A dictionary definition of reconciliation goes something like this: “the action of making one view or belief compatible with another.” Sounds impossible when there is so much polarization, doesn’t it?
If we believe that we cannot be reconciled to one another, it is more likely that we won’t be. Are we only relying on ourselves to make that happen? Have we left the Lord at work within us out of the equation or do we believe it means reaching a place where we all agree on everything (or even most things)? Our tendency toward “all or nothing” thinking might bring us to that spot.
All who desire discord and division (both human and spiritual) want us to be in that exact spot because it keeps us stuck.
Listen to a different and better definition of reconciliation:
“Simply stated, reconciliation means a restoration of harmony. Musical harmony is a great metaphor to describe reconciliation because it captures the essential idea of weaving together different notes into a pleasing, cohesive whole. Being in harmony with other people – especially people who are different from us – doesn’t mean we have to give up or compromise our values, our history, or our perspective. It simply means we find ways to blend our distinctive qualities into a unified vision, purpose, or remedy.” Trey Gowdy
I love that metaphor of harmony since it is evident in any beautiful, grand, powerful piece of music there will be unique harmonies that add to the dimension of the music. It exceeds the beauty of musical notes sung or played in unison.
What sort of orchestra is it if it is only made up of violins or even only strings? How disappointing not to hear the brass and wind instruments accented by the percussion.
In an orchestra those who are playing understand from the outset that each instrument adds to the value of the whole. Sometimes strings might be the focal point of a part of the music, but other times it may be the French horn, a flute, the tympani, or a harp. I have never heard members of an orchestra lamenting that one instrument or section may be featured one time and yet another section at another time.
No matter what group or groups we are a part of, I think this metaphor has merit for serious consideration. The orchestra presents a complete sound because of the way each instrument relates to all the others in harmony.
There is the key theme I have been writing about in recent posts…relationships.
Somehow it seems we have gotten lost “along the yellow brick road” and have distorted how we view relationships.
As I was reading in Unified by Tim Scott and Trey Gowdy, I was struck over and over again about this theme. They sit as members of the U.S. Congress where contention and discord has never been so great, but they are the best of friends and have discovered the way out of the chaos we find ourselves in if we dare follow their lead or wisdom:
“We believe the firmest foundation for positive change is found with individuals in relationship with one another. Laws are external. Relationships are internal. Policies make you have to. Relationships make you want to. Relationships contain the power necessary to change the course of history, and the delicate, personal touch needed to change the trajectory of a single life.”
If you have been reading my posts regularly, you have heard me share about the gift my parents gave me from the outset of my life of teaching and training me to look at the individual versus the category or group. That caused me to want to know the story of the person and learn from that story.
Because of that even before adulthood, I started to develop a portfolio of experience that would serve me throughout adulthood. It gave me a different framework when I looked at my class of junior high special education students. It also helped me look beyond the diagnosis or the symptoms of the person I was working with as a clinical counselor and to focus instead on the story that person had to tell. It allowed me to grow over a lifetime of varied church connections with different styles of worship and service formats.
It also resulted in developing a growing sense of awe at how good and beyond comprehension God is in his creation and design. It helped me to recognize his genius in designing a tapestry that forces all of us to rely on Him to see, sense, and long for the harmony of reconciliation.
My life is richer as a result.
My last position before retirement was on our church staff. I was in the minority and aware all the others had many potential reasons to be unsure of how I would fit in the mix. My background, culture, ethnicity, and experiences were all different than theirs. It was so good for me to see each one of them as an individual and get to know his or her story. I didn’t want to know the story because it was different or because I was curious, but rather because I was interested in the person and how the Lord had moved in whatever they had faced in life.
One of those persons was a woman near my age. She was an introvert while I was an extrovert. She had lived her entire in the city while I had lived in the country. She had lived with prejudice only because too many people first looked at her as being a part of a group while I did not know that kind of prejudice and yet knew what it felt like to be different. Her educational experience was different than mine and she had often not been acknowledged for her capabilities while I was respected for mine because I had credentials, whether or not I had the knowledge they represented.
We did, however, become the closest of friends until death came far too early and separated us in 2006. She and I had more in common than things that were different…more things than I can list. We enjoyed the deepest communion in our times of prayer together and sharing our journal entries beyond any friend in my lifetime. We grappled honestly and transparently about our battles with a sense of inadequacy. We shared stories of our childhood, disappointments, things we missed and had wanted to do.
She had played the violin and I had played the piano and sax. She loved music, but had never had the opportunity to go to hear an orchestra in concert until I surprised her with that gift for a birthday. I will never forget what she told me as she got in my car to go to the concert, “Thank you for such a great time and the chance to experience such beautiful music just in case I ever forget to tell you.”
Few people understood the bond we shared. Some were jealous of it, but she and I knew the richness and depth of it. It was one of those covenantal relationships that weather storms and tests along the way. On one of her difficult days, I tore a dollar bill in half and gave it to her to remind her that so long as I was alive she could always count on me. She carried one half in her wallet till she died and I still have the other half.
On a special birthday she gave me a figurine that captured the spirit of our relationship. The photo at the bottom is of that figurine.
How much I would have missed if I had only seen her as part of a group.
Every person’s story has value.
It’s an individual story no matter how many groups or categories he or she may be a part of.
20 thoughts on “What Does Reconciliation Look Like?”
What a great story you have allowed us to share a glimpse of! Thanks so much for blessing us.