It is a sterling moment when people reward your faith in them. I have two very distinct, powerful moments that I hold to dearly with each of my sons. Both, after some months out on their own, came back to me and thanked me for the love and guidance I gave them, for the life lessons and principles I worked to instill in them, and for my patience with them during those crazy, challenging teen years. Priceless moments each, I will never forget them.
People have a way of surprising you. You can have hurtful, challenging, heart-wrenching discussions and arguments that pierce your heart. Yet at this point in my life I have repeatedly seen when I do my best to stay god-centered during those times, really striving to come from a place of love and kindness, even if the initial moment doesn’t go well, over time the love often wins out.
I have had people come back to me weeks, months and even years after negative, hurtful exchanges to heal, seek forgiveness, reconnect with me again, or simply thank me for my effort. As I’ve stepped back in wonder at this, I have to admit a few things. First, I didn’t handle every interaction perfectly. I did the very best I was capable of and strove to approach it from a good heart, but my words and actions were still flawed. In other words, it’s not me that made this happen. I don’t have some sort of Midas touch or gilded tongue that works magic over time.
Second, I have made poor decisions that have placed me in the conflict to begin with. It’s not like I’m always the bigger person offering grace and mercy. Sometimes I’m the one needing to receive it. And there are times I know in advance the person I’m going to have a challenging discussion with is not going to “get it.” They’re not going to understand my perspective because they are too locked up in their own. That’s okay. It’s still important to try. You never know when the lights will brighten and they’ll understand, just as I’ve had comments people have made come back to me years later only to be deeply struck by the wisdom and truth in what they shared.
What I’ve come to realize – the true miracle is love. Love is a powerful and amazing tool, able to reshape the human landscape. 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” As hard as it is for me to offer a loving heart to someone when I’m hurt and reeling, especially when I’m the injured party, the time I spend on my knees crying out to God for wisdom on how to be loving and selfless while still protecting my personal boundaries is time well spent. Even if in the moment I see no result or acknowledgment of my effort, there is deep value in offering a response rooted in love.
Now not everyone comes back later, ready to shake hands and move forward. There are people I’m sure who will go to the grave holding onto whatever hurt or slight they feel I have offered them. No amount of my reasoning or compassion will ever change it. And that’s okay. We’re all on different journeys, responding as best we’re able while hiking an uphill path. But to the ones who do come back, and for the ones I’ve gone back to myself, what an incredible experience! The wonder and freedom that spring from those moments are indescribably beautiful, like a flower unfurling its petals to the life-giving warmth of the sun. They make your heart smile 🙂
For further thought: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God” – Matthew 5:9 (NIV). What situation do you need to come to a place of peace about? Begin praying to move in that direction.