What makes a person ready to reconcile? While it largely depends on the person and specifics of the situation, I created a visual about how I imagine this process works. I compare this process to building a doorway or opening in a brick wall.
In ancient cities, there traditionally was the main entry point that acted as the key to a city. The walls are designed to protect the city, and the doorway is designed for the city to be selective about who enters it. Stories tell of a particular door in Jerusalem called, “The Eye of the Needle,” in which camels supposedly had to be stripped of their loads in order to fit through because it was very narrow. This became my visual of reconciliation.
In order to fit through the door of reconciliation, both people must release their burdens. It takes a humble person to release whatever caused them to inflict hurt, and it takes a humble person to release the hurt inflicted on them.
I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve built doorways far too wide, and I’ve built walls where there should have been doorways.
It takes experience to know what size and shape to make an entry point to stay safe and welcoming.
I’ve been on hand and knee doing the messy work of bricklaying more than once. What is beautiful to me about this visual is that it allows readying oneself for reconciliation to be a deeply personal process; one done carefully by hand and with intentional placement.
So why do forgiveness and a willingness to reconcile also matter with those people whom it is not possible with? At the heart of it all is a value for humanity. Because humanity is made up of people, to hold contempt towards one person, including yourself, is to devalue humanity.
It can be a challenge to see the worth in ourselves, let alone others, if we have been treated as if we are worthless.
If we will allow our burdens to be removed, we can let go of what is not true about us. Before we condemn those who are struggling to see the value for humanity which forgiveness demands, let’s help people unburden. I recently heard someone say it beautifully, “…our character needs to change before our behavior does,” and that in order for our character to change, “we need to feel that we are loved.”