You did it. You’ve hurt someone. The guilt of the situation is weighing down on you but you don’t know what to do. You know you need to confess and apologize but it’s awkward and you don’t know how. So you sweat. You may end up doing nothing and the tension just increases over time.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING IS A PRIDE KILLER AND A NECK BENDER.
Here are the Seven A’s of Confession, taken from Peacemaking Principles, created by Peacemaker Ministries. They are based on the methods God gave to us in Romans 12:18, Matthew 7:3-5, 1 John 1:8-9, Proverbs 28:13. Take the time to read those because they make all the sense in the world and they really do help!
ADDRESS everyone involved
AVOID if, but, and maybe
ACKNOWLEDGE the hurt
ACCEPT the consequences
ALTER your behavior
ASK for forgiveness
Just a word about each one.
ADDRESS everyone involved – You may need to apologize to more than just one person. How many have been affected by what you did?
AVOID if, but and maybe – When you say,
“I’m sorry IF…..” or
“I’m sorry BUT…” or
“MAYBE I was wrong when……” –
NO! you have just erased the apology. If, but and maybe are called qualifiers in an apology and they negate the attempt to say you’re sorry. Never ruin an apology with an excuse.
ADMIT what you did SPECIFICALLY. Saying “I’m sorry for what I did” is too broad and simply insufficient. You must be willing to own every piece of your offense.
ACKNOWLEDGE the hurt you caused someone. How did you cause pain? You might need to ask exactly how what you did caused pain. There might be hurt you have no idea you caused, so it’s wise to simply ask the other person to help you by telling you this.
ACCEPT the consequences the injured party may feel are necessary. Maybe you can’t be close friends anymore. Maybe you will need to build trust again before the relationship can be fully restored. Even when God forgives us, He always exacts consequences for our wrongdoing.,
ALTER your behavior. What did you do to cause harm – STOP IT!
Don’t do that anymore!
ASK for forgiveness… this step is often left out of the whole ordeal… ask to be forgiven. This is the bowtie that will put the ball in the other person’s court and will help them to move forward by forgiving you.
Sometimes it helps to walk through these steps with someone before you confess it to the person(s) you have hurt. Consult someone you trust and talk about it with them first.
Now go apologize.