Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Copyright by Freedom in Christ, used with permission.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
Forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same thing. Ideally, we would be able to both forgive and be reconciled with someone who has hurt us. But in reality that is not always possible. Perhaps the person who hurt you has died, or moved away, or perhaps they are flat out refusing to be reconciled with you. Although that is difficult, it is OK. What God is asking you to do is to forgive. That is primarily an issue between you and Him, and doesn’t even need the other person to be involved. Although reconciliation does not always come together with forgiveness, it won’t come at all unless there has first been forgiveness.
When you have forgiven someone, the ideal scenario is that you will also be reconciled to them and God may direct you to attempt reconciliation. However, you can only do the “as far as it depends on you” bit of the verse above and there is no guarantee that you will be successful.
When you seek reconciliation, first make sure you really have forgiven the other person for the hurt they caused you. Then speak to them face-to-face, admit what you did wrong, say clearly that it was wrong, and ask them, “Will you forgive me?” Be careful not to blame them or justify yourself (and it may well not be helpful to say you have forgiven them because they may not think there was anything that needed forgiving.)
They may or may not forgive you, and you may or may not be reconciled. You will, however, have fulfilled your responsibility to do what you can to live at peace with them. And you will be free.