Kimberly N. Alleyne
The Harvest Magazine, Publisher and Editor
Essay | Writing Challenge Day 6: Reconciliation
James 3: 17-18; James 4: 1-3
She won’t forgive me. It’s been 10+ years, and she still won’t forgive me. I have apologized over and over and over again, but she can’t seem to it let go. For a decade we lived in different parts of the country. We didn’t speak; I sent her cards that she never acknowledged, and emails that she never replied to. We live in the same city now, and I’ve seen her once or twice; she always says that she’ll call me to schedule lunch, but she never does. I keep praying that her heart would let me back in; I have a photo of her son on my vision board. When we were friends, she called my mother “Mom.”
She was my best friend. She got me. I got her. I loved her from the first day I met her. No one will ever replace her. I long for her to come back, but I don’t think she will. Our friendship broke too severely.
Relationships are hard. Forgiveness is harder. And then once we forgive, we have to move toward reconciliation. We cannot stop at,”I’m sorry” and “I forgive you.”
Things get hard when the laughter stops, when betrayal causes trust to erode, when anger boils over to blind us from seeing or remembering the big picture. Some offenses and conflicts are easier to overlook than others. You forgot about an outing we had planned for two months? Ok, no problem; that’s easy. You betrayed my confidence or gossiped about me behind my back? Ummm, not so easy.
In a former version of myself, I was a classic relationship abandoner. When betrayal or conflict reared their heads, I simply left. Even though I left the relationship, I carried the offense, and my hurt and anger with me right into new relationships or other existing relationships. I didn’t allow my myself to address the conflict, to repair it or to heal from it.
The Enemy Is Hard at Work
I have since learned that broken relationships and unforgiveness are key tactics of the enemy. Think about it: we cannot focus on soul-winning, evangelizing, serving, or even praising and worship God wholly if we’re saddled by unforgiveness, bitterness, and anger. Confusion and conflict in the Body of Christ makes for a poor, if hypocritical, representation of the Kingdom; and Believers cannot make an impact if they’re at odds. There is no room for God to touch a heart that is muddled with unforgiveness. He can’t work in a place like that, a hostile environment. I am a witness. I used to be easy prey.
I let the anger of rejection, abandonment and betrayal govern and guard the depth of my love and trust. My heart, thoughts and emotions were packed in a case of stone. I was a frequent rider of the relationship rollercoaster: I expected others to hurt me, betray me in some way. When they did, I’d exclaim in my thoughts, “I knew it! You’re just like all the others!!” Then I’d make an emotional exit from the relationship. Sure, I’d smile and say “hello,” but I had no mercy for my offender, and I wouldn’t pray for him or her. We’re supposed to pray even for our enemies…I didn’t have the maturity or wisdom to do that.
This Rollercoaster Makes Me Sick
Not anymore. I stepped off the relationship rollercoaster. Now I pursue peace with passion. I no longer allow myself to dwell in pride—that’s essentially the root of unforgiveness. “I won’t forgive you because I am right.” Fear is another root: “I won’t forgive you because if I don’t forgive you, you can’t hurt me again.”
Wow…the irony of those mindsets: God forgave us when we were wrong; and He continues to forgives us–no matter how many times we screw up–knowing that we’ll disappoint Him in some way, at one point or another. Yet, He stays in the game; He never abandons us.
That’s why I had to get off the rollercoaster. The ride was making me spiritually sick, polluting my faith, and hindering my intimacy with the Lord. I don’t miss the ride. I realize now that I have to forgive no matter how deeply an offense cuts my heart. I also have to pursue peace [reconciliation], and be at peace, when a reconciliation may never come as in the case with my friend I told you about.