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It Has to Start Somewhere

Aug 28, 2022

On Sunday night, our two older boys and I stayed up for a guy’s movie night. We don’t watch many movies that aren’t animated, so we were all excited about Invictus. I was in high school when Nelson Mandela was released from prison, so I had some knowledge of the story, but not much. It was a great movie.

Early in the movie, Mandela says something that has been on my heart since: “Reconciliation has to start somewhere.”

My mom and dad were divorced just over a year ago. 35 ¾ years of marriage….done. My dad made some very poor choices, hid some very serious sins for many, many years, and in the end, has chosen to go his own way. We’ve talked two times this year, January 10 and March 24…two of my son’s birthdays. Other than that, he doesn’t call or text…and maybe out of pride, neither do I.

Here is what I struggle with…there seems to be a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. In my heart, I believe I have forgiven my dad. I don’t feel resentment, but I definitely don’t feel reconciled. I’m good with our relationship at a distance because I have less of a chance of being hurt or disappointed or lied to. If I have low expectations then I won’t be let down. Unreconciled makes perfect sense to me.

Then I hear that statement “Reconciliation has to start somewhere.” As I’m trying to dismiss it I think about this statement from Jesus: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

Forgiveness seems easier to me than reconciliation. Forgiveness takes place in my heart and has no dependence on anyone but me. I can forgive you without you even knowing. I can set myself free from a toxic heart condition through forgiveness. Reconciliation takes place in the context of a relationship and has dependence on someone else.

Here is what I’m learning even in this moment: Reconciliation has to start somewhere, and that “somewhere” is with me.

Maybe there is a relationship in your life that has experienced forgiveness but not reconciliation. You’ve forgiven your sister, but haven’t reconciled. You’ve forgiven your husband, but haven’t reconciled. You’ve forgiven your mom, but haven’t reconciled. You’ve forgiven your friend, but haven’t talked in years.

Do you deserve for them to make the first move? Do you deserve for them to pursue you? Do you deserve for them to seek reconciliation? Probably. But life with God is all about not getting what we deserve. 

Maybe the reconciliation you desire in a particular relationship has to start with you.

The apostle Paul says it like this: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this today. Which is more difficult for you: forgiveness or reconciliation?