Several weeks after Sandy confessed her mistake, Dana approached her on their lunch break.
“Mind if I ask you a question?”
“Not at all what’s up?” Sandy said.
“You know that segment in our training video, the one where you didn’t get the report filed?”
How could she forget, the subject came up often enough. Sandy nodded yes and kept listening.
“How did you get the courage to tell your boss?”
Sandy pursed her lips and her chin puckered up as she reflected on the anxiety and fear that almost kept her from being honest. “It wasn’t easy. I almost didn’t.”
“But you did — eventually. Right?”
“Eventually, yes. I made a decision, resolved to face the consequences, and told him I’d missed the deadline.”
“Was he mad?”
“He wasn’t happy, but he didn’t yell at me or anything. I did have to suck it up when he wanted to make the video. I mean who wants their mistakes splashed on a screen for everyone to see? I was tempted to delay, or leave out my segment entirely. After all, I am in charge of scheduling the training materials.”
“You would have done that?”
“I didn’t, but I was tempted. I felt free once I decided to do the right thing, even though I was afraid of what might happen. I trusted that laying my head on the pillow with a clean conscience would help me get through whatever he did to me.”
“But everything turned out okay.”
“After I humbled myself and proved I was genuinely sorry. An important element was finding something I could give him to symbolize my regret, something meaningful to him.”
Dana leaned in, but didn’t interrupt.
“The hardest part was forgiving myself.”
“We all make mistakes.”
“True, but my original mistake wasn’t the issue as much as my internal urge to do things dishonestly. I hated myself for considering that kind of justification.”
“You’re too hard on yourself, a lot of people do much worse.”
“But it usually catches up with them, and they become edgy and bitter. Call me old-fashioned, but I want peace and joy. A ball of guilt in my gut will only keep me from the relief of making things right.
In the end, I learned to appreciate the fact that I didn’t give in to the temptation. That’s how I forgave myself. Now, is there a reason you got me started on this subject?”
Dana’s face flushed and she looked at her lap while she spoke, “I messed up, and I’m afraid of the repercussions. I know I should tell, they’ll find out soon enough, but I’m scared. I saw the video the other day, and that’s why I wanted to talk to you.”
Sandy smiled, “Take my word for it, it’s better to demonstrate your remorse honestly, than to live with a cloud of fear, never knowing if it will catch up with you later.”
Dana nodded, and though she still looked nervous, smiled back. “Maybe you could write your advice down. I’ll never remember on my own.”
“My pleasure.” And Sandy resolved to do just that.
The letter H rounds out our acronym for Teshuvah. Help others enjoy its freedom. Share the story of the pain you experienced from falling into sin, and the joy you felt when you received forgiveness. To turn away from mistakes and return to a place of wholeness.
To recap, here are the steps of Teshuvah in totality:
Take responsibility for the harm you caused
End the hurt and stop the offensive behavior
Sympathize with the wounded party
Humble yourself and accept the consequences
Undercut temptation by refusing to cross lesser lines of wrong-doing
Validate your genuine sorrow with a gift to symbolize your remorse
Accept forgiveness: from God, other people, and forgive yourself
Help others by sharing the benefits of practicing Teshuvah
Romans 2:4 (NIV)
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business Expert, Certified Personality Trainer, Communications Specialist, speaker, and writer. She lives in Missouri with her family.
Contact her via www.freshstartfreshfaith.org or firstname.lastname@example.org