Sandy felt horrible. She’d overcome a swell of temptation meant to justify hiding her mistake, and now she wanted to show her boss how sorry she was.
But how do you demonstrate genuine repentance? What would symbolize the sincerity of her sorrow for costing him time and money?
She decided to risk knocking on his door one more time.
“Come in,” a pleasant tone breezed his voice.
It boosted her confidence, so Sandy poked her head in the door. “Do you have a minute, sir?”
He glanced at his watch, “I can spare ten. Have a seat.”
Sandy took the cushy sage shaded chair in front of his desk. She stilled her squiggly fingers and made eye contact. “I feel so bad about the cost to you and our company from my mistake. I’d like to offer something to tangible to symbolize my regret. What small token could I give to show how sorry I am?”
Her boss waved his hand, “You’re paying the money back, and we’ll have the training video, that’s more than enough.”
At the video’s mention, Sandy cringed for a moment, but then steeled herself to continue. “It would mean a lot to me if I could do this. Do you have a special interest or hobby? Is there a meaningful memorabilia I could offer? Something you could see and touch, as a reminder of my promise not to do this again?”
His face flushed, and he cleared his throat a few times before answering. “I don’t believe I’ve ever had an employee make such as offer. I’m truly touched. You really don’t have to do this.”
Sandy started to respond, but was cut off as her boss was obviously not finished with his train of thought.
Crimson deepened across his neck and ears, “I love the sea. The pounding surf, the salty smells, the sandpiper’s squawk when you interrupt their foraging. And seashells.” He began to speak faster and his voice melted into that of a young boy filled with wonder. “I like the cracked and broken ones. The different colors. The varied sizes and shapes. To me they represent hope.”
“How’s that?” Sandy’s curiosity drew her into his story.
“The sea creates life out of death. When uninhabited shells are washed on the shore, the waves pulverize them into tiny grains of sand. The granules hide critters beneath their surface. They move from a singular unit holding one piece of life to blending with other shards to protect many breathing beings. There’s hope in the resurrection. It reminds me to look beyond immediate appearance and search for a new purpose when all seems lost.”
Seeming to realize where he was, Sandy’s boss shrugged with a boyish flourish.
“Inspiring, sir. Thank you for sharing your insights.” She nodded toward the clock on his desk, “I’d better let you get back to work. Thank you.”
Sandy stepped into the corridor. She knew exactly what she could do to symbolize her genuine sorrow to her boss.
In Teshuvah, V stands for validate.
Too often in today’s society, we think speaking words of repentance is enough. But unlike God, humans cannot see beyond outward appearance. When someone hurts us, we need proof of remorse. By finding out what’s important to the offended, and giving a small gift meaningful to them, we offer a symbol of godly sorrow.
There is danger at work when we don’t confess mistakes — though our emotions lie to us and tell us the opposite. Like waves pummeling seashells into sand, pulverizing our pride with confession offers the hope of resurrected integrity.
The Jewish community has known the tradition of repentance demonstrated for millennia. A turn from behaviors we come to regret.
And I can’t help wondering how different things might be if the general public exercised the formula of Teshuvah. I believe it is a secret to success for the Jewish people who practice it.
Accepting forgiveness, however, is a whole other issue, as Sandy will soon find out.
Do you show repentance when you know you’ve wronged another? If not, how could you begin?
Deuteronomy 6:8 (NIV)
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business Expert, Certified Personality Trainer, Communications Specialist, speaker, and writer. She lives in Missouri.
Contact her via www.freshstartfreshfaith.org or email@example.com