Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Do I have to Stay with Him?

“Didn’t I tell not to wear those slippers again?” With knitted forehead, and reddened cheeks and ears, Paul was desperately trying to hide the fact that they were facing hard times.

“Well, it’s all that I have… dear” retorted Michelle, with a taint of sarcasm and being tired of the pretences and the having to keep up with the Jones.

Paul and Michelle have been married for 11 years now, and they had certainly seen better financial days.  Michelle was from a well to do (very well to do) family.  Michelle loved Paul and was willing to work with him.  She was prepared to deny herself the life she was accustomed to if only she could be with him.  Paul, on the other hand, came up on the rough side, and he wanted more.  He was driven and hardworking, and had carved out a decent standard of living without Michelle’s family’s help.  He insisted on them accepting nothing from her family – barely even a gift.  But as happened to a good many persons all his financial accumulations were swallowed by a financial institution that had run a wreck.  Lured by the magnetism of a super high interest rate, he aborted conventional knowledge and placed all his eggs into one basket.  Well, the basket toppled and he lost all his funds and was now barely meeting his monthly mortgage payments.  He was running out of friends to borrow from, because by now he had owed virtually all of them and couldn’t go back for more.

The usually kind and affectionate Paul had changed.  He had become impatient, and snapped at anything…everything.  A few times before, in fact, he had raised his hand at Michelle, but had managed to pull back before he went too far.  But this time it he lost all restraint….

Two months later Michelle decided to allow Paul to visit her at her parents’ house.  He came, flowers in hand, teary eyed and remorseful.  He desperately begged her forgiveness, and told her that he was really looking forward to her coming home.
“I’m not coming home.  I’m staying with my parents,” Michelle informed Paul. 
“But I thought you had forgiven me,” Paul pleaded, puzzled at the twist things were taking.
“Oh I have,” Michelle responded.  “But I’m not convinced that you have changed sufficiently.  I know you miss me, and I miss you too.  But you hurt me Paul; in so many ways.  I can’t risk opening up myself to you like this again – not while I’m not convinced that you have changed.

Forgiveness, repentance, and reconciliation – what have they in common?

Forgiveness is an action taken by the offended to let go of the hurt, the hate and resentment that may be experienced by one who has been done an evil deed.  This action is mutually exclusive to the act of repentance on the part of the offender.

Repentance is an action taken by the offender, who in a spirit of true remorse turns away from a behavioural trait that would produce division, hurt, hate, and resentment in an offended person.  Repentance is not just being sorry; it is being changed as well.  This too is a mutually exclusive to the act of forgiveness on the part of the offended.

In context, reconciliation is the act of restoring relations between two or more persons who have been party (whether as the offender or the offended) to the committing of an offence that has produced division, hurt, hate, and resentment.  If reconciliation is to work however it requires all parties to be involved: the offended will have to forgive while the offender will have to repent.  So then reconciliation is a product of forgiveness and repentance. 

It is not surprising that while Jesus was on the cross and while Stephen was being stoned they both pleaded for the forgiveness of the offenders, even as they executed their diabolical intentions.  Forgiveness does not require repentance to be authentic; it only makes reconciliation possible once the offender repents.
If you have been offended, learn to forgive; if you have offended, then repent
Thereby is reconciliation made possible, because each of these is a requirement