Today is Flyday! At 11:00 tonight I begin my journey home from Brazil and will feel torn again from some new brothers and sisters that I didn’t know I had, and have grown to love in these days together.
I’m going to let Peter from Australia write my blog today. He felt impressed to send some thoughts to me about reconciliation and gave me permission to pass them on if I wanted. This post comes from the depth of someone’s pain, experience, and healing which is why it rings with such simplicity and truth.
There is so much that I love in this post and so much that I am committed to stay true to in my own heart even in the most painful of broken relationships. I have use bold time to highlight portions I think are particularly significant. Here’s what Peter wrote me:
Some recent podcast references, have stimulated some thoughts on the “broken relationships” issue. From our pre-faith days, we can truly say it was easier to make peace with worldly folk than with the religious ones! Our coming to terms with broken relationships is a work in progress, but thus far, our thinking is as follows.
Reconciliation requires (at least) two key ingredients from each party; (a) a willingness to talk (ie being prepared to take a seat at the “table of reconciliation”), and (b), a preparedness to be wrong (not manipulative capitulation, not an abdication of truth; just a humble openness).
As “young Christians” (boy, how I hate that demeaning term), we were unschooled in the ways of religion. We soon found ourselves on the wrong side of pastors, elders, and all manner of “church-folk”. We earnestly sought truth and reconciliation but were shunned in every instance. How sad that it took religion to “teach” us what shunning is. Even through our son’s battle with cancer (and his death in 2007), the “shunners” never flinched; never deviated from their “God ordained” mission to shun us into their ways. But even that was ultimately a blessing; we were “forced” into a reliance on God Himself rather than on his self appointed “representatives”.
In our isolation we sought God, and in that place developed a lasting resolve; it is to always be prepared to take our seat at the table of reconciliation, to be prepared to be wrong, to resist the temptation of taking responsibility for the decisions others make, and above all, to place the love of truth above the need to be right. It is a real test of self to discern whether we really are lovers of truth, or just lovers of the “truth” we already have, and need.
There is sadness still in that hollow place of unresolved conflict, but there can be peace also. There is peace that comes from trusting God, from keeping our eyes focused where they belong, and from not gathering up responsibilities that are not rightfully ours. We cannot sit alone at that table of reconciliation forever; but we can forever maintain our preparedness to do so. If we retain that preparedness (to be willing, humble, lovers of truth), we remain in God; for that, and only that, we are accountable. God is the “light” over the “table of reconciliation”; the table is always there, the light always on. To be drawn to the light is to be drawn to Him; it is so sad that some, who we once saw as brothers and sisters, prefer to avoid the light. But this, in itself, is illuminating isn’t it?
We have only once had the glorious experience of patience rewarded; of sitting at the table of reconciliation with a sister. She came years after the event, and at Father’s prompting. The three of us sat, in the company of God, each accepting responsibility for our actions; but without need to apportion blame. Reconciliation came. It was not followed by restoration of relationship, but nevertheless, we savour that beautiful gift as it was.
As I read this it reminded me of 2 Corinthians 5 and God’s heart for reconciliation even through the worst of our sins and failures and with no thought for his own life. Reconciliation is a painful hope. When someone attacks us and refuses to sit down at the table of reconciliation, it is easier to cut ourselves off than risk the pain of the broken relationship. It is easier to reject people who hurt us and hide behind a wall of our defense mechanisms that promises protection. But what may seem like a safe place in our flesh is only another dark hole that devours who God really made us to be. Interestingly enough many of our ‘friends’ think they help us by fortifying our own defenses and embellishing our own lies.
I truly understand why true love seeks reconciliation and am so blessed that God demonstrated that heart for all who have broken faith with him. I am so grateful he paid so awesome a price to keep the door open for us. Can we do anything less than keep the door of our heart open regardless of what others do to us? I like in this post that we don’t control the process of reconciliation, but we can keep the lights on on our side of it.