Sooner or later, we all find ourselves needing to say the words “I’m sorry.” We’ve talked about the importance of forgiveness, but what if you are the one who needs to be forgiven? None of us are perfect. Chances are there will be a time when we hurt or cause someone grief, whether it’s intentional or not. How we react in that situation is a true sign of our character.
In order to truly make amends, it often requires more than just an “I’m sorry.” As Father Moon explains, “In order to recreate something, you need to invest even more energy than that originally invested in its creation.”
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Trust lost in seconds takes a lifetime to rebuild?” That’s what Father Moon is talking about here. Once the original bond is broken, it takes a much greater effort to restore. We call this process indemnity.
In a biblical sense, when Adam and Eve fell away from God, the ideal of a loving family and peaceful world was lost. Since then, people have had to make great effort to connect back with our Heavenly Parent.
Father Moon often talks about indemnity on a large scale—how it relates to societies, nations, and all of humankind—but he teaches that the same rules apply on an individual level as well. For all of our missteps, big or small, follow these four steps to help make amends and re-create what was lost:
Admit When You Are Wrong
One of the biggest mistakes Adam and Eve made was not just disobeying God, but hiding from him, trying to conceal their mistake, and blaming each other instead of taking responsibility. Owning up to our mistakes is a sign of maturity and the first step towards making amends.
Most of us can tell when “I’m sorry” isn’t authentic. It’s important to say the words, but also to show that we understand the pain we’ve caused. When we ask for forgiveness in a sincere way, it allows the other person the opportunity to forgive, and gives us a chance to make a new commitment.
Indemnity requires action. As Father Moon tells us, “Since repairing something requires more effort than creation, that extra amount must be paid through a condition called indemnity.” Say you forget your spouse’s birthday. Normally, he or she would have been happy with a card and a small token, but since you forgot, you may have to plan a big night out to make up for it. It’s not just about the gift, but putting in effort to show that you care about the other person’s feelings.
Don’t Give Up
If you are serious about making things better, you have to be willing to do the hard work. Sometimes a sincere apology for a minor offense is enough to repair a wrongdoing. Other times, an equal amount of indemnity is required, like replacing an item you’ve broken or lost. Often though, especially when hurt feelings are involved, we are required to take on a greater amount of responsibility. You might just have to do all the chores for a month after lying to your parents, or bake a cake every day for a week after forgetting your spouse’s birthday. If the relationship is important to you, then it’s natural to be willing to go the extra mile.
It’s not always easy, or fun. As Rev. Moon reminds us, “Setting indemnity conditions is difficult, like taking bitter medicine.” It’s certainly a humbling experience to own up to our shortcomings, but that vulnerability is the same thing that makes forgiveness possible, and with it, a new start.