Sunday, May 08, 2011

Love and Reconciliation

"I had just gone through a really bad breakup." Her smile--which always lights up a room--carried a heart-wrenching pain. "He started making snide comments and I told him I just couldn't handle that right then. He blew up and said, 'No man is ever going to put up with your BS!'"

A moment.

She lifted her eyes. "So, yeah. It's hard to pretend that everything's okay right now."

This is a story of forgiveness. This is a story that hasn't ended yet. For now, this girl can forgive the man. Indeed, she must. Carrying bitterness destroys the soul. Thankfully, we--by God's grace--have been given the ability to forgive those who wrong us. Not because it restores the relationship between us and them, but because it allows us to be free of the bondage of being wronged.

"Has he ever admitted he was wrong? Has he apologized?"

"No. Never."

But forgiveness is not reconciliation. If a company purposefully cheats you, you can decide it's not worth suing them. You can decide to let that go. You can move on with your life. But you wouldn't use that company again. The cheating company would need to apologize, admit their mistake, make a policy change and work to make restitution. Forgiveness is one thing. Repairing a relationship is another.

Today the world is abuzz with talk of Universalism and the idea that a loving God wouldn't send people to Hell. Christ's shed Blood covers the sin of all mankind. God is love and God ultimately wins.

But like the scene in Bruce Almighty where Jim Carrey tries to command his girlfriend to love him, I'm not sure even God has the ability to make us love Him. He can absolutely forgive us; indeed, He has. He can even pay for the wrong we've done. He's done that too. But relationships are two-way. Reconciliation requires repentance at some level.

This is why, no matter how much she longs to be reconnected with her father, my friend is separated from him until he asks for forgiveness. And this is why salvation through the grace of God is such a beautifully simple, yet brutally severe transformation: It requires us to admit we were wrong. It requires us to drop our pride. It requires us to accept the forgiveness already offered us.

When a man can't allow himself to make right the relationship with his daughter, it's little wonder we can't bring ourselves to the grace of God. We can bide our time and try to sweep things under the rug of our relationship. But all the forgiveness in the world won't make us friends again. That requires us to accept the forgiveness given.

"But I do accept her forgiveness," this man may say. "That's why I'm trying to move on."

You can't do that. You can't skip the important step of repentance, of apologizing with an aim to be better. Until you do that, you've merely accepted civility and tolerance. Grace and forgiveness say, "You have wronged me, but I will still accept you as a friend." To respond and say, "I'm glad we can still be around one another," ignores the first part. We must bring ourselves to say, "Thank you so much for being my friend. I am so sorry I have wronged you."

That is accepting love in a way that brings reconciliation.

The difference between the two responses to love is painfully clear. A girl, who loves her father, quietly mourns that divide.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester


Kimmie said...

Praising God for your post...for your heart in the matter and for the fact that you've returned.

You are on my heart.

mama to 8
one homemade and 7 adopted

Andrea said...

I'm very glad you are back Luke..

And, you had no way of knowing...but God did...that every single syllable within your post I NEEDED to hear.

Not to "pedestal" myself, but I am the one in the parent-child relationship who has forgave, apologized, humbled, thrown pride out the door, asked for love to be restored, asked to go beyond 'civil' to 'loved' ...

to be ignored after those actions is a hurt that rips and tears like a thronged spear going into my heart.

To read your post, though, reminded me that as long as I am being obedient, as long as I am not walking in pride (and stomping it when it flares), as long as I let her know my arms (and her grandchildren's arms) are open and waiting once she choses restoration (the whole kit and kaboodle as you described)...

as long as that is occuring...I can proceed w/o guilt.


Just Me said...

I feel as if a "celebrity" has visited my blog - and wanted to return the gesture. Hope you poked around a bit - "...Dirty Diapers" is not my best work.


Jennifer said...

Very timely message here. A company recently cheated us, through not purposefully. One passing thought was that I could blog about all of the difficulties we have had. I know suing isn't right, but why not show the rest of the world "my side." No. We must forgive in every situation. I listened to my calm and peacekeeping husband yesterday as he talked on the phone with the owner of the company, and overheard reconciliation. Sometimes both are possible even when we think it is a lost cause.

Anonymous said...

I'd put up with Amber Densmer's BS!

Herding Grasshoppers said...

That's an excellent distinction to make, Luke. Thanks for writing that. Forgiveness and restoration are NOT the same thing.

Forgiveness is my part, when I've been wronged. And repentance is my part when I'm the one in the wrong. Restoration needs both. And it isn't always possible, or even wise.