Navigating the Road to Reconciliation

0 comments Posted on March 1, 2020

by Anita Agers Brooks

Relationships. Forgiveness. Restoration. How do we navigate each of these elements of the human condition, and arrive at a place of peace within ourselves, with others and with God? Anna’s story provides a great example of navigating the road to reconciliation.

Her mother-in-law’s volatile temper made people around her walk on eggshells long before Anna joined the family—Anna just didn’t know it until a couple of months into her marriage. The first few times Betty exploded in front of her, Anna cowered mentally and emotionally, as well as making a quick exit from the room. But eventually, the time came when Betty’s wrath directly hit Anna—there was no option for immediate escape.  

Betty’s shrieking started over something so silly and misinterpreted that Anna could hardly believe her ears. She first tried explaining and defending herself. Betty heard none of it, and only screamed louder. Reason was not in the elder woman’s vocabulary. It was only when Anna said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to cause any problems,” that Betty finally simmered down. There was only one problem, Anna’s apology was a lie. Even after spending intense quiet time scrutinizing every detail, she knew she had done nothing to warrant Betty’s outburst. 

Over the years and many similar situations, Anna became conditioned to simply let Betty have her way and be right, even when she was blatantly wrong and out of line. Anna noticed the rest of the family did the same. That is, until the ridiculous turned dangerous. 

Betty called 9-1-1 and claimed her son (Anna’s husband) had hit her when he refused to react to her cursing and repeated kicks against his shins. With a triumphant, “There. That’s what you get,” Betty hung up, then threw the phone across the room, busting it into pieces. 

After an interrogation from sheriff’s deputies, Anna and her husband were asked to leave the premises for “the sake of peace.” They did, but walked to their car with slumped shoulders and weighted hearts.

For months afterward, Anna wrestled with her emotions and tossed in bed at night. Due to personality and her Christian values, Anna repeatedly imagined going to Betty and apologizing, yet something prevented her from following through. 

Anna knew that initiating reconciliation would enable her mother-in-law’s future tirades. An inappropriate apology would simply reinforce Betty’s patterned and toxic habit of bullying to justify poor behavior and as a means to get her way. Betty’s actions resembled that of a spoiled, petulant child more than those of a mature woman. If Anna and her husband followed family protocol, not only would they subject themselves to further verbal and emotional abuse, but others would endure more of the same, as well. But as a Christ follower, what was Anna to do?

When considering relational peace, we must understand that the roadmap for navigating the road to reconciliation offers more than one route. Which is the most efficient and effective? That depends on your starting point and the information you get from GPS (God’s Perfect Strategy). 

So often, we make a decision about whether to reconcile or not, or how to go about it if that’s our choice, without consulting God. There’s no question that relational peace is always the desired outcome, but the who, when, where, what and how are best decided by our Heavenly Father. 

There have been times when I’ve gotten a clear greenlight for initiating reconciliation. But surprisingly, in some situations, God has instead given me a yellow and even a red light. How can I tell? I go to the Bible, prayerfully searching for answers to my specific questions about a particular circumstance. As I study God’s Word, I’m often given blatant direction about the concerns on my heart. 

In Anna’s case, she studied her NIV Bible while asking God how He wanted her to approach her mother-in-law. She was amazed to run across multiple scriptures that seemed to speak a similar message. 

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14 

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’” Psalm 46:10a

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” Psalms 37:7

Though it felt like sitting on her hands while she waited for God’s movement, Anna exercised quiet faith for over three years. It seemed reconciliation with Betty would never happen—until God’s shocking intervention. 

At a family funeral, Anna was talking with her nephew, when she felt a tap on her shoulder. Turning around, her breath caught. Betty stared straight into Anna’s eyes, then pulled her in to a lingering hug. As she squeezed, Betty whispered, “I’ve missed you. I love you.” 

While Anna prayed privately, God had done a miraculous work on the elder woman’s heart behind the scenes. Through Anna’s obedience and by staying out of God’s way, reconciliation took place. There were roadblocks, bumps, curves, and even a few potholes as Anna and Betty navigated the road to peace, but with intentionality and open hearts, their relationship was not only restored, but transformed into a much healthier version. 

By looking into the rearview mirror, it became evident to Anna that God had provided insights for her journey toward reconciliation with Betty. She had learned a lot—and we can, too. Whether we are set on the road to reconciliation now or later, these elements of God’s Perfect Strategy will help us arrive at a place of greater peace.

  • Before acting, go to God and His Word for guidance.
  • Choose the right timing.
  • Honestly analyze your motives and your expectations—ask the Holy Spirit to correct any misalignment.
  • Focus on respect more than being right.
  • Listen twice as much as you speak.
  • Be prepared to politely agree to disagree at times. 
  • Be assertive not aggressive.
  • Communicate clearly and consistently, but not when emotions are high.
  • Set healthy boundaries and exercise accountability measures if they are breached.
  • Never forget that the ultimate goal is love and peace. 

Reconciliation is rarely easy, but when done God’s way, the destination makes the route worthwhile.

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