Throughout SAUP we have been challenged with different topics from community to justice to reconciliation. I would say that my perspective and understanding of these topics has been broadened.
To me, reconciliation is one of those buzzwords that has been thrown around a lot, especially as a student of InterVarsity. I think many people, myself included, often times unintentionally use the word reconcile when they actually just mean forgiveness. The two are similar, but I think that reconciliation is forgiveness to the next level. Reconciliation includes a forgiveness of others AND a clean perspective of the scenario at hand. There are no grudges in true reconciliation.
To truly reconcile, we need to look at the three ways we are connected to this world. The first is personally. It is only in Christ that we can personally forgive ourselves of the hurt and pain that we have given and have received. There is so much hope in 2 Corinthians 5:16,17 because those in Christ are new creations! In Him we are freed from sin. In Him, we are freed from fear and our shortcomings. Christ says His love controls us and doesn't regard us according to the flesh.
From this, our personal reconciliation can overflow into our relationships. The same way we view ourselves in Christ is the way we should view others around us. They too are not just their flesh, they too have nothing to fear if they share their struggles with us and they too can have this love from Christ if they are willing. The way we view our relationships should change so that we hold nothing against anyone.
Finally, we need to reconcile ourselves to the systems of this world. Whether it is racism or poverty, we cannot simply stand on the sidelines and wait for someone to enter the battle. God wants us to be the ones spreading this message of reconciliation and the Gospel according to 2 Corinthians 5:18-21. So instead of just observing these injustices, God wants our hearts to hurt for the pain being experienced in unnecessary shootings, underpaid labor and broken families. Hopefully, this pain in our hearts would lead us to action. However, we must remember that we only act because we remember God's actions of love and God's reconciliation to us. Only then are our actions meaningful and we truly believe that His love and reconciliation are worth sharing.
University of Houston
When I first heard that we were going to talk about reconciliation, in my head, I was like "Oh, hmm, I don't really hold grudges and I don't think there are people that I need to reconcile with, so this week should be pretty peaceful, yay!" Little did I know, God had something else in store and told me not to be foolish.
Throughout the week, I had time to reflect about my past and I realized that I have actually experienced more hurt that I expected. After one session where we learned more about forgiveness, I asked God to reveal to me the people I needed to forgive in my life, and suddenly, all these feelings from the past kept coming to my mind. That was when I realized that deep down, I had never really extended forgiveness to them. I was puzzled. I thought I was over the pain and that I had moved on. I started digging deeper and deeper, trying to find the root and the reason for the hurt. Through prayer and advice from staff, I found the answer. All these years, I have been forgiving people out of my own will. I forgave them so I could feel better about myself. I forgave because I wanted to be free of the pain and hurt. But truthfully, I have just been shoving all of these feelings into a box and putting a temporary lock on the box. The pain and the hurt were still there. I was just avoiding it and had not experienced true healing.
I've learned that one can only forgive when we truly understand that God has forgiven us and empowers us to forgive others. We personally don't have the resources to forgive. Through God, we will find true healing for ourselves and are able to forgive others that have hurt us. After understanding this true narrative and truly letting God into my heart, I was able to slowly extend grace upon the people who have hurt me in the past. It took a lot of prayer and time to do so, but after I did it, I felt a huge sense of relief. My heart, my mind, and my soul were all at peace. That was the moment I started my reconciliation journey. I am currently still in the process of healing, but now that I've learned that God has given us all a message of reconciliation when He reconciled the world to Himself, I am able to confront myself and the people who have hurt me with the ability to forgive.
Texas A&M AAIV