Lately I’ve been thinking about an important lesson I learned a few years ago, during my days of working as a seasonal cleaner for vacation rentals. On this particular day I had the help of a friend of mine – and we were cleaning. Oh, were we cleaning! These little vacation cabins were ‘spotless’ – kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, loft…even the deck outside swept.  What a sense of accomplishment I had as the day progressed!

Later that day I received a call from the owner of one of the cabins I cleaned – a complaint from a renter – there were bugs on the ceiling (these rentals were next to Lake Erie, so bugs – mayflies – can be an issue)  I assured him that I cleaned…and I cleaned well…and I had another person cleaning with me and she cleaned well as well…and there was no way bugs could be on that ceiling because I had done my job…the renter must be mistaken or there was a hole in a screen or something….something MUST have happened because I KNEW that I did my job.

Upon getting off the phone with the owner – I shared with my friend the conversation…and I was MAD!  We had taken EXTRA time cleaning that cabin! How dare there be a complaint!  We both steamed about it for a while.  In fact, I remember saying not so pleasant things about the whole situation.

Having placed the renters in another cabin, the “bug” cabin was empty, and I was marching right over and was going to see what all the hoopla was about.  I loaded up my cleaning supplies and my friend.  Away we went - bent on proving our innocence in this debacle.  

I was the first one out of the car – leaving my friend to haul the vacuum.   I just HAD to look at the cabin ceiling!  Unlocking the door I stepped in and looked up… and… much to my dismay… the ceiling was indeed filled with bugs…and no, there wasn’t a hole in a screen, and no, the doors hadn’t been left open, and…

I just stood there looking at those bugs… The realization washing over me that I … I had failed to look up. We had been so fixated on cleaning the counters, floors, kitchen and bath that not once did I look up.

All my words said, privately of course, about the situation to my friend came rushing back to me.  I was reminded of all of my anger about the situation...I was left feeling ashamed and guilty.

It was at that moment I learned a very important lesson…sometimes... you need to just admit when you don’t “look up”.

I called the owner and apologized.  I offered no excuses ... just the truth…I forgot to look up...

I’ve shared with you a silly story about a spotty cleaning job and a ceiling filled with bugs.  The “moral” of the story, if you will, is taking responsibility for your own actions and being able to admit when you “don’t look up” … no excuses offered, just a humble apology. 

“Please forgive me, I was wrong” is a very powerful statement.  In this simple statement you are humbling yourself (moving pride to the side – out of your way) taking responsibility for whatever your action/reaction was that caused the situation as well as empowering the other person that was wronged to forgive you.

It is when we are able to admit, without reservations, our culpability, that healing can begin in whatever the situation may be.

This, of course, comes with the caveat that we cannot make another forgive us. Nor should we try.  When an apology is offered with sincerity no expectations should be attached.  We are unable to dictate to another how they should feel and react…and that is OKAY.   Know that by admitting guilt and requesting forgiveness the process of rectifying the situation starts.

I've been reflecting on this lesson lately...it is good to revisit our "aha moments" every now and again.

Admit when you don’t “look up”.  Take responsibility for your words and deeds.  Offer sincere apologies when you have wronged another.  Keep the excuses on a shelf – they do no one a bit of good.

Forgiveness and healing begin the very moment we admit we are wrong and take responsibility.

Keep looking up. 

May God Bless Your Journey -

Natalie