“I expect forgiveness (without asking for it), without changing anything, without acknowledging you; I expect you to move on and let it all go. I’m uncomfortable with confrontation (even from someone I love),and I refuse to come out of my comfort zone for you. It’s not worth it to me. You are not worth it to me. I simply don’t care.”
Forgiveness liberates the one offering it, but if the offender engages in the attitude displayed above – forgiveness will not be enough.
In wisdom, one knows that forgiveness frees the heart from bitterness, anger, resentment, and all that imprisons thoughts and emotions.
Forgiving others frees oneself.
God counseled Peter to forgive.
“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21-22).
Forgiveness is NOT always enough to move forward. When healing needs to take place and wounds are deep; if a relationship is stifled or nearly destroyed, there needs to be reconciliation and restoration.
In Merriam-Webster, to forgive means to stop feeling anger; stop requiring payment; or to give up resentment. To reconcile means to find a way to become friendly again. To restore is the process of returning something to its original condition; to repair it, or clean it up.
Consider the following Greek words found in the Bible:
Kattalage (Strong’s #2643) – means to change thoroughly; to restore to favor (Romans 5:11, Romans 11:15, 2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
Kattalaso (Strong’s #2644) – means to reconcile; to receive back into favor (Romans 5:10, 1 Cor. 7:11, 2 Cor. 5:18-20). The word originally represented an exchange of coins. It later represented changing from enmity to friendship.
These references primarily regard sinners who are reconciled into a relationship with God. We can glean wisdom from the distinction. Those reconciled to God, through Christ, recognize a change and exchange in the relationship.
One can extend grace, or charizomai (Strong’s #5483) and choose to be forgiving and kind. However, the relationship may need to walk through a process of restoration before returning to “they way they once were.” The relationship may need to be “cleaned up” a bit.
I hesitate to use this example, but it makes the point.
A victim of abuse may be encouraged in counsel to forgive the offender. Reconciling the relationship with the victimizer will mostly likely not be encouraged, at least not at first. The victim needs assurance that the offender has changed – let’s use the word “repented.” The offender would need to express sincere apology with a heart that is sorrowful for the pain caused to another. Feeling sorry for the pain inflicted on him/herself by being caught or confronted, or for having to face consequences, is feeling sorry for oneself rather than for the pain caused.
“I am so sorry that I hurt you” should be the attitude.
The powerful phrase “let it go” takes various interpretations. Some think that it means “Let’s brush this under the rug and never address it.”
Now tell me, is this healthy? You might not see the dirt, but it’s still there, under the rug.
I recently heard this phrase, “forgiveness without repentance = enabling.”
Let go of that which binds your own heart; forgive and embrace life. However, you don’t have to enable. You may simply need to “let go” of the offender if the he/she doesn’t respect you.
Is the church missing it?
In one ministry situation, a family devoted themselves to the discipleship of young adults and provided an incredible opportunity for them.
The couple wrote a short-film and cast the young adults. Churches and public facilities offered space for filming. Families drove their kids to and from practices and filming locations.
As the project came to a close, a few young adults complained. They were not pleased with some of the filming and edits. They dis-continued their involvement (bringing the project to a halt and causing ripple effects for many) because they were unhappy with details.
Where was the respect, gratitude, and consideration for everyone else involved? The youth made the adults “look bad” to their parents (one happened to be an elder in our church). He didn’t know what really took place.
My husband and I were not directly involved in the situation, but because of our position(s), we felt indirectly involved. We contacted the elder and thought he would WANT his kids to seek peaceful resolution as in Matthew 5:23-24 (ESV):
“If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there at the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
The youth and parents refused to talk. Our requests and concerns were ignored and not validated.
We still love this family. We forgive this family. We love members of the church.
However, the consequence of refusing to reconcile left us – unreconciled (and hurting for the couple and other volunteers that were treated unfairly). Meanwhile, the youth displayed poor character without accountability.
…We are called to a ministry of reconciliation to Christ. We must include attempts at reconciling with one another as part of our calling. The church is missing it, indeed.
I was taught to communicate and work through misunderstandings and offenses through gentle, intelligent, and factual dialogue.
Others, (who have not been taught how loving confrontation can lead to a restored relationship) often will avoid communicating. They simply refuse to talk. Some will say “I don’t want to re-hash.” If it’s never properly addressed in the first place, then how is there a “re-hash”?
Someone who loves the relationship is not interested in hurting that person. The dialogue/confrontation is meant to resolve things, make peace, bring understanding; restore relationship. If someone says, “I want to talk to work this out with you” then they most likely don’t have the intention of yelling, storming out, and unreasonably ending the relationship – it would go against their motivation to restore.
Of course, there are those who DO intend to confront and hurt. BUT…if one tells you they are looking to restore relationship, they most likely are looking to find a way to do exactly that: restore.
To the one seeking the restoration, when gentle communication and confrontation is denied, the message sent can feel a bit like this:
“I expect forgiveness (without asking for it), without changing anything, without acknowledging you; I expect you to move on and let it all go. I’m uncomfortable with confrontation (even if it’s from someone I love) and I refuse to come out of my comfort zone for you. It’s not worth it to me. You are not worth it to me. I simply don’t care.”
Perhaps the relationship is not valued enough for concerns to be validated. Perhaps the person doesn’t plan to apologize, and/or is unwilling to recognize their actions as hurtful (even if unintentional).
It’s no wonder that people are walking away from relationships. It’s no wonder that we live in a society of hurting people with many broken and lost relationships. It may not be the intention to send that message (above), but it is a message being sent in an entitled and selfish culture that has no clue about the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation.
Forgiveness and Reconciliation are different. We must approach them differently. We must always forgive, but we need to know that efforts (humility, love, communication, etc…) are needed for reconciliation.
Were you ever desperately hurt and someone says to you, “you just need to forgive and move on” ?
Yes, we always need to forgive. Sometimes, we NEED to talk. We need communication, confrontation (lovingly), and restoration.
It’s time we give reconciliation and restoration a careful consideration. If you love and care about someone, it’s worth a try!
Do YOU care?
Are you willing to forgive, reconcile, and take the steps toward peaceful resolution and restoration?
God’s seed: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9 NIV)
Planting God’s Seeds of Hope
*Brook Joy writes articles on Faith, Life, Culture, and her personal journey with Health (IBD). Brook is a chocolate-loving wife & homeschooling mama (and a Christian for 20+ years)… planting and growing God’s seeds of hope at missionzera.com