Lance Armstrong has done nothing to me.
Sure, I’ve watched a snippet or two of a Tour de France race here and there, but I’ve never really been a big fan. I’ve never bought a yellow bracelet or any of that fancy yellow clothing, so, I suppose he won’t be admitting anything to me and following up with any sort of apology.
But as someone who has done quite a bit of apologizing and as someone who thinks there should be quite a bit more apologizing in this world, I am interested in the proceedings.
As he’s battled these allegations through the years, Armstrong has been aggressively defiant. If someone questioned his cleanliness, they were paid back in spades. He used a scorched-earth policy to defend his reputation. So now that he’s coming clean, how will he address his scorched-earth tactics? Will he take the approach that I so often take and just be sorry he got caught? Or, will he take follow the example of the wee little tax collector, Zacchaeus:
And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” Luke 19:8 ESV
It’s not up to me to judge his apology. As I said before, I haven’t really been affected by any of this, and even if I were, as a follower of Christ, I have an obligation to forgive. But the world needs more apologizing – and not just the “give me back my endorsements kind.” The world needs to see and hear a heartfelt, I’ve done a bad, bad thing kind of apology.
One of the problems that I have always had with Armstrong was that his whole recovery and subsequent tour victories were always about him. Look at me and look what I’ve done. I’m living strong. It would have been nice to see and hear him honor his Creator and Sustainer. Sure, his foundation has done wonderful things to support those with cancer and help them in their battle, but the foundation of the foundation was seemingly based on the wrong thing.
Unfortunately, in my life I’ve done some horrible things that have had very negative effects on others. Often, I spent time in denial about what I had done and the way I had done things. Many times thereafter, I would apologize for what I had done and then deliver a justification for my self in the same breath. Obviously, those apologies fell flat. (I’m afraid I still do this some times.)
A real apology means you admit what you did and you forsake the excuses. You admit to what you did and you commit to cleaning up the mess as best you can, no matter the cost.
In Armstrong’s case, there seem to be legal problems lurking around his behavior. It’s possible that a real apology would have a negative effect on these issues. It will be interesting to see how he navigates this mess.
Whatever the mess and whatever the cost, though, I’m hoping he does his apologizing the right way.