Sunday, May 20, 2018

What comes after forgiveness?

Let's say you have forgiven someone an offense, then what?  Wipe your hands of them?  Dust off your feet and be on your way?  Run back to them and go back to the exact same relationship?  Refuse to talk about the issues and enter back into relationship? Say 'good riddance' and flee from them? Ensure a repentant heart is involved and work to see if trust can be rebuilt as you cautiously enter back into relationship?

In some circumstances, fleeing may be advised, but we are still called to exhibit love.  Love comes in many different forms and can be shown in various ways, though.  Sometimes, love is best given at a distance depending on the situation and what offenses have been forgiven.

Again, reconciliation is not a given but forgiveness is; only you know your situation and what it takes to keep your self, your spouse (if you have one), and your kids (if you have them) safe, protected, and loved. An anonymous person once said:
Reconciliation is never a one way street when it comes to relationships. The one who has offended you must see how they have offended you and understand how that offense has hurt you, and they must come to you with humility. They must also accept the fact that maybe their offense was so egregious, that no matter how sincere they are in their explanations that you may never trust them. But you must set your healthy boundaries with the gentleness of a dove. And then if they honor your boundaries and keep them, then I think reconciliation might be a possibility. 

So what does love look like from a distance if reconciliation is not, at the very least, in the near future?  Honestly, a lot is situational.  What I can tell you, though, is it ought to begin with prayer.

Sometimes prayer directed at the person doesn't come for a long time depending on what has occurred; but when true forgiveness between you and God has happened and the situation(s) have been released through forgiveness, I would be shocked if there wasn't a different kind of love for that person that you then wished for them.  Whenever you have a thought that includes them, take hold of that opportunity and bring them before God, remember that no one and no relationship is without hope.  Paul dubbed himself chief among sinners, and yet God saved him and used him in powerful ways for His glory.

One thing you might want to try, especially if you have kids, is to start a prayer accountability calendar.  Each month, everyone in your family individually chooses a person outside of your family unit to pray for and commit to praying for them that month.  Have a square or different color that each member can mark off for the days they prayed for their person.  If nothing else, it is an easy way to engage the whole family in prayer while also teaching them to pray for others without telling them.  It would also be a great opportunity to pray for those who you are not currently in relationship with; the specific relational prayers obviously need not include your children within earshot but they will know if you are following through if you are marking off your checkboxes.

For a long time, the power of prayer was lost on me. It wasn't until the Lord re-worked and stripped away some major areas of pride in my life that He taught me what it is, how to do it in many various capacities, why it is important, how beneficial it is, and how much it is a necessary constant as we walk through this life. Some days, weeping alone to Him would constitute my communication as it was all I could bear.  And He sustained me and our family through all of the trials we have encountered in these last couple of years.

Prayer is and should be your first thought when you are dealing with relationships that have figurative bumps and bruises.  To that end, I hope that anyone reading this would come to a point in their life that they would be praying for those that have opposed them.  The reality is, there is a VERY narrow road, not many, not many at all will be praising God in Heaven when He comes again.  Someone claiming the name "Christian" does not a Christian make; not living according to the fruit that evidences a right relationship with Him ought to reconsider their relationship with Christ, especially if multiple people are telling them something is not right with what they claim versus their life choices.

But let it not be that you didn't care enough about their hearts while you were on earth and Jesus was preparing your heart to be with Him; that is a very dangerous paradox to cling to.  Every person will face judgment day, including you. Including me. Including the person(s) who wronged you. That should concern us all.

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