About a year ago, I started to feel like it was time to start praying about peace and reconciliation with my family.
I’ve been estranged from members of my family for the last three years because of the embittered relationship I had with my stepdad.
It was around August that I started to experience that feeling that the season of estrangement would come to an end. I didn’t invite the idea or try to interfere. I figured God would place the desire in my heart when the time was right.
It was the pastors who got me frustrated over this idea of reconciliation. During the months leading up to my mental health diagnosis, I did some pretty terrible things. Things that got me excommunicated from a church.
I didn’t understand. More honestly, I couldn’t understand. There’s few things worse than being trapped inside your own brain.
But God is faithful, no matter what. I began to research what justice is, what justice does. Primary justice, the act of living in right relationships with others, or tsedaqah, captivated me.
How differently would a person burdened by this idea of justice live?
March was a particularly rough month as I found myself sitting across the father who left me as a little girl, hearing his explanation and apology. I’m still not entirely sure how we ended up there, in that bowling alley.
I said I forgave him and I meant it.
It was the first time I saw what justice could look like. Justice looks a lot like compassion and forgiveness, not condemnation and punishment. It’s not easy or convenient. I wasn’t great at it.
The pastors’ refusal to seek this kind of justice irked me.
To whom much is given, that much more will be asked of him.
Every speaker I have ever heard teach on this topic has talked about how this means how much we are blessed is directly correlated to how much God will ask us to give.
But the most generous people I know are often the poorest.
I think every speaker is wrong.
The more suffering I am given to endure, the more grace God expects of me.
The pastors’ denial of grace towards me begins to make more sense. You can’t give what you know so little of.
I’m staring at the wreckage of the last year of my life. And while I’m driven to despair, my heart is turned towards grace. Grace for my stepfather. Grace for my mother. Because they both have their own mental health illnesses.
It doesn’t make anything said or done okay. Grace doesn’t excuse behavior. It just says that there is something more significant than being right.
Reconciliation is an act of God. It is how He demonstrates His love for us on the cross.
People will know us by the love we demonstrate.
We should always be reconciling with one another. Not silent or bitter. The striving to live in right relationships with others should be of more significance than being right.
I think back to the pastors. I know you can’t give what you’ve never experienced. I also know God is bigger than pride or shame.
This year of suffering is directly correlated to the amount of grace I will have to extend.
He will make things right.
He always has.