Thinking about love and reconciliation

This was one of the scriptures I was thinking about for myself:

“A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men [people] know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” — Jesus’ words, John 13:34-35

I’ve regretted writing with such a tone about these people we used to be able to fellowship with (a particular family in a congregation) and there has been a recent attempt (beginning with the wife’s part) to discuss these issues with me and why we were so divided. My response was full of emotion and pain, and I don’t know if she understood my pain in these matters, but I regret causing her any distress. After leaving the encounter on a neutral note, as I returned home the flood of feelings washed over me and have been with me for the last 3 weeks. I have sent an email expressing my sorrow and asking forgiveness for my coldness, and though she said she forgave me, it seems the lack of response to other reconciliatory attempts are being met with silence, for which I blame myself.

I’m greatly saddened that our family not only lost the only friends (that regularly included us in their lives) as a family that we made from that congregation over the several years of attendance, but that I’m going through all the exact emotions I felt when I left the congregation for these very same matters over a year ago. I made myself vulnerable again, only to feel such hurt and rejection again. I’m trying to learn that although we can have strong opinions that differ on the Scriptures (I believe in the inerrancy of the Scriptures, though), that I need to just let others’ opinions not affect me so much. I need to grow up and have grace with others. I pray God’s blessing for that family and really, really wish things could have turned out with us still being friends, though, I don’t know where they stand with us anymore. If by chance they see this post, I want them to know I’m truly distraught over the way things turned out, and would like to see reconciliation and fellowship between us again and have the opportunity to share in the love of Christ with them.

“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him: rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” – Colossians 2:3

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” – Colossians 3:12-15

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2 Responses to “Thinking about love and reconciliation”

  1. Savannah Says:

    Kathleen, I just wanted to encourage you to keep seeking God in these matters and continue to ask Him for a spirit of peace and love. Sometimes these matters are very difficult to sort out and sometimes it just doesn’t happen at all, or happen to the extent of full reconciliation, but we must know that God is in control.

    I have experienced this on another scale. I had a friendly relationship with a local Christian woman, although we never attended church together. One day she posted some very hateful things on a local community cyber-bulletin board about victims of sexual abuse and assault. I don’t know what made her do that, but maybe she was just having a very bad day. This really bothered me, as she is a well-known Christian because she posts about her beliefs a great deal.

    Anyway, it really continued to bother me as I have worked a a sexual assault crisis counselor during college and because I know of girls and women who have experienced this great harm to them and the last thing they need is for somebody writing awful things about their collective character, even if it is just part of some “larger point”.

    So I prayed about it and decided to phone her up. Well, let’s suffice it to say the conversation did not go well. Although I tried to let her know that I presumed she meant well and had a reason for posting what she did, that maybe she hadn’t considered the collateral damage that could occur (she is also the wife of a very popular high school teacher, and I know a lot of young girls and women look up to her, which only added to my worry). She was very defensive and very angry at me seemingly for daring to question her at all, and she ended up screaming at me and telling me that I was sick and needed help because “obviously” I had been sexually abused (although I have not). I, too, did not handle the conversation well, particularly at the end when I allowed my frustration to get the better of me and said some things which really called her character into question.

    Anyway, being very shaken by it all, I prayed some more and determined that I would let a little time elapse and then send her a note of apology about my culpability in the conversation-gone-wrong. But later that day, when I checked the community bulletin board, she had detailed her “version” of our private conversation for the whole world. I was stunningly hurt, not only about the half-truths and some complete falsehoods, but that she would take so lightly the approach by another Christian sister in private and try to turn it into a public matter.

    So I just tried to forget about it and I stopped posting on the bulletin board for more than a year. I prayed that God would remove the bittnerness from me and provide a path for reconciliation. After more than a year, I posted on the bulletin board about some completely unrelated community matter. Well, she pounced. She called me out over and over, and in my hurt and anger, I defended myself, and it just went more downhill from there. Then she started posting on her public blog negative things about my son who was a student of her husband’s at the time. By this time, my husband was starting to really become aggravated, and he approached school officials to get it stopped. She ended up making her blog private and I removed my membership completely from the community bulletin board. I have done everything possible to stay out of her way and not give her any reason to attack my family. And I continue to pray for reconciliation. To my human heart, it seems less likely than ever. My friends tell me to forget about her, that something is wrong with her, but I don’t know that for a fact, and what I do know is that she is a sister – a co-heir – in Christ.

    So even in this seemingly hopeless situation, I still have faith that God will provide a path to reconciliation if I really seek it. So I continue to ask God to remove from my heart and spirit things that are roadblocks in that path – residual hurt, bitterness, anger, defensiveness. Obviously, that process is not complete yet, but I have faith that as I am willing, He will continue to work in my heart in His good time.

    In the meantime, I look to Scripture for wisdom, and I love Romans 12:18 – If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (NIV)

    So as far as it depends on me, that is my continued hope and prayer.

    Blessings,
    S

  2. Kathleen Says:

    What you wrote is so encouraging to me, Savannah. The Lord has put Romans 12:18 on my heart as well, and the practical ways in which He wants me to live that out. It’s very difficult, especially when dealing with people who are “teachers” and “leaders” within the community of believers who are teaching error and presuppositions and preferences instead of just the Word.

    God is working in us things we can’t do on our own, and often that comes with the crucifying of our flesh. I think it has to do with humility (in ourselves) and compassion, and LOTS AND LOTS of PRAYER. Often with tears, that reach the Throne.

    I remember the days when I believed many of the same things some of our friends believe that are man-made doctrines and offensive beliefs that leave out compassion for the hurting. I cringe when I think of those days (and I probably have many things to learn as well now), but God was patient and kind to me all along the way.

    His Body is hurting, and I want to offer hope, not burdens. That’s why I come down so hard on the teachers of various exclusive teachings and downright twisting of Scriptures. I often wonder about their motives, and wonder if they have left sound doctrine out of greed or lust for fame and success and the appearance of being examples to God’s Church, effectively posturing themselves. So, I pray for His Truth to be revealed not only to the teachers themselves, but to their followers.

    In all these prayers, I pray for my own self, that I’d not return to bitterness (it’s hard coming out from under such manipulative teachings, and come away without feeling almost destroyed by dark, spiritual heaviness), but it is a process. I’m learning and growing, especially in the area of not taking things so darned personally, and realizing where they are coming from in others. Fear and legalism that they are under is a driving force and recognizing I’ve been set free by Jesus Christ, my Savior is where I need to focus.

    Philippians tells us to think on “whatever things are true, things that are honest, things that are just, things that are pure, lovely, of good report; if there’s any virtue, and any praise, think on these things.” – Phil. 4:8

    These things are all wrapped up in Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. The only Person I need to focus on is Jesus, not other men and their teachings. When I keep my eyes on Jesus, I can see these things and desire to be just like Him. It puts me in a puddle on the floor when I realize how wonderful He is and how far I am from Him, yet He still whispers how much He loves me in my spirit. Unfathomable!

    Oh, the glorious grace of our God!

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful testimony of the process our God is taking you through, even if it means pain and heartache and vulnerability.

    With you in prayers to God,
    Kathleen

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