It is difficult to ask for forgiveness. Sometimes it’s easier to ignore the rift than to seek resolution by admitting wrong and asking, “Will you forgive me?” Some of our efforts are met with hostility and “No you are not sorry!” Other efforts are met with reconciliation and forgiveness. No matter how painful the process, seeking forgiveness is part of the human experience for we all make mistakes.
I have been teaching a DivorceCare class since February and I have discovered, The 7 A’s of Confession in their curriculum. I thought it would be a great bit of information to share. Let me first list the 7 A’s and then discuss them.
• Avoid the words, “if”, “but” and “maybe”.
• Admit specific attitudes and actions.
• Acknowledge the effects.
• Accept the consequences.
• Alter future behavior.
• Ask, “Will you forgive me?”
Often when we are backed into a corner we start with number 7, “Will you forgive me?” never having covered 1-6 and the person offended doesn’t have the answers or understanding they need to resolve the hurt. Sometimes we use “the God card” and say “I confessed, said I was sorry, so you HAVE to forgive me — God says so! That is not repentance but manipulation.
A healing confession begins with addressing everyone who was part of the offensive behavior. If the children were witness to one spouse verbally attacking another, then they should be in on the apology.
If you make excuses using the phrases “if you had not made me mad”, “but that’s not what I meant” or “maybe if you …” then you are not really offering a responsible apology.
Admit all attitudes and actions on your part that caused the rift.
Acknowledge the effects your actions had on the other person physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Accept the consequences your behavior set in motion. “I understand if I have lost your trust”.
Alter future behavior is an action of repentance. The etymology of the word repent, from Latin means “to feel such regret for sins or crimes as produces an amendment of life” In the Hebrew, Old Testament, it means, “to change one’s mind or consciousness.” In the Greek, New Testament, it means. “to change direction, to return, to turn back.”
If you apply the preceding six “A’s”, when you ask. “Will you forgive me?” it will work, and the process of restoration will begin.
We live in an offended world. Our skills of forgiveness and repentance must increase, or we will become trapped in bitterness. Our bitterness will become our identity and will keep us from moving forward. We will remain “parked” in the bitterness parking lot!
The scripture in Ephesians 4:32 ESV, challenges us to “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.”
Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” This has become one of my life goal scriptures. Life is too short for strife and contentions!
Consider the application of “The 7 A’s of Confession” in your life. A humility, freshness and freedom will become a part of who you are. Those closest to you will begin to trust you and your relationships will grow healthy and strong.