Making amends is an important part of recovery and God's peace-making process. It involves engaging those you have hurt to do your part to repair the damage of your sin. A Biblical amends makes no excuse for your sin and carries no expectation of receiving any good in return from those you have hurt.
But what do you do when a face-to-face amends meeting is not possible or may cause more harm than good? Consider writing a letter.
Letters can be useful tools when making amends. Letters organize your thoughts before a face-to-face amends meeting. Using a letter can be a safe way to contact someone if you are unsure of his or her availability, or if a meeting could potentially cause greater damage. When someone is dead, unavailable or godly counsel advises against an amends meeting, an amends letter can be effective tool for healing. Read the example below of an amends letter from a dad to his child.
This is your dad. Until recently, I would not acknowledge that I had lost a child. But today, I need to be honest. My sin contributed to the loss of your life. When your mother told me she was pregnant, we were starting college. We were not married. We were terrified. I was selfish. I did not want to give up my life for anyone. I told her, “I will support your decision but I cannot be a dad now.” Then, I stopped talking to her. I cannot imagine what it was like for her to be alone at that time. A week later, she told me that our problem was taken care of—she had aborted you. Initially, I felt relief but then I could not forget you. Relief was replaced by guilt, then shame, then emptiness. Soon our relationship ended. I realize now you were not the problem to be taken care of—you were our child who we did not care for. My sin and selfish plans for life were my real problems. I was supposed to protect and provide for you. It was my job to care and be a voice for you. But, I loved me more than you, God or your mom. I was wrong. Over time, my emptiness grew. I tried to fill the void with everything until I finally broke. That’s when our Heavenly Father showed up to take care of my problem. He showed me that he loved me despite my sin. His Son laid down his life to pay for the sin that wrecked my life and yours. When I accepted Jesus’ sacrifice, I accepted God’s forgiveness for my role in your death and God began to heal me. I wish I could say this to you face–to–face, but a letter is the best I can do. Will you forgive me too? I cannot repay you but I can begin to honor your life. Until now, you have not had a name, a dad, or anyone other than God to love you and say that you matter. But, today I am naming you David. It means “beloved.” I will not be silent about you anymore, David. Your dad will tell the story of your short life, my sin, and God’s grace. I pray that God uses your life to protect others, to offer hope, to bring healing and to reveal his love and mercy. Your life matters. I love you. You will always be my son.
Romans 8:1-4, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."
Romans 13:8, "Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law."