Friday, March 6, 2015

When Sorry Isn't Enough, by Gary Chapman

Chances are you've had to apologize a few times in your life, and I'm sure a few people have apologized to you. But more often than not, the apologies that need to be said never get verbalized, or if they do, the recipient doubts their sincerity. Enter When Sorry Isn't Enough, by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas.

If you've ever struggled with apologizing or forgiving, then this book is for you. I needed it so much, and it was incredibly challenging and healing.

The Book 
When Sorry Isn't Enough details 5 apology love languages, encouraging you to take a step up from the basic "I'm sorry." Each person has different phrases they're looking for to know you're sincere, and if you don't speak their language, you're probably in a strained relationship.

1. Expressing Regret "I'm so sorry for what I did." 
2. Accepting Responsibility "What I did was wrong. There is no excuse for it." 
3. Making Restitution "What can I do to make this right?" 
4. Genuinely Repenting "I'm going to do _ to make sure this doesn't happen again." 
5. Requesting Forgiveness "Will you please forgive me?" 

In each category, Chapman and Thomas tell stories of people they have counselled, give examples of the right way to apologize, and explain the need that you are supplying for the offended person.

The second half of the book delves into receiving apologies. It discusses why apologies come hard to different personalities, and what forgiveness is and isn't. And it also explains that one of the people you may need to forgive is yourself.

My Thoughts
I love this book because it is simple and easy to read. It covers the basics without going into lofty flights of prose and thought. Just what you need to do, and that's it. That doesn't mean taking action is easy, but their goal is give you understanding as simply as possible.

This is not a theology book. It's a practical how-to book. You'll find some Scriptures, and it's written from a Christian worldview, but mainly Thomas and Chapman draw on their years of counselling experience. The facts of sin and repentance are already assumed; they're out to tell you how to put that knowledge to practical use. They had a lot of stories with couples, singles, young and old, family and friends, to give a wide scope of how these principles work. I found the life experience aspect a refreshing inclusion.

In some ways this book was a hard, hard read. I have an extremely tender conscience, with an extreme perfectionism streak. This makes it difficult to accept messing up, while at the same time I don't like ignoring what I've done wrong. It is difficult to go through the apology process, but the older I get, the more I want an authentic, growing relationship with Christ and with family and friends. In that sense, it was convicting.

On the other hand, some of it was incredibly healing. The author duo explain that it's not wrong to want justice, as long as you handle that desire righteously. Nor does forgiveness mean that your memory is wiped of the event. Nor should you allow people to manipulate you with poor and insincere apologies.

Nor should you implode and refuse to forgive yourself.

As for the apology languages themselves? Oftentimes the way you give an apology is your personal language. So think of the last one you gave, and what you said--any of the phrases up top ring with you? My apology language is Expressing Regret, with Accepting Responsibility being a close second. (Though in rare cases I feel pretty strongly about Making Restitution.)

I appreciated this teaching, would highly recommend it, and hope to read it again. I think I'll need some time to fully process it; but I was so blessed by When Sorry Isn't Enough, and I hope you will be too.

I received this book free from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.



  1. Fascinating! I had really never thought of people having different apology languages, but living in the family I do, I could see it the instant you said it. (I think I know what mine are already, actually).
    Great post!
    E.H. ;)

    1. I'm sure your family has lots of different examples that are found in this book! It was cool to see different ways to bridge the gap between someone who's sincerely sorry and someone who just needs slightly different phrasing to understand it. :) I'd love to know what yours are too!


  2. This looks like a really good book! Maybe you'd let me read it sometime?? I'm trying to figure out what my apology language is...It's quite fascinating. :) Thanks for posting! <3


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