Continued from here.
I recommend against making reconciliation decisions until you have made significant progress in forgiving the offender. For me, I needed over a year of praying for a family member who had deeply wounded me before I was ready to consider reconciliation. In situations involving minor offenses, I might only need a few hours. I have made the life decision never to allow bitterness into my heart again, so my recovery time from an offense has become much shorter. Situations in which I allowed bitterness to take root and flourish needed much more time to heal before I could consider reconciling. Until you forgive, you are likely to allow the pain to drive your decisions. Instead, you want reconciliation decisions to be made from a place of healing.
When you feel led to make a reconciliation decision, the first step is always prayer. Ask God to give you wisdom and discernment about whether or not to reconcile. Also, be honest with yourself about your motives for reconciling. For example, in the case of the family member that took me over a year to forgive, I felt God leading me to extend grace. This person hurt me because she had been deeply hurt herself. God wanted to use me to help heal her pain. While I did not feel love for her, God filled me to overflowing with His love for her. I made the choice to obey where I sensed God leading me, and He provided the love.
I have no expectations from this person. I did not reconcile based on what I could get out of the restored relationship – it was entirely based on what I could give. While I had nothing of myself to give, God provided me with all He had to give, and this profoundly changed my relationship with this person. The dynamic of our relationship is different because God changed me. He can do the same for you.
God does not ask us to walk back into an unhealthy dynamic and be martyrs. As you forgive, God changes you. Because you have changed, the dynamic of the relationship will also change because you are no longer the same version of yourself who was in that relationship before. As you allow God to love the offender through you, that person will also change. God’s love truly is that powerful!
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace dressed like an angel and saying, “I forgive you.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]