Just a couple days ago I had the humble chance to take part in a time of reconciliation with another Christian. Without sharing information that doesn't need to be shared, I can safely say that I've been burdened by this for a long time and was frustrated that it hadn't happened after several months of prayer and fasting over it.
When the window of opportunity finally opened up, I found myself anxious in ways I didn't realize I would be - primarily because it could have very well been my one opportunity for a face-to-face communication and healing... and I didn't want to mess it up.
You can say I was dabbling with the temptation of "fearful tactics."
I've seen it happen time and time before... on my side of the table, I wanted to be sure that while I made every effort to bring about a clean relationship again that I didn't (in fear) water down my understanding of things. This meant that I needed to be both a listener and a talker... I had to say things like, "So what you're saying is that I should be careful how I come across in those situations" as well as "If following God and the Bible matters to you as you say, why are we just now sitting down on this? I see a problem with that."
There are also false attempts at this, too. Two people are at odds with one another and finally sit down to "reconcile." I put quotes around that word because in many cases one (or both) seems more concerned with "stopping the chaos" than they are in restoring peace... and there is a difference, isn't there? It's like two kids who got in trouble and sitting before the principal and have to reluctantly "shake hands" with one another (but deep down care less about the authenticity of the reconciliation as they are plotting their next attack on the playground).
Thankfully my experience seemed to be an authentic one on both sides of the table.
Again, to clarify, I learned some things about myself and am taking those into my prayer life for further processing. I don't say that lightly, though, because I believe that even when you think you're "right" in a conflict there is a chance you've done some wrong. As a Christian, I can say things like "The Lord led me to do this," but I have to admit that I may have misread God... maybe it was my own fear to control the situation.
Or... maybe it was God's lead.
If you could fix a relationship you have with another person, who would it be... and would you?
Or maybe the better question is... WHY would you?
Which raises the question... have you ever forgiven someone from deep within your heart? It has nothing to do with saying a few nice-sounding words and thinking that it's all over. Instead, it has everything to do with starving the false hunger to keep thinking about it, for “Love covers over a multitude of sins.” This doesn't mean you ignore the process of recovery, but it does means that you bring it up in appropriate ways, for instance: "You know, that whole situation wounded me but I am choosing to release it... pray that I am able to quickly."
A few thoughts of application:
- Begin by assuring yourself that you have caused pain to others, too, including God.
- Maybe you didn't deserve to be hurt, but how about the many undeserved kind things that have been done to you, perhaps even by the person who has harmed you? Recall those often.
- List the benefits you have received from God, obviously including in His graceful offer of forgiveness to us.
- Make an honest effort to pray for the one who has injured you. And then go even further by looking for an opportunity to help him/her.
- If the offense is especially hard to forget, focus less on "trying to forget" and more on praying for the person. Over time the matter will take on a new perspective.
- Before you fall asleep at night, repeat slowly and thoughtfully that phrase from the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
All of this, of course, is from Jesus, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
"Forgive your brother from the heart." (Matthew 18:35)