Forgiveness & Reconciliation (Part 1)
What’s the difference?
Paul and I have been super busy, which is why you haven’t heard from us in a while. We continue to see God do amazing things in the lives of hopeless couples and individuals.
The other night, Paul and I were attending a couples gathering. While there, one of the ladies shared with the group that her husband had committed adultery. She did so with his permission.
Paul and I were saddened to hear how people responded to her in the midst of her deep emotional pain. They began to tell her how she needed to forgive and move on, choosing to close the door and never bring it up again.
We watched as this woman slowly began to pull inside in order to protect herself from the blows that came with each spoken word. Meanwhile, the husband sat silent, feeling somewhat justified.
After leaving the get together that night, I went home and wrote her an e-mail which I would like to share with you.
Here are my thoughts on what was said tonight at the meeting. I believe everyone there was sincere and truly cares about you and your situation. I also believe they missed some key points which I will explain below.
The Difference Between Forgiveness and Reconciliation.
(& why many don’t understand it.)
Forgiveness is ONE way. We must choose to release the other person from our attempts to gain payment for what they have done to us. We release them to God, therefore releasing ourselves from bitterness. I can truly forgive someone, yet the relationship may never be reconciled.
Forgiveness does NOT mean reconciliation. It is just a step towards it.
Reconciliation is TWO way. In order for reconciliation to happen, two people must choose to walk together through the process of having their hearts heard and understood by one another. Then allow God to use them to facilitate healing needed for there to be reconciliation and restoration to the damaged relationship.
We keep telling people to forgive, but we’re not teaching them how to reconcile. That is a process that calls for death-to-self as you lay down your life in order to restore the one you have offended. (Matthew 5:23-24) Often, this is what is missing when we talk about forgiveness. We tell the “offended” to forgive, but we do not help the “offender” understand how to pursue the “offended” towards reconciliation. So we end up with wounded relationships, limping along in our churches, stunting out growth within the body.
As believers, we need to stop telling people to just forgive and forget. We need to start teaching them how to forgive, and be restored and reconciled one to another!