This week Michelle shared her story of choices that hurt her and her children, and how she ran back to His love. She shared how those choices were still impacting her children, though she changed years ago.

This week’s challenge is for all of us who have impacted a loved one with a choice that we regret.

  • Don’t make excuses
  • Sincerely apologize
  • Make amends
  • Start fresh

Not too long ago a woman told me how she had invited people (years earlier) into her home that had harmed her children. Now, she was alienated from her grown children. She grieved over the separation.

“How did that impact them?” I asked.

She looked at me oddly. “We don’t talk about it. Why would we? I’m not that same person anymore.”

“Have you truly listened to the impact it had on your children?” I asked.

“They should forgive. I’m different now.”

Yes, they should forgive, but what if they don’t know how? What if forgiveness, as described by their mom, was to pretend like it never happened?

Many times we change and then expect others to change at the same rate.

I’m different. I’m new. Brand new. So should you be!

When they try to explain we either meet it with excuses (I didn’t know, it was because of him, it wasn’t my fault) or we try to point them to who we have become.

But in a sense, that just keeps that person trapped in the past. There’s no way to explain what took place, and how it affected them, or why it hurt.

What might happen if we listened without excuses, and really understood what it felt like from their view? It gives us a solid place to sincerely apologize, and if applicable, to make amends.

I’ll never forget when my mom asked me to describe what it was like to grow up in our home. I didn’t want to go there. I knew it would be too painful for her. But she insisted, and hours later we both sat on the couch, totally spent and our faces tear streaked.

“I’m so sorry,” she said.

The interesting thing is that I had come to accept that she saw it differently, that I may never receive an apology. I had ran after God’s healing regardless of whether anyone else changed or not.

I didn’t need an apology any more to love her fully. But it still was amazing that she offered it, and that she listened and truly was brave enough to hear what I had to say. It also allowed me (later) to hear how she struggled as a young mom, broken, in a haze of meds that made her feel like taking her life and sent her into spiraling rages.

Once you listen, really listen, even if it’s painful, and you apologize, and you make amends, you are free to start fresh. You’ve done all that you can do, and you can pray and hopefully rejoice with your loved one in their healing process.  But you are free to embrace God’s grace so that joy marks your life, rather than regret over the past.

So, this is your challenge.

Have you truly listened? Have you sincerely apologized? Have you made amends?