Today is going to feel a bit like a page out of the Alcoholic Anonymous handbook. In the “Twelve Step” program, steps number 8 and 9 are about identifying those who your habit has hurt and about making direct effort to make amends.
Direct. As in sitting down and actually having a conversation about what happened, not just changing how I act and hoping they notice.
Can I just be honest with you? I really struggle with this. I can tend to be one of those people who knows my intentions and doesn’t care if someone else reads it wrong. If I step on someone else’s toes, my first response is “well, you shouldn’t have had your foot there.”
My mind runs a very logical course. If you are offended, then obviously, you misunderstood me. This is clearly your problem.
So, I’m not the best at sitting down and trying to fix things, especially things that involve emotions. I tend to come at those conversations very stoic and borderline cold-hearted. I’ll ask for examples and my pet phrase is, “Let’s look at this logically.” Drives people nuts.
This act of reaching out to restore broken relationships is difficult for me. It is likely difficult for many of us. But it is necessary, because a relationship cannot heal if only one of you is healing.
Sure, you may be making huge strides and moving forward. You may be porn free, and really growing, but there was that moment when you lashed out at your mother in anger. You said some things you really didn’t mean and you know you cut her deep.
Oh well, you think, the past is in the past. She’ll get over it.
No. The action is in the past. The brokenness of that relationship is very much present.
If you knock a vase off a counter it doesn’t hit the ground, shatter, and then miraculously put itself back together. You can’t stand there, looking at all the broken pieces and say, “It was just a little fall. Get over it. It was an accident.”
This is a step that is difficult. We have to utter words that we really may not like saying, “I’m sorry, please forgive me.” No excuses. No, “I’m sorry, but you really need to respect my space” or “I’m sorry, but you should know better than to ask such personal questions.”
There are no “I’m sorry, but…”s. The second you stick that “but” on there, you have begun to justify your actions.
Today is all about building bridges, about making peace with those who have been hurt by your habit. Be intentional about this. Relationships are intentional- regardless of what type they are.
- Apologize. Those five people on that list. Those five relationships that you cherish but know you have hurt. Those five people who have already given you their first impression and where they feel the relationship is heading. Call them. Talk to them. Set aside five minutes today to reach out to each of them. Start building those bridges again. Think of specific times you have hurt them or specific attitudes toward them and simply apologize. You don’t have to confess your sin if you aren’t comfortable with that. We’ll talk about that later. This is just acknowledging that you aren’t treating them right.
You call your best friend, “Abby, I’m so sorry that I have been so distant lately. I know you need a good friend and I haven’t been there for you because I’ve been so stuck on myself. Please forgive me.”
“Mom, I am sorry that I’ve been so angry lately. I didn’t mean to lash out at you. Please forgive me.”