Have you ever had an estranged family member? Many of us have one, or remember a conflict in the past that resulted in a period of estrangement – maybe including a crazy uncle or something. If you haven’t experienced it yourself, you probably know at least one person who has. I have experienced it before, but right now I’m in the thick of it, as I have an immediate family member who has estranged the rest of the family.
The pain of this is probably best exemplified if you’ve been through it.
If you’re anything like me, you might be a problem-solver. In my mind the question is: what solution is there when there is a misunderstanding or clear wrongdoing?
“Common sense” or logic presents a multitude of options: letting the divide stand for fear of upsetting them further, or feeling that they are being completely wacko, staying angry with the person/people who have wronged you and casting all blame on them, telling them that they have to meet a condition (going to counseling, apologizing to you)… I think that I have experienced all of these feelings in the past few years.
Misunderstandings, fights, hurt and pain happen to everyone, no matter who you are or what you believe. We all have choices to make regarding how we will deal.
Personally, I feel like these family issues have been very cyclical problems that aren’t going away, and I’ve been in pain over them for years. Nothing I’ve done has made them any better.
Here’s how I’ve decided to deal: I am not leaning on myself anymore. All that I know logically has failed me, and every time it has failed, the pain is refreshed, another brick is added to my burden, and I feel despondent.
And I forget the work of the Lord [in my own life] – which is really the key to overcoming it all.
[2 Corinthians 5] 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
I love that: “He has committed to us the message of reconciliation” – we are to speak reconciliation with our lives. It’s something I’ve been realizing in my own life for awhile now: if I have been given grace, then I am to extend it to others.
Summed up: Jesus saves us, can love others through us and can speak a message through our lives that gives people the exact love/ forgiveness/grace that we have received from Him.
There’s one more aspect to “how far” we must go to reconcile, and we also have to base that in Christ. Because Christ laid down His life and sacrificed Himself for us, we have to lay down ourselves for reconciliation to happen.
Writer Ann Voskamp says that “Love is not passion. It is the pulse of sacrifice.”
Whether it’s saying, “I was wrong,” “I’m sorry,” “I forgive you,” or “I love you,” or driving hours upon hours to speak the truth into someone’s life, God wants us to be willing to go with the message. He wants us to stop looking at things in a way that demands respect and fair treatment for us. (I will add that these are things in which we will find freedom in doing, and they aren’t to be done without a genuinely loving/gracious spirit. Our goal must be reconciling in a Christ-honoring way, and not “doing my duty” or anything that would meet a requirement of man versus doing it with guidance of the Spirit.)
How far did the Lord go to meet you and become reconciled to you? He willingly died so that you could be His friend. How many wrongs have you done Him or others, days have you forgotten Him, times you have failed Him, and yet He loves you, hears you when you call on Him, and has saved you from death, hell and yourself?
I have committed to the message of reconciliation because my life is His, and without being reconciled to Jesus, there is no way I can hope to be reconciled to anyone else. You cannot give what you have not received. Lord, give me grace to love others as you love me. I want to be like the father of the prodigal son, who stood waiting and watching for his son when he came, and then gladly celebrated his return. For it wasn’t about what His son had done to him, but that the son had returned. And for that love to be shown in the moment of the son’s return, it had to have already existed beforehand.
I can’t wait for that day of reconciliation with my family, and I pray even now that grace and love will be cultivated in all of our hearts so that it will be fully abundant when the time comes.