Photo Credit: Kim Clayton Lance
Psalm 37:11 says, “But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.” The meek. The quiet. The gentle. The obedient. 2 Corinthians 13:11 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” The humble. The yielding. The submissive. 1 John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
I was driving my dad to a doctor’s appointment a few days ago and we were reflecting on the convoluted pathway to making things right between two estranged people or entities. Together we have 140+ years between us and similar thoughts about what step one looks like. It is tiny. It is timid. It might backfire. But it is possible. Only possible because of God’s grace and mercy. The kind of grace and mercy that removed the spiritual blinders of our hearts and revealed the power of redemption through Jesus Christ, to me and to my dad.
So here’s the thing. One courageous text, one courageous phone call, one contact, one gesture, one meeting – can be a good step one. Many “start overs” can be involved. Not like a New Year’s resolution, but an honest attempt to lay down our lives again and again. Pain is required. Dr. Henry Cloud, in his book Necessary Endings, says that pain is supposed to move us to do something. Step one. That something should reflect hopefulness. That something should encourage forgiveness, but not be confused with reconciliation, because the two things are different.
We can be whole even if reconciliation with a brother doesn’t happen. It takes only one to forgive, but two to reconcile. Reconciliation between humans is the dream, but forgiveness by the one is a wonderful step one. Step one gives you peace and it doesn’t hinge on the other one. And real peace comes from the One Who literally gave His life so that we could be reconciled with the Father. Through the Power of One (Jesus) – the One Who opened our spiritual eyes to know Him as the Loving Reconciler of our broken relationship with God, we have the only reconciliation that really matters.
But don’t stop trying. Take step one. Release the thing that someone owes you. The apology, the correct version of the truth, the acknowledgement of responsibility, the return of property, damage-fixing, comfortable togetherness, kindness, love, respect… Forgiveness doesn’t require a response from the other party. Step one. Endure the hurt and give God the opportunity to manifest the life of Jesus in your reaching out. Release your expectations. Except – always have the expectation that Jesus is continually at work doing His Father’s redemptive work. Always have the hope that reconciliation may occur through the Power of One – Savior. Always believe that forgiveness may lead to reconciliation.
Step one. Chase away the fog of brokenness. Attempt to mend fences. The meek are gentle while obedient. Colossians 3:13-14 says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”