompson is a contributor to Sports Spectrum magazine. This blog was originally published on www.mybigjesus.com.