Friday, May 16, 2014

are forgiveness and reconciliation the same?

Earlier this week I was in a meeting where a lady was sharing her program about dealing with grief.  As she talked through the various aspects of the six-week program she talked about the need for forgiveness and how it frees people from the bondage of grief.

Since that meeting I have been spending some time thinking about and praying for the evidence of real forgiveness in the lives of the people I deal with, including myself.  I praise God for His forgiveness in my life and for the forgiveness I have been able to share with others through the last two decades.

Anne Marie Miller is an author whose blog I read often.  A year ago she wrote about this subject, and I would like to share it with you.  The original post can be found HERE.  Below is her post “Are Forgiveness and Reconciliation the Same?”

I never thought there was much difference between reconciliation and forgiveness. In my heart, it all kind of meant the same thing – letting go of pain that someone had inflicted on me. Usually this involved some type of “making up” process involving apologies, sometimes tears, and a hug to make everything alright.

Twelve years ago, somebody hurt me in a very painful, inexcusable way. For years, I didn’t allow myself to work through the pain as I needed to. A couple of years ago, circumstances (which were mostly out of my control) caused me to stare at this wound square in the face.

As strange as it sounds, I’ve never doubted that I forgave this person. I feel fortunate that, for the most part, forgiveness comes easy to me. There are probably only two situations in my life where I know I still need to work on forgiving someone, but this particular hurt isn’t one of them.

However, as I was processing through healing during this time, I began questioning if i really had forgiven this person. Sure, the scabs had been peeled off and the wounds were fresh – and it hurt…badly, all over again.

Someone who was helping me through this sent me an email. He encouraged me and said that what I was experiencing wasn’t me being bitter or holding on (which was what I was afraid I was doing) but that I was desiring reconciliation.

I wanted for this person to own up to the mistake and for everything – painful as it would be – to be okay again.

And I wanted for the relationship to be harmonized and restored completely.

Later, I read this in a book:

Joseph was reconciled with his brothers when they came to Egypt in search of grain. By the time his brothers reached Egypt, he was able to stand before them and confront them because he had no inner feelings that would keep him from having a relationship of unity and peace with them.

Forgiveness is unilateral. You can forgive even if [someone] never admits [their wrong doing], is never sorry, and never changes. But reconciliation requires both people’s commitment to recovery, honesty, repentance, forgiveness, and communication. Even then, reconciliation is a long and difficult process of breaking down barriers and building trust.

You may not ever be reconciled with a person that hurt you (or that you hurt).

That part takes both people to work through.

Forgiveness is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for reconciliation.

However, forgiveness is a decision that you make, and continue to make, regardless of the other person’s choice.

And through the cross and grace and love, you can.

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happy birthday, Julie

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