Has someone ever really hurt you? …Yea, me too. I also know I’ve been the one to do the hurting.
Eventually, I became curious about the word, “forgiveness.” I’ve had a difficult time knowing where the step of reconciliation fits in the forgiveness process, or if it fits in at all.
I can think of plenty of examples where reconciliation is not possible: when the perpetrator is not remorseful, no longer living, or is unwilling to change the hurtful action. Surely, I thought, reconciliation is not part of forgiveness. Except internally, something in me didn’t feel clear.
It was a conversation with my brother that struck me when he stated, “forgiveness is the willingness to reconcile with the person who hurt you.” Willingness is also synonymous with “readiness.”
Let me make a clear distinction in saying that forgiveness is not necessarily the act of reconciliation, but rather the willingness to reconcile.
I also believe forgiveness as the absence of contempt towards the person who hurt you. But how do we know if we are free of contempt towards someone? My litmus test is this: if the person who hurt you were to change and have a complete capacity or desire to restore whatever was damaged, would you be willing to accept that reality?
This hypothetical may or may not reflect external reality, but for me, it quickly reveals my heart toward the person and situation. I also understand that my conclusion about reconciliation may be a bold one given some of the horrific acts human beings commit against each other, and I still wrestle with that.
I also want to be clear that emotions should be validated and processed before reconciliation is approached, and it is imperative that people’s pain is dignified by allowing them to step into the forgiveness process when they are ready. Approaching these situations with sensitivity and humility is essential.
Part II coming soon…