You never plan to, many times it just happens. We have all hurt people, whether intentional or not; whether directly or not. Causing someone pain, unless you are a sociopath, is painful in and of itself. I’ve definitely been in both pairs of shoes. I’ve been the guy hurt, and I’ve been the one doing the hurting. I’ve been the one betrayed by friends and family who threw me under the bus, losing my respect. I’ve also been the guy possibly forever destroying my image to people who actually may have respected me. All and all, the truth still stands: we hurt people.
What do I do when I’ve hurt people? The answer is quite simple, but perhaps the hardest thing to do:
Yes, I should say I am sorry. Yes, I should show remorse. Perhaps even genuine tears must be shed, but the bottom line is, I must repent.
I’m sure you are asking, what’s the difference between remorse and repentance? Remorse is an emotion, while repentance is an act of love. Love is not a feeling or emotion, love is a decision. A conscious decision. Therefore, I must decide to repent, meaning to turn from that thing that hurt the person I love. This is actively removing myself from that thing that hurt them.
Here is an important thing to note, forgiveness is up to the people I hurt. If they forgive me, great. If they have to let ME go, in order to let “IT” go, that has to be ok too. Even if they can never accept my apology, or acknowledge my repentance, I must turn anyway. The fruit of repentance is far more valuable. When I repent, I grow, I change, and I come closer to the person God created me to be.
Paul wrote to the Corinthian church : “I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation …” (2 Corinthians 7:9-10a)
So when you hurt someone, don’t waste your time trying to defend yourself. Don’t get caught up in the arguments. Don’t shift the blame nor point fingers. Own it and turn.
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