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Friday, May 30, 2014

"When Sorry Isn't Enough" (Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas)

TITLE: When Sorry Isn't Enough: Making Things Right with Those You Love
AUTHOR: Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing, 2013, (176 pages).

No one's perfect. Neither should we behave in such a way as if we expect people to be perfect. Yet, that happens all the time. Even the best of relationships will fall into bad and difficult times, especially when one's loved one is hurt. What if the offense is repeated? What if the expectation is more than a mere apology? Then what should we do?

Previously released under the title, "The Five Love Languages of Apology," Chapman understands the intricate connections needed for going beyond mere sorry. When authentic apology meets understanding among all, we have genuine forgiveness. The authors assert that because "people are incurably moral," not only do they seek to do right, they are inclined to try righting any wrongs. The key is to learn how to do that. The five types of apology are as follows:

  1. "I'm Sorry" - expressing regret
  2. "I was wrong" - accepting responsibility
  3. "How can I make it right?" - Making restitution
  4. "I want to change" - Genuine repentance
  5. "Can you find it in your heart?" - requesting forgiveness.

These five types are explained with examples and ways on how to go about with authentic apologies. The second half of the book gets very practical with exercises that readers can learn from. There is role play. There is empathy with a focus on understanding the love language of the person we are trying to apologize to. In addressing the problem about the lack of will to apologize, the authors begin with the terrible shootings at Newtown Connecticut, to make the point that while apology may be painful, not apologizing can bring about deeper hurts. 

So What?

Deeply practical and full of real life examples, Chapman and Thomas cover a very important topic that is very personal and widely applicable. I believe that the biggest problems in this world are not technical, social, political, technological, economical, philosophical, or whatever disciplines of thought out there. The biggest problems always have to do with relationships. A broken relationship is not easily healed, especially when the cuts are deep and highly personal. The purpose of this book is healing and reconciliation. Healing occurs when there is genuine apologies and forgiveness. When an apology is truthfully offered and appropriately received, it will trigger a desire toward forgiveness.

Overall, the tone of the book is fair. The structure of the forgiveness cycle is rational. The examples in the book make it easy for readers to relate to. Chapman frequently comes back to the very concept of "love languages" that made him a household name. Even in apology and forgiveness, different love languages require different approaches in giving apologies. Do not use this book without first thinking through and discerning how best to apply it. If we simply lift the examples and tips without thinking through, we may become perceived as lazy or worse, insincere. Instead, take time to pray, and to understand the love language of the other person. If in doubt, wait and ask for more time. Once we come to a stage where one is "truly sorry," one will be on the track to become "truly forgiven."

Kudos to Chapman and Thomas for another powerful contribution to healing relationships.

Rating:4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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