There’s no confusion about my occasional confusion. From time to time I mix things up. I have an medical excuse, but that’s not really why. (Secretly, I blame my gender).
I once drove halfway to Chicago on my way from St. Louis to Indy. Oblivious to my map, the in-dash compass, and the plethora of gigantic green signs, I was an hour north of I-70 before I realized my mistake.
Sometimes I mess up the directions.
Last week, I anxiously left the office heading to one of our favorite Italian restaurants. I got a table, ordered our drinks, perused the menu…and forgot to go by the house to pick up the rest of the family. Oops.
Sometimes I mess up our game plan.
When I was a kid, I thought Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon was actually about a small, green reptile named “Carmen.”
Sometimes I mess up the lyrics.
Forgiveness has confused me, too. For the longest time, I used it interchangeably with another important, spiritual word: Reconciliation.
Sometimes I mess up my vernacular.
Last week, we talked about the transactional aspect of forgiveness. The canceling of a debt. But in the midst of those soul-searching conversations, I realized I may have again mistakenly veered north on I-55. I thought forgiveness was synonymous with clearing the air. Re-establishing the relationship. Becoming Facebook buddies.
Sometimes I mess up the details.
Forgiveness and reconciliation may share some DNA, but they’re not identical twins. Here are some ways I’m learning to differentiate:
- Forgiveness can be immediate. Reconciliation may take some time (even lots of it).
- Forgiveness is the canceling of a debt. Reconciliation requires repentance and change.
- Forgiveness is commanded. Reconciliation can’t be forced.
- Forgiveness is between me and God. Reconciliation is between me and my offender.
- Forgiveness requires me. Reconciliation requires we.
Reconciliation is a noble and godly desire. But don’t confuse the lyrics. You can forgive right now, staring at your computer screen, your iPhone, your email inbox. You can choose to cancel the debt. You should cancel the debt.
And then pray that someday the wounds would heal, that humility wins out, that the relationship can be restored. Do some soul searching. Is there anything you need to own? To repent of? Make it right, and then let go and move on. In the freedom of forgiveness, with the hope of reconciliation.
What do you think? Do you ever confuse forgiveness with reconciliation?