“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14
Does forgiveness require reconciliation? I used to confuse reconciliation with forgiveness and assume they had to function together. I found myself in endless cycles of hurt. In June of 2015, I decided I was done being angry about the hurts in my life. I wanted to learn how to set healthy boundaries and keep them. I was tired of feeling bitter and resentful toward those who had left emotional scars. I wanted to heal and experience the peace God promises. I realized I was viewing God, faith, and others through a lens of unresolved trauma and the inability to forgive. It was time to evaluate forgiveness and determine if reconciliation was healthy or possible.
For me, forgiveness is the conscious decision to stop keeping records of wrongs and, in doing so, free myself from the anger, bitterness, and resentment that comes from having been hurt by others. During this time, I heard about Celebrate Recovery, which is a program that helps participants cope with “hurts, hang-ups and habits.” I had plenty of those and so I chose to attend a local CR group. On the first night, leaders read the 8 principals for recovery. I was really inspired by the way the program pairs principles with scripture to help participants recover from hurt. The principles helped me to realize I had a long road ahead of me, but with God’s help I would one day experience joy without the underlying weight of my pain.
Principle 6 is to evaluate all my relationships; offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others (except when to do so would harm them or others). This principle is accompanied by Matthew 5:7,9 – “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
Through Celebrate Recovery I was able to recognize where I had misconceptions about relationships, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Because I thought that forgiveness required reconciliation, I found myself in cycles of hurt, abuse, poor choices, and the inability to set healthy boundaries. With prayer and dedication, I was able to live out Hebrews 12:14 and strive for peace with others by offering forgiveness even if the relationship could not be reconciled.
The beauty about forgiveness is it has freed me from the bondage of the emotional and physical effects of deep hurt. I’ve learned to forgive without the self-imposed obligation to continue unhealthy relationships.
At each meeting, we close with the serenity prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.
Posted on Fri, March 17, 2017
by Micah James