I can’t give the details of the incident except to say that I hurt someone…crushingly so. by my words. I didn’t intend to, but that didn’t make the pain any less. They let me know in an appropriate way in a note.
As you can imagine, especially if you know me AT ALL, I wanted to defend myself and could have easily listed multiple defenses. I’m quite sure I have latent legal gifts. . .but we won’t go there for now!
But this time was different.
For one thing, I was totally unsure how to have the discussion that would have any hope of reconciliation. The hurt was deep and it showed in her body language! At the heart was my motivation.
Here are some other things that were different.
The people in leadership over me were encouraging me to work toward reconciliation. . .and were offering me multiple resources in terms of people.
Is that the culture of your church?
Or the subgroups within your church?
This was really helpful to me. I couldn’t squirm from the situation. I couldn’t rationalize and avoid like I would prefer. Not only did they want it dealt with, they wanted to help and support me in it. WOW! What a novel approach.
Unfortunately, there was a missed phone message along the way. But I also had family company so the next week came and it was not done yet. The pastor that works with us offered to help so he casually got the two of us in a room to talk. It wasn’t made into a big deal. It was treated like a normal conversation. Private, yes. But not a huge event!
I’ve been to PeacemakerMinistries (Don’t misunderstand. They are incredibly helpful for every age group! If you haven’t been exposed to their information, please get it!) I’ve learned the information and I know the Bible verses but when I’m in the middle of a problem in a relationship, the objectivity is gone. My default is always to defend. myself!
I vascillate between wanting to take all the blame for the problem on myself because I should know better (too extreme) and wanting to blame everything on the other person for being too___ (fill in the blank) and thereby making my life more complex (the other extreme). . .and all points in between!
As in why do they have to be so sensitive and complicate my life? Why do they have to be so easily offended and complicate my life? You get the picture?
This was when I was mentored, but not intensely. It was very matter-of-fact.
The pastor prayed for us. Then he gave us each a chance to talk and clarify as needed. After discussion, when I apologized, he asked me some open-ended questions to help me go a little further in the apology. . .as I should have. Then he encouraged the other person in areas of forgiveness and our future relationship. There is room to deal with more issues later. But that was what needed to be done for now.
For the first time in a conversation of that type, I came away feeling heard and not condemned. Yes, it was appropriate for me to apologize, but in a healthy setting. This pastor helped provide a healthy setting so that I think both of us felt heard and cared for.
It probably took about 20 minutes. That wasn’t too long for a relationship to be shown grace.
For the seeds of forgiveness to be sown.
For the process of reconciliation to begin.
Fortunately, we hadn’t shared inappropriately about the situation with uninvolved people. That would have been gossip. It would have been another tier of reconciliation to deal with. This one was relatively simple.
The goal of our church is that the members and attendees would experience and express the grace of GOD. They have been through a church split about 3 years ago. Grace, forgiveness and dealing with reconciliation in personal relationships is becoming part of the culture of their church. It is good to be a part of that culture.
They don’t offer it from a place of having it all together. They offer it from a place of brokenness. They don’t come from a place of being shocked when we sin, but of realizing we all sin, we are all on the same ground when it come to sin but we may need help in learning to repent…and experience the grace of GOD in new ways…in new places.
I have been experiencing it in new places in my life. . .and learning to express it with the help of mentors there. Both the ones who live it out around me and the ones who come along side me when I need help.
I know this isn’t unique. There are many places where this happens. But there are at least as many that don’t offer this kind of nitty gritty help that is the most basic help we need in everyday life!
Are you experiencing and expressing grace?
If you need help, do you have people around you that can give you the help you need so that your relationships show that you understand forgiveness. . .from both sides?
That you understand that you aren’t always right in every interaction?
Then you are beginning to understand grace and how it applies to your life. It is for people who are broken and make mistakes more often than they want to. It is for people who sin and fail and need GOD’s forgiveness often…and need to give forgiveness to others as well…freely!
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother,
he is a liar;
for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen
cannot love God whom he has not seen.
And this commandment we have from him:
whoever loves God must also love his brother.
I John 4:20-21 ESV