Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Can You Apologize For Someone Else?

My wife Jenny hates being in public with me. Why, you ask?

Because I tend to make a scene. Not some "hostile-rampaging-customer-better-call-security" kind of scene. But rather a "that-poor-woman-her-husband-is-a-child" kind of scene.

For example, two weekends ago we went grocery shopping, and Brooke and I decided that it would be a good idea if we only moved whilst skipping.

You know, skipping

So as Jenny pushed the grocery cart, Brooke and I held hands and skipped around the store. For about an hour. Simultaneously playing "red-light/green-light." That's right...

We're awesome!

Meanwhile poor Jenny is left embarrassed, blushing, hiding her face and apologizing for our behavior to every person that we skip past. Which in a grocery store on Saturday morning is a surprisingly large amount.

One of the funny things I thought about later was the idea of her apologizing for my actions. Most people seemed to be fine with it, they just smiled, did the standard "oh it's fine, they're having fun" response and went about their business. Others were grump-buckets. Scoffing and storming around, as they can't be bothered with such shenanigans.

I thought it was interesting that though I was the one being absurd, Jenny was apologizing for me. Why would people accept an apology from her? She had no control over what was happening. Wouldn't the apology mean more coming from me? Maybe it would, but I think that people just want an apology, from somebody. Even if it's something goofy like skipping through the grocery store.

It made me think of when some Christians apologize on behalf of others. Like this video I posted recently. Or the concept of the 'confessional booths' from Donald Miller's book Blue Like Jazz. They were confessional booths set up where instead of people coming in to confess their sins to a priest, the 'priest' (Donald Miller & his friends) confessed their sins to the people; both their sins individually and the sins that Christians have done collectively.

Wouldn't the apology mean more coming from people who have actually done the wrong?


But does it really matter that much? Sure it may matter to the person who did the offense in the first place, but will it matter a whole lot to the person who was offended?

Do they care so much about exact justice at that point? Or would they just want an apology?

From somebody?

Anybody who could possibly fit into the role of the offender. Somebody who could identify and understand what the person did that hurt them so deeply, why it hurts them, empathize with them, and offer a sincere apology for actions which they had no control over. Especially if it costs them something, sacrificially.

I should be careful, because that's starting to sound a whole lot like what Jesus did on the cross. Almost as if his death was some kind of giant galactic apology for all of our mistakes. Almost as if he was begging God to forgive us, because we didn't know what we were doing.

Maybe apologizing on behalf of others, other Christians especially, who offend, who cause pain, who create roadblocks to God and slam spiritual doors in people's faces is something we should be doing.

Maybe it's a way of going and doing what Jesus did.

What do you think? Can you even really apologize for someone else? Should we?