Growing up I was not always the nicest of people. In fact, I could be down right mean at times. I admit it. I picked on people. Now I hear what you are thinking, “If you picked on people, you must have been one the cool, snotty kids.” Believe it or not, I was not. If truth be told, I was anything but cool. But, I did possess the ability to get along with everyone. My school had distinct groups of students. We had jocks. They were the athletes. We had the heads. They were the ones who hung out in the smoking pit. Yup, that is what we called it. And we had the geeks. They were the smart ones who did what smart kids do.
Even with the ability to get along with others, I still could not resist the occasional chance to make someone else feel bad. I would picked on several people but, I had a favorite. I really don’t know why. Maybe I witnessed others do it. Maybe I felt like I was higher on the pecking order. Maybe it was just that mean streak coming to life. To be honest, it was probably a combination of several things. I just could not pass up the chance to pick on the person when the opportunity presented itself.
When I graduated high school, I immediately went to college. This occasional mean streak continued to rear its ugly head all throughout my undergraduate studies. I rededicated my life to Christ in graduate school and that’s when my behavior took a drastic change. The mean streak that had been such a big part of my life, was gone. I was a much softer and nicer person.
As my relationship with Christ grew stronger, I felt compelled to reach out to this person. I needed to make amends for what I had done in the past. Now, let me tell you. I did not want to make this call. I did not want to eat humble pie. Everything inside of me said let the past be in the past. But the longer I fought it, the heavier this weighed on me. And the words of Matthew would haunt me, 23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. 25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.
I knew that I could grow no further in Christ until I made amends. If I did not go backward to fix this, I could not go forward in my journey with Christ. So, I made the call. It was very humbling. The person was receptive and appreciative. The conversation went really well. And right after I hung up the phone, this this weight I was carrying lifted from me. I felt free. My forward progress was back. It was very encouraging!
Why did I write this? I know there are a few people who, like me, have some issues in the past they need to address. And I know, they have been putting it off. And I know, their progress with Christ is suffering. But if you really want to move forward, sometimes you have to go backward.
And on a side note, you are not responsible for how the person reacts. If you feel led to apologize, you do it humbly and if the person does not accept it, it is not on you. You did your part. All you can do is pray that God will soften the person’s heart, so he/she can make progress too.