Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Reconciliation: Not As Easy As It Sounds

The following passage was written by Catholic priest and author Henri Nouwen. The post-notes are mine.
"Reconciliation is much more than a one-time event by which a conflict is resolved and peace established.  A ministry of reconciliation goes far beyond problem solving, mediation, and peace agreements.  There is not a moment in our lives without the need for reconciliation.  When we dare to look at the myriad hostile feelings and thoughts in our hearts and minds, we will immediately recognize the many little and big wars in which we take part.  Our enemy can be a parent, a child, a "friendly" neighbor, people with different lifestyles, people who do not think as we think, speak as we speak, or act as we act.  They all can become "them."  Right there is where reconciliation is needed.
Reconciliation touches the most hidden parts of our souls.  God gave reconciliation to us as a ministry that never ends."
~ Henri J.M. Nouwen
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 I have a few thoughts on the topic of reconciliation today.

  • It is not always possible, and this does not make you a failure. Sometimes two people are so widely apart and one or both parties are unwilling to look beyond "the issue" or mend fences, and a happy outcome, even if craved, is not possible. To reconcile in some of these situations means contorting yourself into someone/something which you are not, and you will go on making each other unhappy.
  • Sometimes the two people or two sides are so far apart on "the issue," whether it be religious, political, or social views, that they are simply unwilling to budge. This also does not make them a failure. It simply makes them a different human being than you are.  And if you truly love them, you will agree to disagree, move on, and stop stoking the fire that one of you has been poking at for so long.
  • There are different levels of relationships: acquaintances, casual friends, confidants, lovers. If something can be salvaged, that is a good thing; if not, again, one must move on.
  • There are many times when pain is inevitable, such as estrangement from a parent or an impending separation or divorce. Rather than dance around that pain and contort ourselves and try and become a different  person to suit their needs, we would do well to (painfully) bid them farewell, at least for now, and continue on our own journey.
Wherever you are today on your personal journey, I wish you peace and love,

Mark Andrew