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Making Amends

April 6, 2012

My friend George, who runs a substantial company, received a call last week from a former employee he hadn’t seen in thirty five years, right out of the blue.

“What did he want to talk to you about?” I asked.

My friend shrugged his shoulders. The last time they spoke, George had fired him for stealing petty cash from the office till, and he gave him a good talking-to. There were “character issues,” is how George put it.

“I bet it has something to do with me firing him,” he guessed.

“Maybe he wants to thank you?” We both cracked up laughing.

They made arrangements for a visit, and when he arrived, this gentleman handed George $100.

“I know it’s been a long time,” he said, “but I want to make amends for what I did back then. I know it was wrong.”

George accepted the money, along with the apology, and they both agreed he would give it to a charity.

Wow. Thirty Five years later, to track someone down, to pick up the phone and make a call to what must be an intimidating executive who surely thought you were an ass, to set an appointment, and then to drive 45 minutes in your car, to scarf up one hundred dollars, and hand it over? And – this part kills me – to own up to it, and say you’re sorry?

Such reconcilatory resolve. Such redemption initiative.

What was going on with this guy, I wondered. Was he going through therapy? Did this incident haunt him the rest of his life? We all make mistakes, for goodness sake. Was he unable to grow to the next stage of his spiritual development until he took care of this?

I don’t know, but he sure has me thinking about all the stupid things I’ve done and tried to forget.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. David @ Red Letter Believers permalink
    April 6, 2012 7:30 am

    There is something really cleansing to go back and right old wrongs.
    It’s healthy.
    It’s pure.
    It’s restoration of the soul

  2. April 6, 2012 8:53 am

    When I was a teen, I had a magazine subscription and a music subscription (remember Columbia House?) that I defaulted on. I mean, I was 14 or 15 and knew that I wasn’t legally responsible. It was only 20 bucks each, but it’s still always bugged me. I actually talked to someone to make sure that I wouldn’t have any negative credit repercussions if I tried to contact the companies and then pay them back. I really want to get that done sometime. I’ve been putting it off just because other things have been more pressing, but this post is re-inspiring me.

  3. pastordt permalink
    April 6, 2012 9:24 am

    Wow. That is impressive. I have no ill-gotten gains or unpaid bills in my past to regret, but I surely do have lots of words I’d like to remove from history. Maybe it’s time to make amends, as the folks at AA advise. Thanks for this, Bradley.

  4. April 6, 2012 12:14 pm

    it has me thinking of all my…um…things
    lots and lots of things
    for sure

  5. April 8, 2012 9:36 am

    Sort of an odd tangent but when I had my first child, I called a friend (who was still contemplating children) directly from the delivery room and told her how much pain I was in. She never had any children. I took her to lunch a couple of years ago to apologize for that call and to say that I truly hoped I hadn’t influenced her decision. She confirmed that it hadn’t but I’ve always worried and would never want to take the joy of parenting from anyone.

  6. Dan Black on Leadership permalink
    April 8, 2012 3:11 pm

    This is such a powerful story about being willing to forgive and asking forgiveness, no matter how long it has been. It takes humility to admit you are wrong and ask for forgiveness but it’s worth it. Great reminder.

  7. joshualake586878527 permalink
    April 9, 2012 6:00 am

    What a powerful story of making things right. Like you said, it has me both wondering what the guy was thinking or going through, and it makes me reflect on what I ought to make right in my own life.

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