We don’t really like to apologize, do we? It’s humiliating to admit we were wrong–it smarts.

But if we can be swift about it–both in the request for forgiveness (or in the admission of a mistake or accident), and in the granting of forgiveness–we can save a lot of time and pain.

They say withholding forgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It’s toxic, but not in the way we thought.

And when we delay admitting we were wrong, we undermine our own credibility. The more we dig in–seeking to blame-shift, self-justify, or heap excuses the worse it gets. How many of us have rolled our eyes at someone who needlessly and hopelessly entrenches in an error (or worse, a sin)? And, if we’re honest, how often have we done the same?

One of my favorite stories is C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. A young girl, Lucy, visits a magical world (Narnia) through a Wardrobe. When she returns and excitedly tells her three siblings–they think she’s crazy or lying. Which is very distressing to Lucy because she’s a very truthful person. When she’s finally vindicated, her oldest brother, Peter, apologizes with admirable swiftness, and Lucy instantly accepts his apology.

“O-o-oh!” said Susan suddenly. And everyone asked her what was the matter.

“I’m sitting against a tree,” said Susan, “and look! It’s getting lighter–over there.”

“By jove, you’re right,” said Peter, “and look there–and there. It’s trees all round. And this wet stuff is snow. Why, I do believe we’ve got into Lucy’s wood after all.”

And now there was no mistaking it and all four children stood blinking in the daylight of a winter day. Behind them were coats hanging on pegs, in front of them were snow-covered trees.

Peter turned at once to Lucy.

“I apologise for not believing you,” he said, I’m sorry. Will you shake hands?”

“Of course,” said Lucy, and did.

C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, 51.