A great article with a good answer to a hard question. Reconciliation takes time also, and it takes willingness and humility on all sides. Sometimes neither party is ready at the same time, sometimes it takes a separation. We are called to reconcile, because Christ has set the bar and reconciled with us. The question then becomes who decides when the right time is.
It was a very cold night this past November when the phone rang. It was one of my brothers calling. This had become routine, as he was going through some life changes. He would call my mom almost nightly to talk, to share, and to ask for prayer. Then the one night came when he said he was coming home.
Home? It had been four years since my one brother had been home – really, since my dad died. Whether he stayed away to deal with the emotional pain of our dad’s death, or because he was tied up with many responsibilities of work and family, or even something else, it didn’t matter. He was coming home, and my mom was so excited. We worked especially hard cleaning and getting the house perfectly decorated. He would be spending four days with us before the rest of the family came. He needed this personal time.
After we walked the classic trip down memory lane (laughing, eating and shopping) my brother told us the main reason he had come home. He needed reconciliation. Not only with God, but also with each of his family members. Over the last several months, he had reconnected with the Lord in a way that broke the yoke of pain, desire for personal control, the inability to forgive, and anger. He didn’t know why he had not come home in so long, and he was sorry.
He was ready to start over and to be healed. He wanted the future to be different.
Reconciling The Past
The one thing I can be sure about, is that estranged relationships marred by sin, betrayal, abuse, abandonment, and lack of forgiveness will not only keep us in the past, but will also affect all future relationships. It can lead to anger, hurt, resentment and separation.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).
So why don’t people seek reconciliation, considering how much it can help us?
Ignorance. We didn’t know there was truly a problem. We didn’t know we had hurt someone. We didn’t know that unresolved abuse or pain needs to be dwelt with.
Pride. We have a tendency to think the other person is always at fault. As a result, no one wants to make the first step. No one seeks to reconcile, so no one heals.
Fear. We think, what if they don’t forgive me? What if I can’t forgive them? What if they reject or laugh at me? What if they don’t even remember what happened?
Laziness. Reconciliation takes effort: If the relationship is worth having, it’s work fixing, even if the reconciliation is for closure only.
Avoidance. We want to avoid digging up all the pain again. But sometimes we need a wound cleaned out so it can properly heal.
Death. If the person has died, we can still acknowledge the relationship by asking God for his help, and his forgiveness as needed. We can also go the family of the dead person to seek reconciliation.
There are so many reasons to seek reconciliation with others.
One is a need for closure. So many of us dwell in past pain inflicted by someone else (or in some cases, for pain we caused, and the guilt with which we now live). Making an effort to reconcile will bring the pain to the light where healing can begin. Sometimes we need to tell someone something like “I forgive you” or “I’m sorry” so we can move on.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times (Matthew 18:21-22).
Another need is that of rebuilding relationship. We have no idea why God puts certain people in our lives. Taking the time to reconcile for rebuilding could change your life forever.
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you”(Genesis 45:4-5).
Remember, before you can truly reconcile your past, you must first reconcile with Christ. Then as you seek God, he will give you what you need to reconcile your relationships. He will give you his power, his Spirit to help you. And remember, it takes time.
For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:10)
It was a great week with my brother. As he was packing up to go he saw a digital picture frame I had in the den. The pictures were of my dad and his last year on earth. Pictures of his anniversary, his birthday, and his last days with family. My brother turned to me and said, “I never saw those pictures before. I missed out somehow because I wasn’t here.”
That is why I made pictures, I said. And you know what, you are here now, and that’s what matters.
Kris Swiatocho is the President and Director of TheSinglesNetwork.org Ministries andFromHisHands.com Ministries. Kris has served in ministry in various capacities for the last 25 years. An accomplished trainer and mentor, Kris has a heart to reach and grow leaders so they will in turn reach and grow others. She is the author of three books: Singles and Relationships: A 31-Day Experiment (co-authored with Dick Purnell of Single Life Resources); From the Manger to the Cross: The Women in Jesus’ Life; and the most recent, Jesus, Single Like Me with Study Questions (includes a leader’s guide and conference/retreat of the same name). Kris is currently working on two new books: The FAQ’s of Singles Ministry with author/speaker Dennis Franck and A Fine Line: Discerning Truth From Sin.
TheSinglesNetwork.org Ministries helps churches, pastors and single adult leaders evaluate, develop and support their single adult ministries through high-energy speaking engagements, results-oriented consulting and training and leadership development conferences and seminars. Click here to request a FREE “How to Start a Single Adult Ministry” guide.
FromHisHands.com Ministries is Kris’ speaking ministry. If you’ve ever heard her speak, you know that Kris is the kind of speaker who keeps the crowd captivated, shares great information and motivates people to make a difference in the lives of those around them! She speaks to all church audiences on everything from “first impression” ministry to women’s topics to singles and young adults. She can speak on a Sunday morning, at a woman’s retreat or for a single adults conference. Bring Kris to your church today!
Publication date: January 30, 2014