Relationships are hard! We are all sinful and will make mistakes as we communicate and interact with each other. At one time or another, if we invest in others, we will hurt each other – sometimes deliberately, sometimes without realizing it. Disagreements and arguments happen all the time creating hurt and confusion.
So, how do we deal with the brokenness?
If we don’t care about the relationship, we allow our pride to ride high and we can get angry, bad mouth others and walk away leaving hurt and devastation behind.
Or, we can choose to repair the broken relationship through humbly taking these steps:
- Talking about what wrongdoings have hurt us with a humble attitude is a first step to making things right. Being open is important, otherwise it will fester.
- Being willing to listen to another’s grievances with an open mind without being dismissive is important in order to communicate and to heal.
- Even if arguments erupt as we defend ourselves, we need to learn to say sorry for our contributions.
- Accepting personal mistakes or sins without going on the defensive is needed.
- Being quick to repent is very important. Even if we didn’t purposely do something or if we had another good reason why we did it, if we have caused hurt or confusion to another, it is very important to apologize for the pain they perceive we have caused and then to explain.
- Repentance is critical in order to mend relationships.
- Showing grace and accepting an apology is also important
- We must not hold the wrongs against the other party in future disagreements after they have apologized.
People often say a “get-off-my-back” sorry which is shallow and superficial and adds to the hurt of the already wounded. True, genuine, godly, heartfelt repentance involves:
- Admitting our sins to ourselves.
- Repenting before God.
- Repenting to the person who has been hurt or wronged.
- Not deflecting but sticking to the issue at hand.
- Addressing every part of the accusation as best we can, not deliberately excluding the some parts.
- Correcting and fixing mistakes to the best of our ability.
- Recognizing that it’s the wrongdoer who broke the relationship’s trust and has to rebuild it – this takes time and perseverance.
Repentance and reconciliation are two entirely different things. The first part is repentance which requires the humble willingness of one or both parties involved. Repentance happens whether the other party forgives or not for the sin is mainly against God (Psalm 53). Forgiveness is the second part which requires the wronged party to accept the apology and to forgive the wrongdoer. God commands us to forgive others because we have already been recipients of that grace through His death on the cross. Forgiveness does not depend on the other party’s attitudes – it’s an internal act of humility before God. Reconciliation requires both parties to be willingly involved in the process with heartfelt repentance and forgiveness working in unison. This is nothing short of a miracle!
Most often though one party may not be willing to repent or forgive even if the other one is in which case reconciliation falls away. Also, in certain circumstances which are harmful or dangerous, boundaries may need to be clearly set or even law enforcement done post repentance so as not to allow repeat offenses. These shut the door on reconciliation. Yet, they do not shut the door on repentance not forgiveness!
God desires for His children to be united by love and redemption so that the world might see His light shining in that unity. But, Jesus knowing how hard it was going to be prayed for His future children before His death on the cross in John 17:20-23, “I ask for…for those who will believe in Me through the Word, that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent me. The glory that You have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are one, I in them and You in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent me and loved them even as You loved me.”
The Matthew West song, Forgiveness exemplifies all this!