“The only thing that takes more work, tears and sweat than division is reconciliation.” – Shane Claiborne
You are not sure where to begin. You’ve forgiven another person’s words, actions and misdeeds, but you can not decide if you want them in your life anymore. There are so many parts of being together that you find life-draining, overwhelming. You have done the hard work before God of letting the debt of revenge and justice go. You have given the need to be heard and understood into the hands of the One who sees all and forgives all. But now you have to make a choice: will you or won’t you be reconciled one to another. Will you work with that offending/offended person to promote peace for you both?
“Forgiveness takes one; reconciliation takes two.” – Cloud and Townsend
While forgiveness is a process between me and God; reconciliation is the expression of forgiveness between two people. This is hard work. You are making an intentional decision to shake hands, make it right and work towards a hope-filled future or you are choosing to walk away and let it be. Nothing is more excruciating then reconciliation. Nothing is more dangerous than walking into a room with someone who has harmed you and allowing them to be heard, while speaking your truth to them in turn.
It requires a lot of patience, active listening skills and the ability to be wrong or possibly hurt again.
I have a previous friendship that hangs in that world of being estranged. When she walked out my front door three years ago I prayed that we would be able to continue to be friends. I understood that it would take a lot of work on both our parts. I spoke some difficult things into her life, but my intention was not to harm her. For me it was never about being right or rubbing her nose in filth. My heart yearned for her restoration and healing. I was praying we could be more than surface friends. She walked out that door, got in her car and did not talk to me again. I did not have the opportunity to speak to her face, “I am sorry you were hurt.” She never offered those words in return. I never had the chance to hug her again or hear her laughter. It didn’t matter how many times I called, how many messages I sent or what I said. She did not want to hear it. She turned her face from me, from us.
It would have been bearable if our conflict had been between just as, as grown women. But as is often the case a swirling of gossip and lies, half-truths and angry silence turned a difficult conflict into a deep fracturing of lives.
While I have forgiven before God the actions of those who harmed and crushed the heart I had brought before them, it would take a drastic change of heart for us all to have that ideal of reconciliation. It would take a humble willingness to promote peace. It would take a setting aside of egos to admit that we were all wrong.
“We do not open ourselves up to the other party until we have seen that she has truly owned her part of the problem. So many times Scripture talks about keeping boundaries with someone until she owns what she has done and produces ‘fruit in keeping with repentance’ (Matt. 3:8). True repentance is much more than saying ‘I’m sorry’; it is changing direction.” – Cloud and Townsend
It would be amazing to sit with someone you have harmed or has harmed you and be able to speak truth to one another in love. It would bring God glory to allow forgiveness to come from both sides of a conflict so that revenge, bitterness, and anger are no longer present. But this does NOT always happen.
What I have learned is that when it feels hopeless and overwhelming the only place to take the swirling vortex of hurt is before the throne of God. He is the only one that tests and knows all hearts, He is the only one that does desire reconciliation and above all else love… and ultimately He is the only one we can trust with all of us. He can redeem what has been broken for the good of all involved, if we let Him.
Be reconciled to God and allow Him to show you what is next.
“For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and people. He is the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5 NLT