Amends – What Do They Look Like?

I’m returning to our series on forgiveness this week by highlighting how to make amends, as well as, how to determine if the amends are being fulfilled. I’m taking much of what I’m going to discuss from Beyond Boundariesa great book for anyone seeking to rebuild a damaged relationship and it’s currently bargain priced for $1.49 through CBD!

Amends MakingAmends are about demonstrating “authentic transformation” so that we can trust the other person again and potentially reconcile. I’m going to address this from the viewpoint of the one who is requiring the amends and for the sake of simplicity, making the one who is making the amends a “he.”

John Townsend says there are four key evidences for “authentic transformation” …

  • Confession – Amends-Maker {or “AM”} is sincere and specific about how he hurt you.
  • Ownership – AM is clear on what changes he will make.
  • Remorse – AM clearly demonstrates and communicates sincere sorrow and grief over the hurts inflicted.
  • Changed Behavior – evidenced through the following three areas …


1. Change in Targeted Behaviors – the AM is ceasing the targeted or offending behaviors and replacing them with positive, healthy behaviors. In order for this to occur there must be a true “change of heart” not just behavior. Ask yourself: What evidence do I see in the AM, that he fully “understands the changes” he must make? and How accepting does the AM seem to be to do what it takes to change?

2. Change in Behaviors that Drive More Change – Often a behavior is difficult to immediately change, due to various factors. But you will want to see evidence that your AM is taking the need for change seriously by making proactive choices. In other words, is the AM finding ways to support the needed changes like, enlisting and staying connected with an accountability partner, going to counseling, reading books on a related topic, etc.?

3. Sustained Change – This is the ultimate goal of amends-making. You will want to see the changed behavior become the rule rather than the exception.* We often get in a hurry either to see change or to make change. But changed behaviors are strengthened over time and with practice, so determine a realistic expectation and time-frame when accessing this. {It should look more like 6 to 12 or more months at a minimum, than 6 to 12 weeks, by the way!}

Dr. Townsend gives some key times to observe and access this change …

  • When the AM is under stress.
  • When the two of you disagree.
  • When the AM is with his family.
  • When the AM is tired.
  • When YOU are under stress or tired—how does the AM handle this?


Dr. Townsend gives a bottom line that I believe is crucial …

“You don’t just want to see improvement. You want to see transformation.”


If that’s true, then we must turn to God to be the power behind our changed behaviorboth in the requiring and the making of amends!


What is your biggest fear or question regarding requiring amends?


What/Who has helped you to gain clarity on making or requiring amends?


*Always seek objective help when working to determine and monitor any amends for major offenses or abusive behaviors. A counselor is absolutely critical in many situations involving the rebuilding of trust.

Click on this link if you’d like to read the previous post in this forgiveness series – When a Boundary Conversation Fails.

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19 responses to “Amends – What Do They Look Like?”

  1. Do you know what I appreciate most about this series, Beth? You remind us that forgiveness is a process, and it takes work. There’s nothing simple about it, and it’s natural to struggle through the steps of forgiveness. Ultimately, God gives us the power to forgive – and that makes perfect sense, since he is the one requiring it of us in the first place. Thank you for your deliberate and thoughtful attention to this topic here, my friend!


    1. That’s such a great observation, Becky! As I’ve written this series, I’ve also realized that forgiveness issues are so complex and topics and explanations of those topics could go on and on! No wonder people struggle with this! I’ve got a lot of this up in my head and still fail probably more than I succeed. Thankfully there’s God’s grace to fill in the huge gaps that we leave in the process. So yes, God is the One who binds this all together. After all, without His great example and sacrifice, we would have no idea what this looks like or want to find out! Thanks so much for your kind encouragement, my friend!


  2. […] Sharing with Wedded Wednesday. […]


  3. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    I agree with Becky – this is a great series, and the emphasis on process is so important!

    One more thing about amends – and I think this is vital – is that the one making amends have no expectations about their acceptance,no quid pro quo.

    None at all.

    When I destroyed my marriage, I entered therapy immediatey, horrified at what I’d done. I left my ex-wife’s name on the bank account, and encouraged her to use it when she needed to. NOT because I wanted to impress her, but because these were the right things to do – the counseling, for me, the financial stuff, for her.

    Yes, the marriage was reborn, but I was going to go the distance with counseling until I could look in a mirror again. And if she decided to strip the account (as I’d been warned she would – and she was advised to do that) it would have been justice.

    That said, looking at it from the other side, I think we have to be careful not to set impossible barriers if we’re even remotely open to reconcilliation.

    The media’s no help here. So many TV shows and movies describe ulterior motives and duplicity, treachery and falseness.We’re conditioned to be suspicious…after all, the PI in whose path our imagination walks catches the Black Hat by being hard and cynical!

    Can we imagine a trusting Mike Hammer? An open kelsey Milhone (Sue Grafton’s ‘Alphabet’ heroine)?

    We’ve got to be fair. If we look at ourselves and realize that we’re going to increae the Amends Marathon from 26.2 miles to 100, and oh, yes, with the ankles in flexcuffs…it’s better to say, “Sorry, there’s nothing you can do to make it better, and I’ll never accept your transformation as genuine. Tough luck.”

    And then we have only to square that attitude with God. Another ‘tough luck”, perhaps?


    1. Andrew, you make an excellent point about the quid-pro-quo expectations. Too often, the abuser falls back on these crazy expectations…”Since I haven’t intentionally gone out of my way to deeply wound you in at least a week, now you have to stop acting distant and start being warm and affectionate toward me.”

      Another common tactic is to start dismissing an entire history of abusive patterns as “in the past” even if the last occurrence was only last week. As in, “Why do you have to always focus on the past? I can’t change what’s in the past. Why can’t it be enough that I’m being nice, now?”

      Thank you for being so transparent in sharing your story.


    2. Thanks so much for your engagement each week with my posts, Andrew. I think your observation about the depth or level of amends-making is so good true and should’ve been mentioned here. Of course, when it comes to that kind of situation, a counselor can be the best guide in determining what’s to be offered, holding the guilty party accountable. It sounds as if you definitely demonstrated the “ownership” and “remorse” that is so important to this process. Not many would have that kind of humility and surrender in this kind of situation, my friend! BTW, I’m still praying for you! I hope that you feel God comforting you each moment!


      1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser Avatar
        Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

        It’s an honor to be able to take part – I do appreciate the prayers, and have lately felt more peace with the situation. God bless!


  4. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Aha, so I’m not the only one who writes post late the night before they’re due!


  5. My biggest fear is sustaining the change as daily life struggles threaten to get in the way. I agree that the greatest common factor in this process is God who seeks us and will walk along side us to initiate and sustain change. As I was reading the list of evidences for authentic transformation, I paused over the word “ownership”. This one word is so powerful and yet so hard to embrace in our own lives. Thank you for staying the course in this series and as always, thank you for the Wedded Wednesday link up. Blessings and hugs!


    1. Yes, that’s the hardest part too, Mary. That’s why it’s important to have a skilled and godly counselor in the mix when dealing with a major “boundary-buster.” Often those who are the biggest offenders find people who are easy targets and don’t know how to maintain healthy boundaries. I really like your observation about ownership. I do think that’s a topic that could be explored much more! Oh, heavens! This whole forgiveness series has so many potential directions that haven’t even been explored yet! But thankfully we have a loving God who enables us to do all that is necessary to forgive. Love ya, sister!


  6. Thank you, Beth, for another great post in this series on the process of forgiveness and reconciliation.

    “Authentic Transformation” Love this phrase! Yes, this is what it’s all about…and in the case of repetitive patterns of abuse, this is the only solution that could lead toward healthy reconciliation.

    I love your notes in regard to the need for accountablity and objective wisdom, as well as the importance of focusing on transformation, not just improvement.

    Thank you, for sharing your wisdom in this area.


    1. Don’t ya love that phrase, Joe?! It truly captures what God wants for us in this forgiveness process. Thanks for your encouragement here, my friend. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you!


  7. Yup! I get that! Some days I’m bleary-eyed from sun up to sunset! ha! Thanks for your kindness to me, Judith! It’s duly noted!


  8. Such a great series, Beth! I totally forgot to link up earlier so I am late! I love the quote about not wanting to see improvement but transformation. Because so often people will say they see improvement in a loved one for a week or two or even a few months, but it’s not real. It’s just a changed behavior to achieve a desired result, but it doesn’t last when it’s only done to appease and not because someone believes they need to change.

    The sad thing is that so many people are willing to just give up on their marriages without even attempting to “fight” for them. They believe they have fought for their marriage already because they’ve stayed in the marriage for so long, but they really haven’t done anything to try and improve the communication or work on the problems. And often, when someone truly does change, it’s too little too late. The other person has already made up their mind that they’re leaving and is not interested in reconciling.

    But there ARE people who do remain true to their commitments and are willing to seek the Lord and seek help to work things out, and they can be a light and encouragement to others! 🙂 Thanks for hosting today, my friend!


  9. […] Click on the link to go directly to the previous post in the forgiveness series – Amends – What Do They Look Like? […]


  10. […] my guard down? You can refresh your memory on what to consider in this kind of dilemma at my “Amends What Do They Look Like” […]


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