by Anne Bosworth
What would it take for you to actively seek out an enemy, or someone from whom you are currently estranged, to have an honest, deliberate, balanced/fair conversation and make peace and rebuild the relationship? I'm not talking about re-entering the lives of truly dangerous, abusive people, but rather family and friends with whom you've had a falling out due to some misunderstanding, extenuating circumstances, poor communication, or even people who have drifted away from your life, your group, or your church.
What would it take for you to stop scrolling through Facebook status updates and pick up the phone, or shoot off an email to share a word of kindness, welcome, or even to take responsibility for your role in the problem...and (for the record) you absolutely DID have a role.
If the answer has anything to do with hell freezing over, an apology from the other person, fear of rejection, unresolved anger, lack of time, lack of interest, different paths,
First, ask God honestly and regularly to show you your role. Ask Him to correct you and show you what needs to change in YOU. In abusive, unhealthy relationships what needs to change is your acceptance of truly inappropriate treatment. But before you make a pathology of the situation or the other person make sure you're not bandying about psychological buzz words, and popular counseling strategies without being honest about your very real, and probably equally messed up, ways of relating. It's not enough to say, "God, please forgive me for being a bad friend, or making a hasty commitment" and then vow to do better in future relationships. Don't just ask God to help Cousin Suzy (or whomever) forgive you and give you both a good life, without actually taking active responsibility, and making consistent effort to heal the rift to restore the relationship to a mutually satisfying and healthy balance.
Not every effort you make will be received at first, or result in an immediate healing/restoration, but if YOU make peace and reconciliation YOUR habit and your prayer there WILL be positive results...one way or another.
If someone has made overtures of forgiveness, peace, and reconciliation to you...for goodness sake, accept them and build upon them! Go to counseling together if you have to, but get things going and don't give up! If you have been the one making the overtures...don't give up. Keep the person and the situation intentionally at the front of your prayers. God never gave up on you. Don't be so quick to give up on other people...especially those whom you have loved, and those who have clearly loved you. If you have fond, kind, warm memories that were interrupted by a mistake, a traumatic situation, an argument, or sometimes even a terrible tragedy, then chances are good that reconciliation and restoration can and should happen. Even when you have been terribly, terribly wronged by someone...or have done a terrible, terrible wrong to someone...did you ever stop to think of how much darkness and trouble and sin can emerge by way of guilt, shame, and unforgiveness?
For Christians, it begins and ends with Christ. What has He done for you? How much and how often have you been forgiven by and reconciled to Him? What does He ask of you? How will you respond? Does He have any lost causes? Who are you in Him...because of Him? Why would you withhold from someone else what you have been given freely, abundantly, and repeatedly by Him? Don't you think it's time?