Continued from here.
If forgiveness does not require reconciliation, how do we know whether to reconcile?
You cannot base this decision on your feelings. If I did, I would have never reconciled with Person #1 but would have already reconciled with Person #2 because I valued the second relationship more than the first. Also, I was willing to put up with more “bad behavior” from Person #2 than from Person #1 for reasons I won’t go into to. Suffice it to say that if I allowed my feelings to drive my decisions concerning reconciliation after forgiveness, my story would the opposite of what I have shared.
Step one is to pray for God’s wisdom and discernment. Only He knows the heart of the other person. He knows the degree to which the person regrets the bad behavior and has truly repented of it. He also knows whether or not your presence or absence in that person’s life will benefit or harm him or her.
Note that I did not mention the benefit or harm of having that person in your life. Once you have forgiven the other person, he or she loses the power to continue emotionally harming you. Note that I am referring to emotional harm. If you are dealing with someone who continues to have the power to harm you (or someone else, such as your child) physically, pray for God’s wisdom in setting appropriate boundaries to protect you from physical harm if you sense Him calling you to reconcile with someone in a position to inflict physical harm.
As you forgive someone who has emotionally harmed you, God heals the emotional pain, which removes that person’s power over you. In fact, that’s one way you will know that you have fully forgiven the other person. As long as you remain mired in bitterness, you have given your “power” away to the other person, enabling him or her to continue inflicting emotional harm. Before I forgave Person #1, her words had enormous power over me. Today, whatever she says is irrelevant because the process of forgiveness dismantled that power. I no longer need emotional protection from her because God has healed my heart.
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace’s face on the cover of a book entitled, “Why Even Try?” Courtesy Bitmoji.]