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Making Amends to Those We Love the Most

Making Amends to Those We Love the Most

If he has sinned and has realized his guilt and will restore what he took by robbery or what he got by oppression . . . he shall restore it in full and shall add a fifth to it, and give it to him to whom it belongs on the day he realizes his guilt. Leviticus 6:4-5

In my drug addiction, I hurt my wife more than anyone else. So, when I got sober, a tremendous shame fell upon me as I began to comprehend what I’d done. I’d broken her trust, embarrassed her publicly, upended her life, and robbed her of any sense of security that she ever had. I carried my shame to treatment where others encouraged me to dismiss my shame in an act they called self-forgiveness. God’s forgiven me. I’ve forgiven me. I feel great. You should try it. I couldn’t articulate it at the time, but I’ve come to understand my shame better now in retrospect. I was never going to be able to find peace about hurting my wife until I’d done everything I could to restore that which I’d taken away.  God may have forgiven me, but I’d still done a terrible thing and, though I couldn’t undo the past, I had to figure out a way to make amends.

Amends is the topic of today’s passage in which God instructed his people to restore that which they’d taken from a neighbor. If they robbed someone of something, they were to return it, restoring that loss while adding a fifth to it. They were to go above and beyond the original theft to make things right. They weren’t to rest until they’d made appropriate amends.

So, what did that look like in my marriage? When I got out of treatment, I wanted to fix things immediately, but that was impossible. To give my wife back that which I’d taken away, simply couldn’t be done overnight. To restore that which I’d stolen from her, took years. It was a slow process, but I realized that the thing my wife needed most from me, was simply to find faith and recovery. So, I set out to be a completely different person. Daily, I attempted to abandon my will to follow God’s will. I didn’t – and still don’t – do it perfectly, but seeking his will has transformed everything about me, allowing me to put my life back together, which is what my wife required from me. The only way to restore those things I’d taken from her was to become the kind of person she needed me to be. And that is how I made amends to the person I love the most.

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