Monday, January 02, 2017

New Year. Renewed Life? Day 3

Day 2 gave me one more reminder of my need to be slow to wrath and to leaps into intense speech.

Here is Day 3.

Right Relationships and Wise Reconciliation

"So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift."  
Matthew 5:23-24  

 “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.  By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” 
John 13:34-35  

"Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves."
 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

With God, everything is about relationships. At its heart, spirituality is about loving God and one another and listening to God and to each other. We place ourselves far from God when we fail to love and fail to listen.

Questions for reflection: (a) Is there anyone (past or present) that I realize I have offended but to whom have not apologized? ___ (b) Have I failed to seek full reconciliation and make restitution to anyone I have harmed? ___ (c) Do I harbor the slightest unforgiveness and anger toward anyone? ___ (d) Do I privately rehearse angry things I would like to say to certain people? ___ (e) Have I become less able to respond with love because of disappointments with God or with others? ___ (f) As a parent, am I serving and guiding my family both temporally and spiritually? ___ (g) Have I in any way failed to treat my parents kindly and patiently? ___ (h) Have I spoken or e-mailed destructively about anyone? ___ (i) Have I publicly criticized or maligned someone I personally know who is trying to do good but is doing so imperfectly? ___ (j) Have I forwarded criticism that fosters nothing but hate, despising or great fear? (k) Am I involved in any form of gossip or fear-mongering? ___ (l) Do I tend to hurt and offend people with my words or e-mails? ___ (m) Is there any pattern of failing to forgive others, including spiritual leaders, whose imperfections disappoint me? ___

Relationships are tricky. Some people are extremely hard to love. Sometimes our efforts at reconciliation are tossed back in our faces with rejection and vitriol. Sometimes people are destructive and dangerous. Sometimes our sense of hurt or fear makes the thought of loving terrifying. 

 But loving and is not embracing. And loving is not excusing.   Loving is seeing others with God's eyes, which are full of grace and truth. 

Forgiving is not embracing.  It is letting go of the hardness in our hearts, handing the hurt up to God to heal and moving forward in peace and goodwill and wisdom.

 When we turn to God for clear revelation of specific steps we may need to take to repair our hearts and make relationships better there are answers. Resolve to be utterly honest with yourself and resist the human tendency to rationalize the sin of failing to love.

For prayer and repentance, determine now to put off sins of relationship. These hurts can be handed up to God as we move forward towards increased ability to love and listen.

Are there certain people to whom I should apologize? ___ Do I need to take specific steps of restitution? ____ (Restitution means repaying something I have taken or publicly seeking to restore a reputation I have damaged.) Is there some offense or bitterness I need to finally release? ___

Be completely honest with God and yourself. If people are coming to mind with whom you need to make a contact for reconciliation, or patterns in your responses to others that need to be changed, that is likely God speaking to your heart. Take time to write out specific steps you may feel guided to take.

Praying to be able to see another the way God sees him or her, and how to respond and move forward with both love and wisdom, really does work.

1 comment:

BrieAnn Lund Johnson said...

Reading through this one made me cry a little; I'll spend a bit of my tomorrow figuring out why.