Forgiveness and reconciliation – not the same | Mark’s Remarks

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I believe everything the Bible says, cover to cover.  

That kind of talk can get a person into trouble from time to time, but I make no apologies for my beliefs.  

I also think there are passages in the Bible we have not embraced. Much of what the Bible says about how we are supposed to love one another has been misconstrued and warped.  I still think we’ve all forgotten how to love others – everyone – properly.  But that’s for another column.

I heard something the other day. Someone on television said “Forgiveness and reconciliation aren’t necessarily two things that always happen together.”

Hmm. That was interesting to me. I started thinking about scripture and what the Bible says about forgiveness. I also read passages on reconciliation.

You see, I always viewed “making up” or “burying the hatchet” as two people shaking hands, saying they were sorry, and then resuming life as normal. Friends patched things up and went on as they did before. Family members started talking again and went on as if nothing ever happened. 

But it isn’t really like that, nor does it have to be.

Have you ever apologized to someone, being truly sorry for your mistake, and had the other person simply say “Thank you?” Even if you don’t go into an apology hoping for something in return, a little part of you expects the other person to release their stiff posture and say “I’m sorry, too.”

Sometimes we don’t get that, do we?

As I’ve gotten older, I have noticed the moments in my life when I realized something was really my fault were defining moments. The moment I stopped trying to make myself right. The moment I took ownership of my role in a problem.  The moment I truly felt sorry for what I did and yearned to talk to someone and ask them to forgive me. 

All of those moments were important to the health of my soul.

Furthermore, I learned that the word “forgiveness” and asking someone to forgive you is far more powerful than just telling someone you are sorry. Sometimes, the word “sorry” is so overused that it becomes meaningless and empty – especially if the person saying it all the time doesn’t really change their ways.

We all know people who simply won’t say the word “sorry” anyway. Maybe they are too proud. Maybe they really aren’t sorry. It could be that they view apologizing as a sign of weakness. Some people find it easier to just stop talking and gradually start talking again, never having resolved anything.  

And about the reconciliation thing; it doesn’t always happen. We’ve all had relationships in which we may have apologized, but the relationship is never quite the same and we definitely don’t go back to the way it was before. I think it’s happened to all of us.  Sometimes, it’s a bit like death and we go through a period of grieving.

I have a dear friend who happens to be a pastor, and we have had numerous discussions on people and the ways of the world. One of the wisest things he has ever said to me involved forgiveness and reconciliation. 

“There are some relationships and people we just won’t understand this side of heaven,” he said.

Doggone it. He was right. As bad as I didn’t want to hear or believe it.

We spend so much time on relationships because we are designed to have them.  Even people who claim that they don’t care what people think of them or claim they want to live alone with no people around, still have the need for acceptance and some sort of interactions with people.

Don’t let them fool you.

But as far as forgiveness goes, I think we have to ask ourselves a few questions.  Are we truly in the wrong?  Are we apologizing for the right reasons? Are we expecting anything in return?

When we do forgive someone, they don’t even have to know about it. It’s tough, but we can actually forgive someone who doesn’t even know they did anything to us.  We can forgive people who are never going to be emotionally mature enough to ask for it.  

Jesus commanded us to forgive those who have wronged us. Why? Because He loves us and doesn’t want us to stew in bitterness and resentment. He wants us to be free of that sort of vicious stuff that wants to eat out our insides.

Reconciliation requires that the person committing the offense asks for forgiveness, and then there is some sort of restoration between the offender and the other person or persons. 

If you think about it, this is not always possible.

So, it really all boils down to our role. When we know in our hearts we have done all we can, we must be at peace.

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