I was driving home from the post office when I heard this beautiful story on Colorado Public Radio. Fifty-one-year-old Larry Israelson sought out his past favorite middle school teacher to try and make amends for having dropped his teacher’s class without explanation. That act alone would have made for an interesting story. What made Larry’s story notable was that after 39 years, Larry located his teacher, Mr. Atteberry and actually made amends.
What struck me was Larry Israelson’s genuineness. He had no ulterior motive. As a result of Larry’s actions, his children were able to witness their father model integrity and loving-kindness. Furthermore, because of Larry’s actions, other people who hear the story are now looking at their own lives, experiences, and relationships and seeking to make amends.
Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Coming forward with an open heart is what begins the healing process. In Larry’s story, Mr. Atteberry mirrored an open heart and sealed the deal.
Unfortunately, sometimes our own packages aren’t tied with a pretty bow. For instance, sometimes the following alternatives can occur:
- We may seek to make amends with someone, and we get the door slammed in our face.
- We may wish we could have made amends with someone, but the person has died.
- We just can’t bring ourselves to initiate communication.
The outcome of seeking forgiveness can be a glorious thing. Yet, I don’t believe that being forgiven is what’s most important. Although a happy ending makes for a lovely news story, here are a few other options:
- You can apologize regardless of the outcome.
- If the person with whom you wish to make amends has died, you can begin the process of self-forgiveness.
- You can write down what you’d like to say.
In life, even small actions are steps toward peace. For instance, I’m learning that breathing through pain—instead of fighting or defending oneself—is peaceful.
Making amends is healing, so go ahead and reach for that beautiful package. It could happen… Come on, I heard it on the radio! Click here if you’d like to listen to Larry’s story.
IT’S ABOUT YOU:
- To whom do you need to open your heart and make amends?
- What small step can you take today to begin your own healing process?
- How would your life—or day—be different if you stopped carrying the pain that results from not making amends?
Author: Dr. Lorie Gose