I recently hurt someone’s feelings. We will all do this from time to time. We will all need to make amends. I don’t know if this is good or bad, but I’m getting pretty good at this. (Read: because I’ve had to do it a lot.)
So, here’s what you need to do.
Listen. If someone comes to you and tells you that you’ve hurt them, listen with an open heart, undefensively. This will be super hard, but this very well could be a learning tool for you. God might want you to change something in how you interact with people and this is your chance to learn that lesson.
Own it. If you did what the person is saying you did, outright say, “You’re right. I should not have done that.” (If you didn’t actually do or say what you’re being accused of, it’s okay to say that too.) But if you did it, say you did it.
Apologize. A sincere “I am so sorry” goes a long way.
Ask for forgiveness. A sincere “Will you please forgive me?” can also move mountains. Be prepared though if the person isn’t ready.
Repent. Repent simply means to turn away. So, in other words, acknowledge that this is a behavior that you want to change and you will work at doing so. And then, the next time the situation arises, hold your tongue or do the opposite thing.
And then you’re done. Honestly; you are done at this point.
Do not overapologize. I do this all the time, so I’m speaking to myself on this one. I recently apologized, if I had to count, thirty or forty times for one five-minute interaction. It was a bad five minutes, don’t get me wrong. But I apologized much more than was necessary. (I’m not sure why I do this, other than I hate when someone is upset with me.)
Do not force forgiveness. You cannot make someone forgive you. You cannot make someone forget and move on. You cannot keep someone from putting boundaries up against you. There is not one thing you can do about what the other person does once you’ve done your part.
Do not hold onto shame. Lord knows, this is me right now, so I’m going to have to re-read this sentence after I write it. Beg Jesus to help you not carry the guilt and fear around that is threatening to bury you.
And once you’ve done all you can to repair the damage, remind yourself over and over of a few key things:
Feelings are just feelings; they are not facts.
You are not the wrong thing you’ve done.
You are forgiven.
You are covered by grace.
Jesus died for everything you’ve done wrong. Everything.
You belong to God.
You’re only human. (And so is the person who is still mad at you.)
And even when you don’t feel it, you are free.