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Live Intentionally, Die Empty

Dear David:

I am in a relationship with this man for about 6 months and we have really gotten very close. The other day he accidentally sent me a text message that was supposed to be for his baby’s mother but came to me. That wouldn’t be a problem except he never told me that he had kids. I am hurt by the fact that he would hide something. He said he hid it from me because he said if he had told me earlier that he thought I would never have given him a chance or continued to date him. Could he be hiding more. Should that be a deal breaker?

M (Atlanta)

Dear M –

Call me old fashioned but that seems like something that should have been mentioned on the first, second, third or fourth date. The fact that you define it as “being in a relationship” is worse because it sounds like the two of you are exclusive. You say that he felt that you would not have dated him had he told you. That was not his decision to make for you. We can’t decide for others what they are able to handle. He robbed you of that opportunity to make that decision on your own. My question is, after 6 months… how long did he think he had to keep this information from you? I don’t know whether he is holding back any more information and don’t want to jump to the conclusion that he might be. But what I will say is that perhaps he has demonstrated a pattern that he will lack openness with you as long as he feels that you would be objectionable to it. That is not a real good quality to have in a relationhip. Whether it should be a dealbreaker is not my call to make — it’s yours but consider carefully that even if he has not lied about anything else, he has helped to taint the trust that he had developed in you over 6 months and potentially caused you to have that in the back of your mind.

If you have an “Ask David” question and want some Davidism send me an email at


So I just wrote How To Apologize  and realized people also don’t know how to accept an apology. When a person is apologizing don’t just stand there and take it and walk away. It takes a lot for people to work up the nerve to apologize and when you don’t give an appropriate response it could possibly do further damage to an immature apologizer. (Is that a word?) And it could possibly result in further argument.

How To Accept An Apology:

1. Allow the Person to Apologize: I see lots of times when someone goes to apologize the offended party says, “I don’t want to hear it.” Like I mentioned above, it sometimes takes people a lot of time and courage to apology. When they have worked up the nerve to issue a sincere apology the least you can do is hear it.

2. Drop the idea that they have an ulterior motive: Sometimes the offended party allows their offense to prevent them from hearing an apology objectively. Realize that it’s possible that the offender really understands that they’ve done something wrong. Realize it’s possible that that person wants to bridge the gap and restore peace to the relationship.

3. Give the Person Credit For Apologizing: In the same way that common sense is not so common, apologizing for wrongdoing seems like it should be the norm, but it’s not. Think about it. When was the last time you initiated a sincere apology? How easy was it? Give the person credit for coming to you unforced. They don’t HAVE to apology. Realize that they had a choice not to, but did. Vocally give them credit. There are times when an offense is one-sided, but there are other times when it takes two to tango. You may have done something wrong too, particularly if there was an argument. But if nobody takes a step, then you are still far apart, but even if one person takes a step you are one step closer. And the person took the first step by initiating the apology. Honor that, even if there offense was a big one.

4. Express How You Felt: This is an appropriate time as any to tell the apologizer how their offense made you feel. They are open to hear it now, even when they weren’t open to hear it before. Try to avoid absolute words like “you always” or “you never” because they gender strife. But let them know how it made you feel. Sometimes in a calm forum you will help them understand something about how to relate to you that will help them avoid this offense against you and others in the future.

5. Express How You Feel Now: Perhaps you feel differently after the apology. Let them know how their coming to you made you feel. Maybe you still feel the same way and will need some time to “get over it.” Let them know that. But at least let them know where you stand. Don’t leave them hanging.

6. Forgive Them: Depending on how large the offense, this may be a tough one. But you need to forgive them. For your own sake. You may have to forgive them “by faith” and pray that you can feel real forgiveness later. The problem with unforgiveness is that it ONLY effects YOU. Once they’ve apologized (or not) it is generally off their conscience. Your unforgiveness springs up as bitterness in you, and it’s been proven that unforgiveness can effect your health. I’ve heard it said that “Unforgiveness is like YOU drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

7. Restore Them: For a close relationship this is important. Let them know that you and them are ok. (Or for big issues, that you will be ok). Don’t let them pour their guts out in a sincere apology and you give a callous “ok” and move on. It’s your responsibility at this point to restore them. It can be damaging to your relationship to let it simmer for days with no words as if it didn’t happen, particularly for immature people.

For not so close relationships, just say, “No worries” or “no big deal” and move on.

8. Apologize: What? Why is this step in here? Because like I wrote earlier, sometimes it takes two to tango. Acknowledge where you were wrong. If it was a two-sided offense, you need to admit your wrong too. It will speak volumes and will help grow your relationship when it shows that both people are involved in the success of the relationship. It shows the other party that you are not selfish. If it was only a one-sided offense then disregard this step… but you better be honest with yourself whether or not it was truly a one-sided offense.

9. Forget It: Part of apologizing is forgetting about it. By forgetting about it, I mean not brining it up later as ammunition. If you truly heard and accepted the apology then you are not allowed to bring it up again. (You may remember it in the sense of knowing how to and how not to relate to someone in the future, but you are not to bring it up again as a way to hold something over someone’s head.)

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There’s a running joke on the show, Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry David has to apologize to someone for something stupid that he’s done. His wife yells, “You’re going to have to apologize Larry!” to which he replies that he is always apologizing and is an expert. I feel like that sometimes. I do a lot of apologizing. Not the annoying kind though that reeks of insincerity. I worked with a guy who constantly apologized. “Oh, I’m sorry to interrupt you,” and “Sorry David, can I borrow a pencil? I’m so sorry to ask you that” ad nauseum. But I do apologize whenever it’s appropriate and it’s often appropriate to when you’ve wrong someone. It’s better to apologize rather than to let things linger.

There is a famous Welsh revivalist in the early 1900s who would like to ask people, “When was the last time you apologized?” He believed that if the last apology was a long time ago that something must be wrong because it is inconceivable that a person could live a very long period of time without offending someone. More than that he felt that it’s worse (and sometimes more likely) that people get into the habit of offending others without being conscious of it, thus proving sometthing is wrong with your conscience. Perhaps if you fall into that category you are void of sensitivity.

I tend to agree with Evan Roberts. Any time I have an argument, say curt words, or step out of good character towards a person I get a bit convicted over it inside and feel the need to apologize. And I do. Even when it’s uncomfortable to do so. And it usually is, which is probably why people fail to do.

So how to apologize:

1. Realize you have offended someone and own your wrongdoing: This is probably the biggest part of apologizing. It will take some real mind renewal and self-honesty. You have to get into the habit of putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. People don’t get upset with you for no reason. If you find yourself in an argument and you believe that you are right, you may be still wrong in some area otherwise you wouldn’t be arguing. Find out what part you played in being wrong even if it’s just saying for example “When we were arguing, I shouldn’t have said that I can’t stand the sound of your voice, that had nothing to do with what we were talking about and I know that may have set you off.”

Sometimes your offending someone does not lead to an argument. This is where general sensitivity and concern for others comes into play. Be aware of your motives. If you have done something wrong towards a person or said something hurtful that you should not have said, you need to recognize that and apologize. The fact that you recognize it and own your part will go a long way with the person.

2. Say What You Did:  Don’t just come out and say “Look, I’m sorry” and be done. Even if it seems obvious why you are apologizing, say exactly what you are apologizing about. That is why step 1 above is important. Otherwise it seems like a superficial apology and nobody likes to be pacified.

3. Explain Why You Did It Or Say It: This is where self-honesty comes in. If you were in the heat of an argument and you made a statement for the whole purpose of pushing a person’s button, then say that. Or if you said or did what you did based on some sort of misunderstanding on your part, then let the person know your thought process and how it probably led to the offense. Sometimes it’s an ugly truth. It might lead to deeper and hurtful discussion, but the honesty and transparency will help smooth the problem over. It shows that you judged what you did as wrong.

4. Say I’m sorry: Don’t forget to actually apologize

5. Allow the Person to Vent if They Need To: You hurt them. They may want an opportunity to let you know how what you did made them feel. Don’t let this cause another argument. Be understanding. If it were you in their shoes you may also want a chance to vent. Remember, when you offended them they may not have gotten a chance.

6. Don’t Expect Them To Always Welcome You Back With Open Arms: Sometimes when we offend it is one-sided, often times it is two sided. When it’s two-sided, don’t expect an apology from them just because they apologized to them. Although I feel when it’s a two sided offense (like an argument) when one person comes clean it’s a perfect time for the other person to clear the air as well, often times that’s just not going to happen. Sometimes that person just didn’t take the time to consider their own wrongdoing in the situation. So don’t expect it. Disappointment is what happens when you expect what you don’t have a right to expect and the expectation is not fulfilled. You may pour your guts out in the apology and they may just say, “Ok.” Don’t let it derail you. You have cleared your conscience. And salvaged the relationship.

(Also know that if your offense was egregrious, don’t expect to be welcomed back with open arms – at least not right away. Just take comfort in the fact that you did the right thing and can sleep at night.)

Now, when was the last time you apologized?

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For some reason people think its ok to “agree to disagree” and leave it at that. Me included.

Now I’m not so sure, particularly in close relationships. At times in order to move on with your day/life it is very important to put a conversation on the shelf – but never let it collect dust. To permanently “agree to disagree”means that you’ll eventually be revisiting the issue because the two involved failed to reach to understand where the other person is ‘coming from.’

Acknowleging another person’s perspective does not mean you agree with where they land in their opinion, but it gives you a frame of reference or the path that led to their conclusion. It’s at that point you understand them. (And not necessarily agree.) You realize that though their conclusion may be flawed, they may not necessarily have bad motives.

You can then address the issue from a more sympathetic stance and maybe even reach a certain point of agreement and avoid potentially eroding the relationship because people feel misunderstood.

There is very little worse than that feeling.

Davidism #28 – Don’t agree to disagree. Reach to understand.

It’s okay to temporarily agree to disagree but make sure to find out if you truly disagree by first trying to understand the other person’s position not by trying to defend your corner.

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I received a call from someone very close to me wanting to come clean and apologize. This person came clean about some issues that he had internalized against me for over 2 years. He explained that he experienced (from his perception) that I had committed an offense against him and instead of dealing with me head on at that time, he developed a great offense against me and even to a point of hatred in his heart. He said that over those 2 years when he moved to a different state he used every opportunity to slander and to harbor unforgiveness in his heart.

He told me that it took him to a very dark place within his heart and his attitude. He let me know that once he moved back he had been praying and reading his Bible and God began to minister to him about how he was acting and about love. And he called me up. I let him know how much his call meant to me and I appreciated it.

This brings me to today’s Davidism, which is a quote that I wish I had made up but I heard it from Joyce Meyer  but I’ll steal it for today:

Davidism #27: Holding on to something against someone else is like you drinking poison expecting the other person to die

It is so true. One of the things he told me was that when he was harboring those things in his heart he had an “I’ll show you” mentality, when although I had an inkling that he was upset with me, I had moved past the issue and was praying for him the whole time. I even reached out to him when he was in a financial situation. See, and the whole time it was doing damage to him inside.

Many of us take that same ride as he did. We hold on to things instead of getting to confront the issue and then taking it before God and asking him to shine a light on where we are wrong and ask him to help us out. Don’t lose years from your life holding on to a past hurt. If you can drop it off with God, do that. If you can take it a step further and resolve it with the person, do that. But holding on to the offense, drinking your own poison and letting it spiral you to a bad place… NEVER do that!

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It’s so interesting to me that for 13 minutes the world stopped and many of the major networks covered the apology of Tiger Woods. It was interesting for 4 months that Tiger’s infidelity has been in the top news stories. It was more interesting that it although everyone would agree that the apology and the infidelity was none of our business and that is was a personal matter, that so many people decided to make commentary on the rightness or wrongness of the situation and how he decided to handle it.

I admit I watched the apology from Woods. I watched because I was curious of what it looks to be in a fishbowl and have your personal issues made everybody’s business. I wanted to see if he would change his mind and decide to rebel against having to own up to the world something that he didn’t really owe us. I watched to see the reaction of his mother and the pain of having to have her only son go thru this so publicly. Whether he meant the apology or not, I am sure it was not easy to stand there and do that. I’m sure any married couple knows the personal pain and embarrassment of having to deal with your personal issues just between the two of you. It is sometimes painful and embarassing to have to go to my own wife and apologize for something as small as being unkind and having to dig in deep conversations to find the origin point of certain reactions. I imagine doing something private so publicly is a problem.

This loss of privacy, unfortunately, comes with the territory of fame. Charles Barkley made the statement that “athletes don’t get paid millions of dollars to put a ball in a hole, they are paid millions of dollars because that is the price tag of loss of privacy.” He’s right, for some reason the public believes that because he is paid millions of dollars it gives us a right to comment on his life and get all the sordid details.

Here’s what I learned from “eyeing the tiger” and here’s a lesson you should be paying attention to as well:

“If any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also.” -Galatians 6:1

Davidism #26- The lesson you should learn about other people’s missteps is “God show me what I don’t see about me.”

Every time someone’s business get made public, be they a celebrity or someone at your job, that is not an opportunity for your two cents about what they did was wrong, or how they should handle it. That is a time for you to look internally and see if you have any missteps in your personal life that you have let go on for too long and deal with them. And even if you don’t, you need to make it a point to stay alert to make sure you guard your integrity. What bad things people say about you don’t make it true, you make it true. Your job is to make sure that what they say is not true.

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“So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times. Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants. Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of Him.” – Ephesians 5:15-17 MSG

In the not too distant past, I would complain about how little time that I had. There were seemingly constant demands on my time and while I got to do fun and interesting things once or twice a week, I still complained about there not being more to it. One day it finally occurred to me that this is what life is all about – and it’s good! I resolved that I would quit hiding away because frankly… life is in the living of it! Since I had that “epiphany of sorts” I have been really excited about my life, family, friends and each day.

I got caught into the trap of thinking that “it’s gotta be better than this.” and I think lots of us get that idea without any real basis of why we even think that way. It sometimes (“sometimes” is an understatement probably) seems that we are looking for something that will amplify or hype up our lives in some way – not realizing that what we are living more times than not is pretty good. It is in fact, life. The general population’s approach to life reminds me of the scripture above. I won’t really get into the conversation of “drinking” but it does bring up an interesting point in my mind particularly regarding people who drink and why – even casually. Stay with me and I’ll loop it all together.

I would go out on a limb and say that there are very few people who actually drink because they enjoy the taste of alcohol. There may be some wines or other drinks that can arguably be considered tasty, but I would venture to say that the taste doesn’t necessarily make people want to reach for it like it’s a glass of Kool-Aid. Lots of times for the flavored drinks, they would taste better without the alcohol. So in my mind drinking is really a means to an end. It’s chasing a feeling. That might be a tough thing to admit for some, but it’s true.

“I need a drink” is not an uncommon mantra for those who’ve had a rough day. Why? Because it’s chasing a feeling that the drink brings of escaping from stress thru little inhibition or relaxation. It’s sometimes “liquid courage” when reaching for more guts to do something feared. People turn to drinks before (and while) going out to party and have a good time because of the euphoric feeling it brings and even the alibi for excuse the next day when doing something out of the ordinary. And perhaps way too common is having to be “tipsy” for sex or to get in the mood. All of these are examples of buying into havng to have the heightened state to enjoy life.

This same concept applies to every area of our lives, beyond alcohol. We are looking for some heightened form of what life should be from everywhere without really understanding what life is supposed to be like. We look for it with drama in relationships because we think if there’s no drama then something must be wrong. We’re always looking for the next best job, when at the moment the one we have is good. Married people checking outside their marriage comparing what someone else told them it should be. It’s like the scripture above – where there is no revelation of life, the option is “turning to wine.” It’s turning to an alternative substance to generate what you’re after.

Because we lack revelation of what life is supposed to deliver to us. We always assume there is something more to it. And maybe there’s nothing more to it except the lie that there’s something more to it. We become “feeling/exhiliration addicts.” Things have to be on “TEN” to feel like we enjoy life. It creates such discontent the more we pursue the “intoxicants” of the world the less fulfillment we get out of life. We never check it to do life God’s way or even enjoy and make the most of every opportunity we have.

Stop “drinking the wine.” Stop believing that just because we have access to the choices of the world’s wine that you have to partake. The world says “There’s something you’re missing that will make it better.” The world is deceiving you to a point of depression when you can’t the fulfillment you seek in the wrong place.

Wine tries to make what God created better but it’s a simulated intoxicated version. We tend to exalt the intoxicated version and try to put it above what God created. And that leads us to living the intoxicated life. We think that our situations are an exception so we have a right to search for an alternative. But here’s news for you, most of the problems in our life exist in the realm of normal. And you’ve fallen for the okie-doke thinking otherwise.

Embrace Life as it is. Get High on Life, the one you have. Life is Enjoyed in the Living of It.

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