Heart Hole

d01c0070.JPG   Have you ever had a hole in your heart from a broken relationship?  A friend who snubbed you?  A spouse who deserted you?  A child, parent, or sibling who walked out of your life – methaphorically or literally?  If you’re breathing, chances are you know exactly what kind of heart-hole I’m talking about: a broken heart from a broken relationship.

We’ve already talked about conflicts, some “Dos and Don’ts” of conflict resolution, and forgiveness.  However, many Christians err in equating forgiveness* with reconciliation and restoration.  They use the terms/concepts synonymously.  Interchangeably.  They’re not.  Ideally, forgiveness results in reconciliation and a restored relationship.  But not always.  Forgiveness is the first step in a process; it’s not the whole tamale.   Let’s look at the differences between these inter-related and often confused concepts and how they work.

Forgive has many meanings:

  • to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.
  • the giving up of resentment or claim to requital for an offense.
  • to grant pardon to (a person).
  • to cancel an indebtedness or liability of: to forgive the interest owed on a loan.

To forgive means we give up the right to punish the person who hurt or wronged us. We lay down our arms.  We choose to stop the hate.  But this is not the same as the next step in the restorative process — and it is a process.  Forgiveness may–and hopefully will–result in a restored relationship between “warring parties,” but there are no guarantees.   That’s one reason I found Dr. Smedes’ perspective so Refreshingly Real (see October 17 post).  Did you?

To restore means:

  • to give back (something taken away, lost)
  • to make restitution
  • to bring back to a former or normal condition, as by repairing, rebuilding
  • to bring back to health, strength
  • to reestablish something which has passed away

Reconcile means:

  • to make friendly again or win over to a friendly attitude
  • to settle a quarrel, or compose a difference
  • to make (arguments, ideas, texts, etc.) consistent, compatible; to bring into harmony

While forgiveness is always possible, sometimes reconciliation and restoration–harmony–aren’t.  We touched on this in Five Things About Forgiveness (October 17).  We’ll continue this thread next time.  (For a full discussion, get Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace? and Smedes’ The Art of Forgiving.)

“Forgiving does not usually happen at once. It is a process, sometimes a long one, especially when it comes to wounds gouged deep. And we must expect some lapses…some people seem to manage to finish off forgiving in one swoop of the heart. But when they do, you can bet they are forgiving flesh wounds. Deeper cuts take more time and can use a second coat.”

Lewis B. Smedes – The Art of Forgiving: When You Need To Forgive And Don’t Know How


* See Matt. 6:14, 15; 15:18-35; Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4, 17:3,4; Col. 3:13; Eph.4:31,32, etc.

See you next time at The 2 Rs, followed by Giving and Receiving and Bless You. 

Laus Deo.


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