WEEK 5 (29-35)
In order to create a peaceful world, we must learn to practice nonviolence with one another in our day-to-day interactions.
Day 30 – AMENDS (Feb. 28)
Make amends today. Apologize to someone you may have hurt and mean your apology sincerely.
Making amends is not so simple as just a heart-felt apology. It’s a good start but hardly enough to correct for hurt. To amend something is to fix it, to put it back to right, to take the broken pieces and make whole again. Amends are more like atonement than confession.
Rebuilding a broken relationship or helping to give healing where there was hurt is rarely a one-time “I’m sorry” and it’s done. An apology is a start, a first step, but then follows action and effort and change.
Telling my kids I’m sorry for ten years of neglecting their religious education doesn’t mean a damn thing. And I don’t have a time machine to go back and correct my errors. All I can do is my best now and from now on.
Telling a friend I am sorry for the times I wasn’t there is a start. But then I have to follow up with being there now.
Apologizing to myself for having not taken care of me like I needed doesn’t un-do the damage done. Instead I take action to make the best of now. The writing I didn’t share, the words I never wrote, I write them now, I share it now.
This brings me to another topic that’s been in my mind recently: dealing with guilt. Guilt is often misused and gets a bad rap. But someone who hurts people, knows they hurt people, and does not feel guilt is a psychopath. Guilt should be a healthy clue to examine what we have done and how we have harmed people and learn and grow and make amends and ask for forgiveness. Guilt is a sign that we have a working heart and genuine empathy. It isn’t productive to wallow in my guilt for wrongs I have done nor is it useful to run from it or shrug it off. Guilt is relieved through humility and amends. An apology and an act of service to correct my mistakes is the best method I’ve found.
This does nothing to stop me from falling flat on my face over and over and over. Perhaps no one knows guilt and hurt like a mother does. We want the very best for our kids and our best is never quite enough to match our love and desire. I fully expect that at least once today I will fail and fail miserably. And today I only get to have them for half an hour after school before they go see Icks.
When I think of my academic or career record I haven’t failed often enough to know how to fail. When I think of myself in the context of close relationships, family and dearest friends, I’m an expert failure. Every single day. Several times a day. I’m a professional failure. Sometimes I am short-sighted and self-centered and hurt people. Sometimes I am careless or tired or foolish and I hurt people. Frequently I am overwhelmed and overworked and functioning on an empty tank with no help in sight and I hurt people. This could quickly become paralyzing. Sometimes it is paralyzing. Relationships that endure seem to have built-in tolerance for being fallible human beings. And lots of room for making amends and mistakes both.
Now, I have to figure out how to go write yesterday’s forgiveness letter. Accepting that we are guilty of causing hurt and harm and desperately need forgiveness makes it much easier to extend forgiveness to those who hurt us.