¿Habla español?

Forgiveness & Reconciliation

It's not easy to have a healthy mutually giving relationship that we enjoy with effective conflict resolution, is it? It's tricky because we cannot help the family we are given as children which shapes our perception of "normal" and "healthy" ways of relating and being with others. If our early family system has a higher degree of dysfunction and unhealth, that affects the relationships we choose. Perhaps we are in cycles of unhealthy relationships--codependent, enmeshed--with family and friends, which have caused a breach in relationship, and we are uncertain as to how to move forward.

Foundational to our faith, God IS reconciliation and restoration--He sent Jesus so we could be reconciled to Him and we are constantly being restored to Him through confession of sin, through receiving grace, through living out the abundant life he has for us. He has created us to be in relationships--some we are born into and some we choose. Whether with family or with those relationships we choose, conflict, hurt, and misunderstanding are inevitable. It is how we choose to respond that sets us on a trajectory for the relationship pattern and cycles so let us choose well, wisely, and Biblically.

One relational element that we are continuously called to engage in and that is necessary to live out healthy Christ-centered relationships is forgiveness. Forgiveness is a difficult calling; forgiveness is not about the other person, but rather, between us and the Lord. It is a calling to lay down our "right" to the offense and to give the offense and the offender to God.  We give all of that up in exchange for grace and healing directly from God. Of course, many situations call for both parties to personally confess and ask for forgiveness from the other; this is always encouraged as this aids in the healing process. And in order to reconcile in a relationship, forgiveness is a necessary step for both parties. You can't trust your partner if they don't confess and repent of the breach of trust.

Some folks have misgivings about forgiving and misunderstandings about what extending forgiveness means.  To clarify, forgiveness is NOT:
1. Forgetting what happened: sometimes we totally do forget what that fight was about or why we got offended, but we can't forget if our business partner stole money from us or if our parent ignored our plea for help as we were being sexually abused. We can still forgive while acknowledging the pain and move towards healing.
2. Excusing the behavior: forgiving someone doesn't mean we are saying what happened didn't matter. It absolutely impacted the relationship and the breach of trust, but again, we can forgive while acknowledging the pain and move towards healing.

Once you have forgiven that friend, spouse, or family member, and have had a meaningful exchange, we are in the healing process. Now is the time to consider reconciliation, but how do we know if the relationship--if we as people--are healthy and ready to restore the relationship? I believe a few indicators will inform your decision to move forward in relationship:
1. Repentance: Repentance means change. Has there been a shift, a change in heart? Has there been clarity? Have both parties observed and experienced a difference?
2. Boundaries: Sometimes boundaries need to be set as we live out the healing process. Are both parties able to agree and respect the designated boundaries? ie the wife has an affair so each goes to individual therapy and marriage counseling, they live apart, have agreed upon co-parenting duties, etc. Is everyone following through on the therapy, the living arrangements, the co-parenting?
3. Growth: We should always be moving toward health and healing, especially in a season of relational upheaval; this can look a myriad of ways depending on the mental, emotional, spiritual health of the individuals involved. We are always growing and transforming, and in relational strife, it is an apt time to take inventory of areas of development and growth. Some examples include joining a support or recovery group, seeking out pastoral counseling or a spiritual mentor, reading through some spiritual formation books on your inner life, committing to fasting and prayer, etc.

This is by no means an exhaustive "check list" of indicators--wise counsel is always suggested, along with much prayer. I impart hope to you and your relationships--no matter how difficult or dysfunctional they are--God can make a way, He can change hearts because nothing is impossible for Him.

A couple of suggested resources:
The Bait of Satan by John Bevere
Beyond Boundaries: Learning to Trust Again in Relationships by John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud

No Comments



1 Kings 12 Days of Christmas 20 minutes 2020 Acts Adonai American way America Antelope Valley Apostle Paul Apostle's Creed Bibile Bible study Bible Birmingham Book of Acts But God COVID-19 COVID Calvary Charlies Angels Christian Voter Guide Christian home Christmas Church Colossians Communication Confessional Prayer Corinthians Dallas Willard David Devotional Doing Life Together Eastertide Easter Ecclesiastes Emmanuel Ephesians Epiphany Esther Father in Heaven Father's Day Father Galatians God With Us God first God is good God of peace God still Moved God's Will God\'s Will Good Friday Gospel of John Gospel of Luke Gospel of Mark Gospel of Matthew Happy Father's Day Hawaii Hebrews Holy Spirit Hosea How are you doing How to Pray I want that Instagram Isaiah 43 Isaiah James Brown James Jenna Bush Hagar Jeremiah 29:11 Jeremiah Jesus John 3:16 John Hughes John Wesley John Judy Garland King David Kingdom Come Kingdom of God Leadership Lectio Divina Light of the World Lord Love is Love your neighbor Luke MLK Malachi Mama Bear Mark Martin Luther King Jr. Mary Matthew Memorial Day Merry Christmas Micah 6:8 Micah Molly Ringwald Monday Night Manna Mother Hen Mothers Day Nancy Drew Nehemiah New Testament Old Testament Only God Knows Paul Pentecost Peter Philippians Prince Phillip Prince of Peace Proverbs 13 Proverbs Psalm 10 Psalm 139 Psalm 23 Psalm 40 Psalm 42 Psalm 46 Psalms of Joy Pursuing the Presence of God Queen Elizabeth Revelation Romans Ruth Haley Barton Savior Sermon Sheridan Voysey Son of God Son of Man Son Spider Man Sunday School Surprised by Joy TV Target Thanksgiving The Free Market The Lord's Prayer The Sound of Music Timothy Titanic Today Show Twelfth Night Veggietales Voter Guide Wizard of Oz Women in Leadership Women of Faith Women's Bible Study abide abstain accused act justly action adoration adventure advice advocate afraid allelon alone anchor anger answers anxiety app art ask attack authority awe awkward back to school balance baptism be kind be open be prepared be still and know beaten and condemned beauty and struggle beauty belief believe belonging betrayed by a kiss betrayed black friday blackbelt blameless bleeding woman blessed blessing blog body bond bookmark book boundaries breadsticks broken brotherhood burden butter called by God called by name called carbs care cause celebrate centered in Christ challenges change childbirth children choice choosejoy choose christian christ chronic illness church nerd alert church online citizen civil rights clean hearts cleaning comfort comment community compassion into action compassion compost confession of faith confession conflict resolution conflict confusion connection connect consumer culture contemplative prayer conversation with God conversation corruption court tv court creation creative juice creativity cross crucified and kind crucified crucify dad dating daughtership daughters death defense delight denied depression differently abled disabled discernment discipleship discipline discovery discrimination distracted divine divinity do good do the action donate doughnuts dreams dream early church eating disorder eden election emotional health emotions empathy encouragement endurance enjoy enough excess expectations failure faithfulness faith fall family dynamics family fun family of God family systems family fangirl fasting fast favorite scripture favorite things fear feel find and follow Jesus fine flexible forgiveness forgive free time freedom free friendship friends fruit funeral fun future gaining faith galaxy garden generations generosity genesis gift give it away give life giving goals god good news good shepherd gospels gospel government grace of God grace grass is always greener gratitude gravy great cloud of witnesses green bean casserole green thumb grief grieve grit groups growth ham hangover happiness harmony harsh truth head healing healthy habit heart sick heart help holding tight holidays holiday homeless homeostasis homeschool honor hope deferred hope how the Lord speaks how to read scripture how to talk about loss how to worship how to humanity human humility humor innocent inspiration intercessory prayer intimacy introvert invitation isolation join journal journey joy just believe justice kids kindness kind kingdom of heaven knock lament laughter learn lent let it be life together light listen live loneliness longing losing faith loss love in action love mercy love story love the Lord love loving like Jesus magi map marathon march marginalized marriage mashed potatoes meditation memorial memories mental health mentalhealthmonth messiah momlife mom motivated by joy mourn moved with compassion move mystery navigate need neighbors neighbor new beginning new normal new season new year newlywed news new nickname normal not alone not easy note to self nothing but joy nourishment now and not yet nowandnotyet nurse offering one body online overflowing with gratitude pain pandemic parenting parents pastor patience patient peacemaker peacemaking peace perseverance personal prayer perspectives perspective petition phillipians pity planted by water plan play something podcast politics potatoes practice of confession practicing gratitude pray for pastors pray without ceasing prayer request prayerwarrior prayer praying praywithoutceasing pray preach prepare presence of God present priortize prize promise of God promise prophetic psalms psalm purpose quarantine questioning God questions quiet race read reconciliation reconnect recovery reevaluate reflect regather regret rejoice relationships relationship remember repentance repost research resilience resources respect rest resurrection retreat rhythms riot road to the cross roles routine ruby slippers rules sabbath sacred sadness safe at home safe salvation scalloped potatoes schedule scripture about justice scriptures about fear scriptures about joy scriptures about peace scriptures about race scriptures scripture searching seasons season seek self-care self-denial self-differentiation serve serving share shelter at home shepherds signs silence simple pleasures single dad single mom single parent sing sinking sink slowly smile sober social distancing social media soil solitude sonship soul care soul music spiritual disciplines spiritual health spiritual practices spirit spring stars starting point star stayathome still good stop and look up storm storytelling streams of water strength stress struggleisreal study success sudden suffering of Christ suffering summer support surrender take heart talking with kids teacher tears technology template thank God the truth is out there the truth will set you free the way the truth and the life theology thessalonians think thisistheday time tithe to be honest together traditions transformed transition trauma treasure tree of life trials trust and obey trust in the Lord trust truth turkey understanding unfailing love unity universe vacation vice president virtual voices volunteer vote vulnerable waiting waking up walk humbly we cannot go back weather wedding welcome welcoming prayer wisdom wise counsel woman at the well woman caught in adultery women pastors women wonder worry worship yield youmatter zoom