Licensed Christian Counselor
Specialist in Child & Adolescent Therapy
Life Training Christian Counseling
There’s a common misconception that forgiveness and reconciliation are interchangeable in application. Somewhere we’ve missed the idea that forgiveness can, and often must, include boundaries. This is important, because many times we are hurt by an individual who will never acknowledge their actions or apologize for their participation in your hurt. It is a gift that our forgiveness is not dependent upon others. However, we’d be doing a disservice if we didn’t acknowledge how important forgiveness is for the reconciliation of a relationship. If we do not do the personal soul work required in forgiveness before we attempt to mend what is broken, we run the risk of further damaging the connection with those we love.
Paul reminds us of the danger of unforgiveness in Ephesians 4:26-27. Anger is a tool God has given us to assess our boundaries in relation to how others are treating us, but it can easily be mistreated. We abuse our anger in one of two ways:
- Using it to lash out or hurt others, or
- Refusing to acknowledge it and therefore harboring bitterness.
Bitterness is a venom that infects our heart and coats our words and attitude. When I attempt to reconcile a relationship while bitterness is still present, I am on the defense before the conversation even starts. I approach the table with walls of hurt so high that humility and understanding are left sitting outside, and I will leave the table more isolated than before. If my desire is to make steps toward a healthy and whole relationship with another individual, I must be at the place of seeing them as a child of God and NOT the object of my pain.
If while reading this, you find yourself in the place of wanting reconciliation but still feel bitterness rooted in your soul, know there is hope for you in Jesus. It IS possible to see those who hurt you with new eyes and to move forward past this hurt. I don’t want to minimize the process–forgiveness is difficult and can be painful. But it is also incredibly beautiful. As you begin the process of forgiveness and healing, here are a few things to remember.
You Were Forgiven First!
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.romans 5:8 NIV
Sometimes the weight of this verse is lost. Paul is saying that while we were actively, unrepentantly disrespecting God, Christ died for us! And on the cross, while he was being mocked and crucified, Christ cried out on our behalf, saying, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). We are not forgiving from the goodness of our own heart, but we are extending the forgiveness God has already offered to us and to them.
You Must Release Control
Part of forgiveness is letting go of the need to see the punishment equal to OR receive an apology. Now, in order for reconciliation to be possible, both parties must be willing to acknowledge their part in the hurt of the other. However, we are not in control of whether the other individual owns their behavior or apologizes for their actions. We know “the Lord is righteous [and] he loves justice” (Psalms 11:7). We also know His ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). We must yield to His sovereignty and trust in God’s will regarding the hearts of those around us. Only then can we turn our thoughts inward and search our own hearts.
You Are Not Alone
Forgiveness is hard. It is not of human nature to release the pain someone else has caused. In fact, prior to the grace we receive through Jesus, it was just to get equal retribution for the pain caused by someone; an eye for an eye (Matthew 5:38). But Jesus has called us to more. He has given us the opportunity to walk in freedom from bitterness and resentment, and made a way for broken relationships to be reconciled. If this feels overwhelming to you, or even impossible, know there are people who will walk alongside you as you seek healing. Find a counselor who will give you the space and grace to be honest with your pain and patient in your healing. In Christ, you can be restored again!
Kayla Wright joined the counseling team at Life Training Christian Counseling in May of this year. The passion of her counseling work is to make a meaningful difference in the lives of teens and pre-teens.
Kayla is nationally licensed as a Christian Counselor by the National Christian Counselors Association, with an advanced board certification in Child & Adolescent Therapy. Kayla gained extensive experience and credibility in providing counseling to teens and pre-teens during her tenure on the staff of Revive Christian Counseling in Owensboro and Madisonville, Kentucky.
Kayla Wright, as well as each of our other counselors, offers convenient sessions at our office in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as online counseling via Zoom or FaceTime. Please click on this link to learn much more about how our COUNSELING FOR TEENS & PRE-TEENS in Louisville, Kentucky can help the child you love find the highly-effective, Christ-centered help they need. Contact us today at 502-717-5433, or by email at email@example.com