I spent some time thinking about "Qualified Love" this morning and shared my thoughts in a blog post. Although there are different types of love, a qualifier makes it seem unlike love at all to the receiver. And, I think the same is true for apology; a qualified apology doesn't seem to hold the same healing power as an unequivocal one.
Recently, I received an apology from a friend for something that happened many years ago. This apology was sincere and unqualified. The speaker didn't blame his actions on a response to mine. He took responsibility for what he had done and asked for forgiveness. The truth is that he was forgiven long ago, but this step provided a healing for me that I didn't even realize I needed. His unqualified apology and humble heart made all of the difference.
Now, I must take a second here for a sidebar. I do not expect someone to apologize or ask for forgiveness for something they didn't actually do. I have seen situations where the offended party assumes the intentions and guilt of the supposed offenders and only an unqualified apology will be accepted. But, I don't expect anyone to lie and take blame for something they never actually did or intended. In situations like that, I think it is entirely ok to say you're sorry if someone was hurt, even if it wasn't your intention. Just because someone thinks you meant something in a certain way or did something for a certain reason doesn't make it true. The "offender" needn't be held hostage by the "offended".
Several years ago, I read a book by Gary Chapman called "The Five Languages of Apology". In the same vein as his book, "The Five Love Languages", Mr. Chapman talks about the way we receive apologies. Each of us has our own "language" by which we understand the sincerity of the apology we receive. It is a great book and I highly recommend it (and also The Five Love Languages).
If you're interested in determining your language of apology, check out this quiz:
Maybe qualifiers are necessary. I know that I am guilty of using them. Maybe it's important to be clear and concise when expressing love and apology. But, to me, when qualifiers or excuses are used, it seems to negate the sentiment. I'm sure it's not that cut and dried, so I'll be thinking on it for weeks to come.