Monday, July 18, 2011

Righting Wrongs and Taking A Different Road

Late last year, I fell out with both a close friend and neighbor. Looking back, whatever occasioned our disagreement in such an intense manner now looks trivial, even shameful.

This month, we reconciled and as of yesterday, we are like the best of friends with a renewed friendship, lots of respect and selfless kindness. It is my hope that we infinitely remain that way.

Making Amends

In January 2009, I watched an episode of CSI where a guy lost his life after he tried to make amends. In the episode 'Killer' (CSI s6e14), Karl Cooper, upon his release from prison after serving seven years for robbery, kills the guy who ratted him out. Ironically, it is this victim who had actually contacted Karl, since he was '12 stepping'. An attempt to make amends sadly cost him his life.

Thinking about the aforementioned episode, I wrote a Facebook Note in February 2009, in which I explored the following two steps:

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Apparently, making amends can also be self harming, as Karl's victim came to find out.
With that in mind, I am usually torn between whether or not to make some amends that have been pending for a while... My excuse being that those who crafted step 9 forgot to include "injure us" as a result of seeking to make amends.

There are two very interesting things to making amends:
I. Whenever you make amends, a very big weight is lifted off your shoulders. While it's especially hard for some people to make amends, eating humble pie, stooping low and being bold enough to accept wrongs were committed and acknowledge the need for closure is all it takes. And it may surprise you that those you once wronged actually have no ill feelings at all.

II. It's worth noting that making amends may not always turn out well. Like our victim in CSI, those you once wronged may be quite unwilling to forgive and let go. Some may even see this as an opportunity to revenge and/or punish you. But take heart. The apostle Paul talks about maintaining a clear conscience. Once you do your part, God will handle the rest. "And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men" - Acts 24:16 (KJV).

My friends, I now urge you to go out and make amends. Remember that colleague you back-stabbed the other day? Or that guy you still owe money? What about that childhood friend you lost courtesy of a few careless words? And do you have any issues between you and God that are still unattended?
Take the bold step number 8. But be careful, and ensure your decision is informed by the (somewhat incomplete) insurance that step 9 accords you before you go making any amends.

All in all, purpose to secure a clear conscience before both God and men. That is what matters after all. Regardless of how it turns out.

A Different Road
Upon effecting such far reaching change in life,  it is necessary to ensure that offenses are not repeated. There must be a complete deviation in lifestyle, habits and anything else that led to the mistakes that needed to be corrected.

At this point, one needs to take a different road. For the simple reason that you might end up being too slow while attempting to run ahead.
Only then does sustained and meaningful change happen. When we humbly and sincerely right wrongs.



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