When we are out of alignment with our nature and Nature itself, the way back is atonement. To atone is to bring back into harmony. It is an act to repent, show remorse, and repair a rift. It paves the way for forgiveness and reconciliation.
When you are mindful and present, it’s easy to feel the Oneness. This makes is also easy to feel when you are not in alignment. Anxiety, guilt, shame, and confusion are signs that all is not well. Perhaps it is simply a matter of gaining clarity. Or maybe it means it’s time for atonement.
Atonement is easiest when it’s swift and decisive. When you make a habit of apologizing and paying as you go, it doesn’t have to be hard or shameful. It’s just part of life. We break things and repair them. We hurt people and then soothe them. It doesn’t have to mean that we’re wicked, dirty, or beyond redemption. It just means we’re human. No mistakes means no growth.
Direct or Indirect Atonement
So, how do you make amends? Well, first keep in mind that atonement is about two things: making it right with you and making it right with the person that you wronged. There are times when doing this directly can cause more harm than good. For example, if they are unaware of the harm that you caused and knowing would create pain, it might not be a good idea to confess. If seeing you creates pain and dredges up old wounds, this could also be a bad idea. Sometimes the consequences of a direct act of retribution could lead to an innocent party being hurt, monetary loss, jail, deportation, or some other dire event. You really have to consider the big picture. This doesn’t absolve you from making amends. It just means that you don’t do it directly.
Making Direct Amends
When repairing a wrong, it makes sense to do something that actually addressed what was out of alignment and puts it right. Here are some suggestions.
- Acknowledge the wrong or hurtful act. “I did this” goes a long way in creating understanding for both you and the other party.
- Apologize. People notice when no words of contrition are spoken. Your own body knows when the words are not spoken or felt. Words can be powerfully healing. Speak them.
- If something is broken, fix it. If you dent a fender, fix it. When you lie, tell the truth. Focus on making the break solid again. You don’t fix a broken leg by giving the person gifts. You set the leg. It won’t heal otherwise. The same is true with all types of breaks.
- Don’t repeat the mistake. The most important part of atonement is to learn and grow. When you can do this, the mistake becomes the blessing that leads you to a better, stronger you.
Making Indirect Amends
When you can’t make amends directly, for example the wronged party is dead, can’t be located, or it would cause more harm than good, you’re not off the hook. Atonement is for bringing you back into Oneness too. So something has to be done. Here are some suggestions.
- Atone by proxy. If you were selfish, perhaps you can show generosity by donating to a charity or giving of your time or skills. If you were rude, you could work on your communication and compassion skills. You can show kindness to others.
- Vow to yourself to do better and follow through.
- Pray. Admit your wrong doing to your Higher Power. Ask for forgiveness, and do not repeat the mistake.
Did your mother ever catch you doing something and told you to apologize when you didn’t feel you were wrong? Mine certainly did! Atonement is for when you feel you have done something that creates misalignment. It must be sincere. When you apologize for things that you are not responsible for, it weakens you. True atonement strengthens you.
Timing is key. When making amends, you want to wait until your anger has passed and you are in a loving space so that sincerity can flow. Waiting until the other person is receptive can also make a huge difference. That said, sooner is generally better than later. When too much time has passed, the issue can get lost in more pressing things. It can become too easy to just forget about it and do nothing.
Act from love. Focus on repairing the wrong and restoring the relationship. If you blame, complain, or justify, your apology will be watered down. It may not be received. You could also miss out on the learning. You have to take full responsibility for your actions if you want to replace that behavior with something more effective.
Generally speaking, people are pretty receptive to atonement, but this isn’t always true. All you can do is offer it. Healing takes place on both sides. You are only responsible for your own healing. If the other person isn’t ready or willing, let it go, but don’t let it stop you from restoring your own balance.
Atonement creates a state of at-one-ment. It’s a way to bring you back into alignment with the All That Is. Don’t let embarrassment, fear, shame, guilt, or anxiety stand in the way of your oneness. It’s too important to your wholeness. Give yourself this gift.