Why Did I Say That?


I didn’t wake up intending to hurt my husband.

But with one careless sentence, I did.

A few words strung together, delivered without thought of timing, or even of necessity, can demoralize. Discourage. Defeat. Divide. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? You’ve said words like this. And words like this have been said to you.

It’s awful, isn’t it?

The minute the words left my mouth I regretted them. If only someone would invent a rewind button for life.

Once words are spoken, there is no taking them back. There’s no rewind. No do-over. But that doesn’t mean there is no hope. What we do next affects the effects of careless comments or dumb decisions.

Our next step matters when we can't take back the step we've already taken. Click To Tweet

What steps can we make? We have at least three options when we say, or do, things we regret:

  • 1.  We can pretend like it didn’t matter.

If we’re embarrassed to admit our fault, or we’re clueless about our comment, (“It was just a joke…”) it can seem easier to ignore the whole situation.

Easier, yes. Wiser, no.

Consider the words of Proverbs 14:1 (one of my personal favorites):

“A wise woman builds her home,
    but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.”

Words build up and words tear down. This is for real. You know it in your bones because you’ve experienced it in your life.

If we pretend a cutting comment or snarky comeback doesn’t really hurt the other person, or won’t negatively affect the relationship, we’ve got our head stuck in the sand. Let’s not pretend words don’t matter. They do.

  • 2.  We can act like it was justified.

“He deserved it”. “She had it coming”. “I only said that because I was tired/hormonal/hangry”.

If we excuse our hurtful words, we hurt our relationships.

How does an excuse differ from an explanation? An excuse shifts blame away from me, and places blame on someone, or something, other than me. An excuse means I refuse to take ownership of my bad behavior, and that’s bad for my relationship.

  • 3.  We can ask for forgiveness.

A real apology is the only real solution for real hurt.

Forgiveness takes one person; reconciliation takes two. Forgiveness doesn’t require remorse and repentance, but reconciliation does. If we want our relationship to remain right, we must acknowledge our wrong. We do this by offering an apology–the real kind, not the flippant, “Sorry”, where it’s obvious we aren’t. A meaningless apology is worse than no apology. It’s like saying “I know you think I did something hurtful, but I don’t really care”.

What constitutes a genuine apology?

  1. The apology is motivated by sincere remorse. (I am sorry)
  2. The apology acknowledges personal responsibility. (I was wrong)
  3. The apology is offered without reservations. (I’m sorry, but…)
  4. The apology is accompanied by appropriate restitution. (I want to make things right)
  5. The apology is demonstrated by real repentance. (a change in behavior)

Every day someone, somewhere, says something they regret. Yesterday it was me. Maybe today, it’s you.

When this happens–and it will–we have three choices. Only one choice offers the potential for hope. It’s the choice I made when my careless words wounded JP. Because my apology was sincere and immediate, and because my husband is kind and forgiving, we worked through the issue. It took humility on my part, and forgiveness on his part. I suppose no two qualities better embody genuine love than these.

We don’t have to live with regret over words we regret, if we seek to make thing right when we are wrong.

Is there anyone to whom you need to apologize? A spouse? A child? A co-worker? A friend? If so, do it today. In fact, do it now.

If we want our relationship to be right, we must acknowledge our wrong. Click To Tweet





  1. Mark

    Miss Donna,
    I sure appreciate your articulate, yet colloquial, style as you uncover the power of words in either tearing down, or building up. Your personal transparency and Biblical solutions to the issues surrounding apology, repentance, reconciliation, and forgiveness are refreshing. Looking forward to JP’s exposition of James 3 when he’ll, no doubt, raise some of the same issues/solutions.
    Nice work, Donna!

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