If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
5. Forgiveness is not the same as ~ Reconciliation.
Just as it takes two people to have a relationship, it takes two people to rebuild it. There must be unity, humility, vulnerability, admission of wrong as God defines it, and reconciliation with God for both parties to be able to build something solid.
What usually happens is that one person in the broken relationship either can’t admit what they’ve done, or the one who was hurt can’t forgive what was done to them. If one is too proud to ask for forgiveness and the other is too proud to offer it, true reconciliation just won’t be realized.
Paul said, ‘If it is possible, live at peace.’ The ‘if’ is important to digest because it’s possible, due to people’s sinfulness, to never get reconciliation. Forgiveness, however, only takes one person. It’s a unilateral act between me and God. Reconciliation takes two people ~ the offender and the victim ~ coming together in agreement before God about what transpired. This is the necessary ingredient for there to be the beginnings of a relationship again. Fractured trust takes oh so long to re-build even after sincere apologies and remorse.
Isn’t it your experience, however, that most of our offenders fail to see what they’ve done? They aren’t willing to own truth. Does that mean we can’t have peace and closure in our heart? No. I can still do my part and forgive them. That’s something I do by the power of the Holy Spirit in prayer. I take them off my hook and put them on God’s hook. I yield my rights to play judge and jury and repent of my desire to make them pay. I do the hard spiritual work of forgiveness, and then what? I pray for them and wait. I poise myself on the line of reconciliation and wait for that person to seek God and the truth of what caused this broken relationship.
People in marriages, families and friendships, deeply hurt another, then offer a generalized, token apology that is pretty meaningless. “Guess I’m a bad friend. Chalk me up to being a bad spouse.” They consider that an adequate apology and want everything back to normal. These are not grounds for reconciliation! We are told to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. We get the ‘harmless’ part of the equation and cave in to pressure instead of being ‘wise.’ Sometimes, I want peace more than I want truth and I rush to patch things up when there is no foundation upon which to build. So, it is possible to forgive yet still have to wait for reconciliation.
Lord, for those who wait, give them grace. For those who are about to rush in to an unsafe relationship after an unacceptable apology, give them pause. Only in your timetable and by the wisdom of Your Spirit. Amen