“I did it again. I keep on doing the same foolish thing over and over again. What was I thinking? Lord, forgive me. You know my heart. You know my intentions. You know me. Sigh. Lord, what was I thinking? I wasn’t thinking; that’s the problem. I feel horrible. I’m sorry Lord. What was I thinking?”
Recently, the above monologue kept running through my head and I could feel myself becoming more and more dejected and dismayed. I wanted to make it right but… no, I just wanted to fix it. There’s a difference between wanting to make something right and just wanting to fix it.
When I want to fix something I’ve said or done, I basically just want to make it look like it never happened. I’m rowing down the Egyptian river of denial; refusing to face my shortcomings and sin.
However, when I finally own up to what I’ve said or done, it’s then that I’m willing to make it right. For me, “making it right” means doing the righteous thing. It means doing what pleases my Lord.
The first thing I do to “make it right” is get out of that old ancient river and grieve over what I’ve said or done. I acknowledge my sin before the Lord, stop covering it up and I confess it to him (Psalm 32:5). If I find myself doing this quickly, like I just want to get it over with, then I know I’m still rowing in the river.
Afterwards I read and pray what is true. I pray slowly and out loud passages like Psalm 103:8–14 (ESV) 8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
I will often pray through Scriptures, like Psalm 103, 32 or 51, a few times, not chanting it but just praying through it slowly, reaffirming and receiving his mercy and forgiveness for me because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Then, if my sin is against a person, when the time is right (sooner rather than later), I will apologize and ask for their forgiveness. I will try NOT to explain myself or give reasons for why I said or did something (because of our pride, this is very difficult to do!) because I find that when I explain myself, I’m usually just back in the “fixing mode”. I’ll say something like, “So-and-so, I’m sorry for not being honest with you. Please forgive me for deceiving you.” It’s better if you can identify what you are sorry for because it allows the person to know what they are forgiving you for, and if forgiveness is extended, you know what was forgiven. Know that your spiritual growth will be significantly stunted if you have sinned against a person and ask the Lord for his forgiveness but do not also ask for the person’s forgiveness.
After seeking forgiveness, you can rest in knowing that you did the righteous thing that was pleasing to the Lord. If they forgive you, a relationship has been mended and reconciled. If they don’t, at least you were making it right.