Forgiveness vs. Reconciliation

I have a scar from a recent trauma. My entire family does. I have struggled as a Christian. I have delighted in every misfortune that the perpetrator has faced since the attack that was unleashed on my family. I have laughed every time they lost. That is so not who I am.

I have relived the pain many times over through things the children have said. This big, horrendous, evil that was purposely done to my family nearly divided us and not even because it turned us against each other, but because we were no longer sure how to keep our children secure.

We would do ANYTHING to keep the kids stable, safe, and secure, even if it meant living separately. We never want our children to feel alone. Yes, this enemy went above and beyond to try to hurt us. They were desperate to break us up and in the name of something pure. Agencies were misused and people were lied to. It was all so intentional.

I have never seen anything more despicable in my life. I have never despised any other human any more in my entire life and trust me, I have known bad people. I felt I had struggled with forgiveness. I have prayed every day since last December for God to help me forgive this person. I look at the people that I am trying so hard to love in every good way possible. I look at someone who hurt the hearts of children and literally fled. I felt that they had just taken off and had never had to really see what they did or answer for their wrongs. I have deemed this multiple times “unforgivable”.

If I am honest, the victims of this event are actually doing better than they ever have. The kids are excelling in school. We are a tighter, happier family. The child who was impacted the most is lively, positive, energetic, and so full of love. It has involved work, counseling, reassurance and prayer, but everyone is better than before. So what was I holding on to?

We do not always see God’s presence in our triumphs. He doesn’t just speak through our successes. A lot of times He is seen in our scars and imperfections. His glory can shine through what once hurt us, but is gone now. He can be conveyed in what we have overcome or survived.

John 20:27
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

How do you forgive what was done to children? How do you document for a pending legal matter while not keeping score? How do you stop yourself from telling someone what they have done when they really feel no remorse at all? It has felt impossible.

My belief that I had an inability to forgive had gotten in the way of God and I. The relationship I need most had been impacted by what I thought was an unforgiving heart. This person that I thought was a prisoner of my unforgiveness was really on the other side of the bars.

The perpetrator could care less what had happened to any of us. In fact, if they read this they would be rejoicing to know how much hurt they caused each and every one of us. So what did I think I was accomplishing by not forgiving them? It is almost comical.

Luke 6:37
Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;

God calls us to forgive. He does not call us to reconcile with those who have hurt us. I realize that I have mistaken the two. I can forgive someone for their transgressions or the way they hurt me or my family, without signing up for more pain. God also tells us to guard our hearts.

Proverbs 4:23
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Do I believe that my own sin is just swept under a rug or hidden away in a dark closet? Do I believe that God looks the other way when faced with my wrongdoings? No. What I believe is that my sins were covered by the righteousness of the blood of Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus paid my debt on the cross and that sacrifice is a reflection of God’s grace and mercy.

How is this person’s sin any different? Is it my job to condemn them? No. Is it up to me how they pay for their crimes? No. That is God’s work and, honestly, Jesus already covered what was done to my family.

I had a moment this week that really rocked me. As a mother, I am fierce when it comes to protecting my family. I feel it is my job to keep them safe and to guard them from unnecessary evil. There is no wrong in that. The problem lies in my commitment to never forgiving a person who has hurt them. That is not living in the image of Christ.

On Thursday, a little boy had an amazing homerun and when he jumped in my arms for celebratory hugs and kisses, I felt something that I have not felt for a particular person in a long time. I felt compassion.

There I was standing in the awesomeness of being the cool “snack mom” and witnessing the perfect summer evening ball game. I got to see two little boys have moments of true baseball greatness. My transgressor did not get that moment and even though I was so wrapped up in the downright perfection of it all, I felt sympathy for them.

I thought about the notes I had been taking of things that were happening for a child each week. I had been doing that for a solid month without being asked. I didn’t really know why I was doing it, but I did it anyway. Maybe I was proud of this child, maybe I was being thoughtful. Maybe I was just bored. I don’t know. I did know, however, who the notes were meant for. Yep, guess who!

What I realized was I had already forgiven what had been done. All the prayers each morning had been at work. God needed me to let go of the struggle to forgive and let Him take over. A weight was lifted at this realization. Reconciliation had not happened and maybe would never happen, but the forgiveness was covered.

Maybe someone can relate to the confusion between forgiveness and reconciliation. This distriction has brought my heart comfort and helped me to be even more objective with my own feelings and reality.

I praise God for this discovery, but mostly for where this experience has led my entire family. Everyone is truly the best they have ever been and I praise God for every single bit of it. His glory has shone through the scars meant to destroy us. Praise God!

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