What do you do when a person that you have severed connection from suddenly sends a request to reconnect- to repair the relationship? Is such repair even possible? How many times are we to forgive another who has trespassed against us? Reconnection request- how do we respond?
We Are Called to Forgive
Does forgiveness mean inviting someone back into your life, or can you forgive another without ever having to be in their lives again? How does such forgiveness work? How many times do we forgive?
“How many times shall I forgive my… sisters who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
The verse from Matthew tells me that counting all the times you forgive a person is of no concern. How many times have you forgiven your spouse for forgetting something you asked them to pick up or remember? How many times have you forgiven your child for “breaking the rules”? Do you keep track? Do you stop at 7 or 77?
Are Boundaries Bad?
Sometimes, we have to sever connections. Sometimes, we can offer forgiveness and also make the choice to not invite that kind of connection back into our lives. But where do we draw the line?
What we should be asking is this: Will needs be met through this connection? Is it a limited connection or will it endure? Can this connection provide a space for healing and also transformation? Is there potential for a reconnection and repair or are severed lines to remain severed? How do we discern?
Author Alexander Shaia reveals in Heart and Mind, that through the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus shows us all how to receive ultimate betrayal.
He [Jesus] completely embodies the principles he taught in the Sermon on the Mount, returning nothing but the greatest love and respect even when it is not offered to him. He then calmly accepts his arrest. Could there have been a more dramatic example for…responding to betrayal with equanimity and compassion?
How many of us greet betrayal with compassion? (I am not raising my hand.) If we did, however, imagine how insanely beautiful and peaceful life would be.
Does this mean that we should all expect to instantly develop this level of unconditional and unwavering love? Probably not. My guess is that the most extreme example of betrayal as Judas kissing Jesus, was to be our precedent for the rather simplistic betrayals we experience today. If Jesus was able to receive Judas with love and respect, how can we not extend the same for those in our lives?
Betrayal is often the go-to reason for a severance of connection. Does betrayal ultimately mean the end-all?
Is it Authentic or Just a Temptation?
When we become self-aware of particular reasons why we find we must cut someone out of our lives; we have to go through a lengthy and sometimes enduring process in order to reconcile and justify the ultimate decision. It’s never easy. Betrayal gives us cause, certainly. But it’s not the quintessential, qualifying justification to sever a connection.
What if the connection is just a brief necessity to fill the void of an unmet need, and by acquiescing, we are providing for the Other in a way that is Christ-like; that does give the greatest love and respect even if it is not offered in return? Is that what they call “suffering for salvation”? What happens if you believe all will be saved? Is suffering still a part of the equation?
Should we never expect to be tempted with a reconnection request? The past has a funny way of sneaking up on you and knocking on the door, presenting itself as new and improved; with intentions to only create more chaos. I believe in always keeping the door open, but I still have a right to say who crosses that threshold, don’t I?
The thought of repairing a relationship that has been so weathered and damaged for so long creates anxiety and fear for me. I get into a habit of presupposing what will happen if I grant space to such requests, again.
What if it’s the same old, same old? What if the patterns and habits haven’t changed at all? Didn’t I see red flags before? The elephant still stands there and I am still not allowed to address it. So, is this really a beneficial venture to invest in?
But what if the other person had their “red pill” moment? What if they changed? Do I offer them another chance? Am I strong enough to endure this difficulty? Do I even want to give this person energy?
If the person has always been an energy-drain in the past; does the method of forgiveness Jesus speaks of entail that, I not only open the door, but offer my hand to walk that person back through? Or can I just wave from the entry and wait for them to leave?
I want to do what is right. I want to always offer the possibility for connection. I know that connection leads to understanding and ultimately love. I have said before that connection is the only cure for hate. But the fear of connecting only to receive a disconnection message creates an anxiety that I don’t know if I am ready to grant space for.
If connection is the cure, shouldn’t that mean that reconnecting will repair?