Is it time to make amends? Does it seem intimidating? It can be hard to make amends because pride, shame, and embarrassment can get in the way. However, the Bible commands us to make amends. Matthew 5:23 says, “If you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar and…someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”
Not only does the Bible require making amends, but so do the 12 Steps. Life Recovery Step 9 says, “We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
Here are some suggestions on what to do—and say—when making amends.
1. Start with a heartfelt apology.
Don’t apologize on social media or through texting. Instead, try talking sincerely to the other person face-to-face. Avoid making a general apology like, “I apologize for everything.” Rather, look them in the eye and say, “It was very callous of me to hurt you as I did, and I apologize for the harm I caused you.”
2. Take responsibility for your actions.
Making amends is more than just offering an apology—making amends is when an individual takes responsibility for their part in hurting someone. Blaming, making excuses, and minimizing are all signs of avoiding responsibility. A better way is to say, “I alone am responsible.”
3. Be specific about what you did wrong.
It is best to specifically name any faults, offenses, or sins committed that hurt the other person. It may even help to write down the wrongdoings and practice beforehand to be prepared. Going into the meeting knowing what to say shows the other person that resolving the matter is essential; being detailed in the conversation demonstrates care and concern.
4. Genuinely express remorse.
Just saying “I was wrong” is not enough. One must also show sorrow over what one did, how one hurt the other person and the pain it caused them. The offender must convey genuine feelings of remorse to successfully make amends.
5. Listen and validate.
Often, a person who has been hurt longs to feel heard, understood, and validated. When making amends, be sure to take the time to ask questions and listen. Let the other person talk about their feelings, experience, and perspective. Then, after they are done talking, validate them by saying, “I can see why you would feel that way.”
6. Ask for forgiveness.
When asking for forgiveness, be authentic. Be willing to accept any consequences—no matter how severe. If the other person forgives but acts poorly, it’s okay to not reconcile. Even though a person says they forgive, they might not be ready to reconcile.
7. Do what you can to rectify the situation.
Ask the other person if there is a way to amend wrongdoings. This shows a willingness to make right that which was wrong. For example, if money was taken, offer to pay them back by saying, “I will pay you back twice the amount of money that I took from you.” Another way to rectify the situation is to see a counselor in the New Life Counseling Network.
8. Change your behavior.
The process of making amends does not have to stop after apologizing. One must take it a step further and be willing to change their behavior. By changing one’s behavior, they show others that they are doing what they can to make amends and earn back the trust that was broken.
If it has been hard for you to make amends, please know we are here for you. Call 800-NEW-LIFE. We can provide resources that can help you and connect you with a licensed counselor or certified coach.
by Kimberlee Bousman