The importance of repentance in a relationship has been acknowledged as critical to freedom and peace of those involved. Perhaps, the question now is how one can repent from a wrongdoing inflicted in a relationship. The process of repentance for all offences is the same whether one is repenting from disobedience to God’s commandments or to parents’ counsel or from hurting a relationship partner.
There is conditions precedent to repentance and there is a process. The condition precedent to repentance in whatever scenario is self-examination. Both the scriptures and philosophers have called upon human beings to regularly examine their lives. It is this examination of one’s life that would show that there is something wrong in it. This self-examination generally leads to the process of repentance, which include:
- Acknowledgement - The first act in the process of repenting from wrongdoings is to acknowledge that we have done something wrong. The key to acknowledging wrongdoing is to examine our lives, our relationships, our conducts, our attitudes regularly and see how much it serves the general good of all involved in the relationship or how it hurts, distorts or disrupts the relationship. As soon as you take this step, your inner spirit would tell you what is wrong in the union. There is the need to pray for the humility to accept that something is wrong. This is usually the hardest part of it all. We all know when we have gone wrong 90 percent of the time. It is actually the self that is the obstacle to progress. Therefore, acknowledging wrongdoing or confessing to oneself is actually the hardest.
- Regret - The second act is for the offender to feel sorry and sorrow for the wrongdoing. The offender must come to the point of regretting the act deeply in his or her soul. He or she should be remorseful and show it by an overt act.
- Admit before your partner or spouse - The next critical stage is to admit the wrongdoing before the one who has been offended or hurt by your act or omission. The challenge is usually to be able to be humble enough to accept responsibility. When we accept responsibility, the hardest part of the work is done. The confession should be expressed in words before your spouse or partner. It is not appropriate through a third party. You may start through a third party, but you must do this face to face so that the hurting one would be able to feel the spirit of it from you and not just the words or phrases on paper or through another person. This is the time to apologize and this naturally leads to the next act in the process.
- Ask to be forgiven – There is need to expressly ask to be forgiven. When you do, mean that you desire to be forgiven.
- Desist from the act – One of the best ways to know that someone has repented of a wrongdoing is that he or she turns away from doing that which is wrong.
- Increase your love for the offended – This is a part of the repentance process that is largely ignored. However, you ignore this stage to your peril. It is like the scriptural possessed man who was exorcised of an evil spirit. Because he left himself without reasonable activity of positive nature, the evil spirit was said to have come close and found out that the house he vacated is still vacant and therefore went and invited seven of his brothers to come and join him to repossess the unoccupied mind of the individual and restart his torment. When we have wronged a partner or spouse and have been able to acknowledge and gone through the other stages in the process of repentance, we should make the effort to increase our love for the partner or spouse. If not, those acts of wickedness, misconduct and mistakes would rear up their ugly heads again, this time, in a more ferocious manner.
Repentance is as balm used to dress a sore wound. It soothes and heals. Get jars of this balm and keep them in store against the day you would need them in your relationship.