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I blew it. I didn’t mean to, I didn’t want to, but I did.
Something I did wounded a dear friend, and my heart hurts to know that I caused another pain.
I can’t go back, can’t hit rewind, though I wish I could, especially today. I can’t erase.
My heart recoils in discomfort and regret. My mind begins to churn the intractable tape of unkindness, criticism, and self-condemnation.
I believe we have all experienced times in our lives where we’ve blown it and hurt someone. Our humanity inevitably brushes up against another and bruises the beautiful fibers of their soul.
This is not an easy discussion. It makes the strongest among us uncomfortable. We’d rather look away. Talk about easier things. Perhaps.
Maybe there is something to be learned from our mistakes. Maybe there is another layer of healing and growth for us on this journey.
What do we do when we blow it? Where can we find healing when we have hurt someone? I believe there are three important steps to take when we realize we have blown it that can lead us to greater clarity, wisdom, and peace in our lives and our relationships.
Really own it. Not half way, not almost all the way. We must own the totality of words or actions that caused someone harm or pain. We must own responsibility whether our friend makes it easy for us or not.
There are no excuses, no “yes, but’s,” no rationalizations. Anything that allows us to minimize or walk around the issue at hand will prevent any possibility of healing or reconciliation. More than that, avoidance or defensiveness keeps us from coming face to face with ourselves, acknowledging the essence of our broken condition, and owning responsibility for the consequences of our words or actions.
Owning responsibility is the first step toward healing, toward freedom, toward peace. We no longer have to bear the weight of feigned perfection, we can breathe into the goodness and mercy of a faithful Father who knows us, delights in us, and loves us just the same.
Matthew 5:23-24 tells us, Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
According to the Google Dictionary, the word repent is defined as, viewing or thinking of (an action or omission) with deep regret or remorse. We must repent first to God, then we must repent to whomever we have wronged, if at all possible. We must acknowledge our wrong, intentional or not, and we must ask for their forgiveness.
We repent whether they forgive us or not. We repent because it cleanses us spiritually and emotionally. We repent because there is no other way toward reconciliation and restoration with God or our friend. Brushing hurts under the rug or ignoring them will never bring healing. Repentance, asking for forgiveness —that brings healing.
In Psalms 38:18 David cries out to God, I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.
Again in Psalms 32:5 he states, I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
We are at times tempted to simply apologize for something in order to remove the unpleasantness and move past an uncomfortable conversation as quickly as possible. We’ve all witnessed children who’ve learned to say “sorry” to get past the offense and stem the potential tide of parental consequence, only to repeat the same behavior almost immediately.
Apologizing is not the same as repenting. Apologies never flow from the heart. They do not seek to change or make amends. They are content with the momentary relief of a burden lifted. Repentance begins in the heart. Repentance always results in change. Repentance always seeks to make amends.
When we have done something wrong, it is ours to do what we can authentically do to make our wrong right.
If we were dishonest, our amends might be a commitment to honesty in the future. If we were critical, condemning, or unkind, our amends might be in evaluating the condition of our heart to better understand what it is within us that needs to be healed or grown so that we can move forward in all of our relationships in a more compassionate, loving manner.
Psalms 34:14 encourages us to, Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
All relationships have moments where hurts or offenses surface. What makes a healthy relationship is not the absence of conflict, it is in how well we walk through conflict that will lead to greater safety, openness, and intimacy in our relationships.
Have you ever blown it? Have you said or done something to a spouse, a child, a friend, or co-worker that you regretted, that you wished you could take back?
You don’t have to run and hide. You don’t have to ignore the situation. You don’t have to pretend that everything is all right. You can walk through conflict with courage and conviction. You can see the power of God’s healing breathe restoration and life into your relationships.
You can own it. You can repent. You can make it right.
Lisa Murray is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, speaker, coffee lover, and wife. Her online community lisamurrayonline.com provides a compassionate place embrace peace in the midst of the stresses and struggles of life. In her new book, Peace for a Lifetime, Lisa Murray shares the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. While she grew up in the Florida sunshine, she and her husband now live just outside Nashville in Franklin, TN. Peace for a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com. Visit her on Facebook and Twitter.