Do you avoid conflict? Do you situations when you are hurt? Do you avoid difficult conversations because of your own anxiety? Dealing with hidden hurts may hurt right now but the result is no long-term pain.
You don’t believe me. Let me challenge you. Years ago, I had heard through the family grape-vine that my brother was upset with me for not attending a gathering at his house. He had decided I was being a selfish brat. There may be some truth to that, but it wasn’t the entire story. I have severe asthma allergies. One of my main allergens is dogs. His family had a dog. I knew I would end up struggling to breathe and didn’t want to deal with it. His wife had done a ton of extra cleaning to make the house comfortable for me which I did not know about.
Needless to say, I felt terrible about how my choice had been received. So I called my brother. I apologized for not attending and said that had I known about all the extra work his wife had done, I would at least tried. His response has stuck with me all these years. He said, “I can’t believe you are doing this. I never would have called.” So I said, “What, you would have just stuffed it and let it fester for years?” And then he said it, “Yep.”
I wanted to reconcile with my brother right away. I didn’t want anything between us. He found this shocking and was willing to live with the hidden hurt forever.
Leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. (Matthew 5:24 NLT)
Did it hurt to call my brother and apologize for being a brat? Yes. It was hard. It did not feel good in the moment, but the result is a relationship that is built on trust and care.
Reconciliation requires three things: A willingness to forgive or ask for forgiveness, a willingness to submit to the other person and a willingness to be vulnerable. These are not easy things, so let me be clear on a couple of points.
Forgiveness is not saying what happened was okay. It is not saying there doesn’t need to be consequences. It is releasing the other person from having a hold on your heart. If you are the one asking for forgiveness, you are taking responsibility for your actions.
Submission is not being under the other’s thumb and allowing them to control you. It is deciding to get underneath that person and lift them up. It is deciding to put their needs before yours.
Vulnerability means we are putting ourselves out on a limb with the possibility of rejection. It is heading into a conversation with the goal of reconciliation and acknowledging that it could all go wrong. You are opening yourself up to the possibility of being hurt again. And, you are willing to own your place in the story.
So now, you are wondering why anyone would ever want to attempt reconciliation. Remember the result – strengthened relationships, reduced stress and anxiety in the body, no bitterness, and living Christ like.
Reconciliation is hard but SO very worth it. I have had many opportunities to practice this over the years. It is still not easy, but I go after it where ever I can. I have learned that the relationship after reconciliation is the one I want.
Who do you need to be reconciled to? Are there hidden hurts you are holding onto? Are you willing to try? Share your story below so we can encourage one another.