We live in a broken world. Almost every day, we find ourselves hurt by someone else. Almost every day, we find ourselves hurting someone else – often without intending to do so, but we hurt others none-the-less. Most often, these are minor issues that are easily apologized for, and just as easily forgiven. But what happens when the injustice is much larger? What if an abuse has been systemic and long-term? Can healing take place?
I believe that harm is not only inflicted on the victim, but damage is done to the soul of the perpetrator of a crime as well…so can healing and reconciliation take place?
If you have harmed me, I cannot force you to apologize – and if you choose to never apologize, can I heal? Yes. Through forgiveness, I can heal, regardless of your lack of apology – regardless of you not even accepting my forgiveness
If I have harmed you, I cannot force you to forgive me. I can repent. I can apologize with full sincerity, but I can never coerce forgiveness from you. Through the act of repentance, and the act of forgiving myself for the crime I have committed, I believe that yes, I can be healed from the damage I have done to myself for what I have done against you.
One caveat to both of the above: I cannot truly repent, nor can I truly forgive without the grace of God – it is only through God’s love that I can ever find the strength to forgive. It is only through God’s love that I can ever find the courage to admit my faults.
Healing can be hard. It’s hard to admit my faults. It’s probably even harder to forgive you for your faults – but I think that reconciliation is harder yet. Reconciliation is the restoration of relationship. It is the laying aside of differences. It is not merely mutual toleration, but mutual love.
I can apologize to you, but if you will not forgive, we are not reconciled
I can forgive you, but if you have no regret for pain that you have caused me, we are not reconciled
It is only when the perpetrator of an act is truly repentant and apologizes to his victim…and…when the victim of an act is truly willing to forgive that reconciliation can begin.