by Toni Birdsong
Twenty five years is a long time to wait for an apology. Still, the moment went something like this thanks to our ability to send anyone, anywhere a private Facebook message:
Me: Dear Kelly, I certainly wouldn’t blame you if cuss me out, block me, or never even respond to this message. The way I treated you in high school haunts me to this day. You didn’t deserve any of it. The real truth? You were prettier than me, smarter, and basically—everything I wasn’t. I was jealous and I made your life hell because of it. I’m so ashamed of the hurt I caused you. Is there any way you would even consider forgiving me?
Kelly: Toni, wow—what a kind message. Of course I forgive you. That was a tough time. Don’t be quick to take all the blame. I know I wasn’t always the nicest person back then. It takes two you know.
Me: I’m honored. Your forgiveness means more than you know. I was a hurting girl back then and my response was to turn around and hurt you—a totally innocent bystander. I’m teaching my kids to handle their feelings (and mean people like me) so much better than I did.
Kelly: Me too! Kids can be really brutal and life is so much harder for kids now. I’d hate for our girls to act the way we did. All is forgiven, and—yes—I also accept your friend request. Let’s do better this time.
Do you have digital amends to make? Forgiveness to ask? Yes—your hands will tremble and your mind will attempt to flee the very thought of it, but move through the tough stuff and set things right today.
10 ways to make digital amends today . . .
- Ask God to fully bring the offense to light. Ask Him to help you relate to the event, the other person’s pain, and to somehow understand the harm your actions caused.
- Ask for courage. Making amends takes faith and courage that isn’t natural to the human psyche—it’s a spiritual discipline. An apology can be even more awkward if you’ve put if off for years (like me), let pride rationalize the event, or intentionally ignored the Holy Spirit’s promptings (which, by the way, is a baaaaad plan for inner peace).
- Lean on technology. Thanks to technology, you can find anyone online. You don’t have to be a “friend” on someone’s Facebook page to send him or her a private message.
- Ask—don’t drivel. “I’m sorry for …” won’t cut it. Acknowledge your responsibility in the offense and the hurt you caused. When you “ask” for forgiveness rather than “tell” someone you are sorry, you put the power back in the other person’s hands to forgive . . . or not to forgive. This moment of empowerment goes a long way in restoring dignity and starting the healing process.
- Time your request. Try to get a glimpse of what’s happening in the person’s life before you add an intense apology. Like Queen Esther survey the situation, wait, and then speak when God tells you it’s appropriate. Your sudden need to apologize may not match the other person’s ability to receive it at the moment.
- Realize it’s never too late. Ideally, it’s best to seek forgiveness immediately, but if time has passed, don’t angst over it a day longer (or dismiss the offense)—make amends as soon as possible.
- Trust Love and Truth, not yourself. As Paul reminds in 1 Corinthians 13 says: Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
- Ignore people, obey God. There will be people you miff with your apology—people hoping to keep the past flames of battle blazing between you and another person. Ignore them. Move toward wholeness and holiness. People don’t need to “get it” but God need to be glorified by your obedience to restoring a fractured relationship.
- Meditate on these two scriptures: James 5:16: Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Matt 5:23-24: So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
- Prepare for rejection. Seeking forgiveness doesn’t mean you’ll get it. Seeking forgiveness isn’t about you, it’s about the person you hurt and the suffering you caused. Don’t get miffed if they aren’t ready to forgive you. Keep praying and know you’ve honored God and the person by confessing the offense and seeking forgiveness.
Amends are powerful and digital amends can be life changing. The day my sworn enemy graciously forgave me lifted a tremendous burden from my heart. It also taught me about the persistent power of sin to divide and the far stronger power of Love to restore.
It’s been two years since I sought forgiveness and received it online. My “new” Facebook friend and I aren’t BFFs but we do operate in social networks (very publically) in grace and healing rather than regret and bitterness. The best part: I get to go on her Facebook page from time to time, see her beautiful life unfold, pray for her and her family, and wish her Happy Birthday. And mean it.
Do you have amends to make? What’s holding you back?
Post/tweet this today:
Amends are powerful and digital amends can be life changing. Move in wholeness and holiness today—make amends. #LiveSticky
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