My son is 22 years old today. The last time he talked to me was about a year ago, and then it was to tell me all about how lousy a father I am, I need to grow up, yadda-yadda-yadda. I got this in an email, so I replied and said the things I had forced myself not to say for the prior 21 years, about the truth regarding the marriage break-up with his mother, what I thought about how she had treated Bryce and Alexandra (his older sister, who stopped talking to me years ago because I didn’t give her money for school books- it’s a long story), and other things that I had intended to bring up at some point when he was mature enough to hear it. As it ended up, I figured that was my last chance to say anything, I told him those things, not to “get back” but in the hope that one day he might remember, understand and forgive so we could reconcile.
This is what God has done for us through His Prophets (not that I place myself in God’s position, just to use as an example). All the things I said to Bryce were meant to “wake him up”, to get his mind focused to see what he was doing to himself, and what had been done to him. Just as too often we are too late to realize that we have been fooled, or used by people, I wanted him to see things that he had blinded himself to. This is what God tried to do, what He did with the Prophets, and what Yeshua did. Yeshua, however, talked in parables, and I don’t know why that was necessary. Maybe because the Prophets were straight forward and that did no good; perhaps by talking in parables, the people (stupid as we are) would remember the story even if they didn’t first get the meaning, then eventually it would become clear to them as they retold the story, over and over.
I sent Bryce a birthday card, as I did his sister on her birthday in June. Inside I asked each of them if they are ready to reconcile. I miss them terribly, and I am still hurt and upset that their mother did so much to turn them against not just me, but their grandparents and aunts, too. Yet, I pray for her. In fact, I have taught myself to do that (see my Drash about forgiveness- it’s in here, somewhere) because I don’t know anyone more in need of the love of God than her. I also pray for Alex and Bryce, that they would be reconciled to God, and (I believe) once they are, the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) will turn their hearts to reconciling with me and Donna, their step-Mom.
Human relationships are, at the same time, wonderful and a pain in the you-know-where. We want to have people act the way we want them to, and they don’t. In fact, they shouldn’t- that’s what makes the relationship so wonderful. It’s the differences, as the saying goes, that makes the relationship fun. Of course, we need to be on the same page on the important things. Yeshua said the most important commandments were to love God and each other; not at the expense of all the other laws and regulations, but because doing that will make everything else fall into place. Same with human relationships- you can have opposites attract, but there needs to be a balance, and a common foundation, ethically, morally and spiritually. By loving God we learn forgiveness, and that will keep our relationships strong and rewarding.
Reconciliation is at the core of relationships, whether with God or each other. The main difference is that humans don’t always want to reconcile. I think in some ways they feel it diminishes them, sort of like “giving in” if they want to forgive and rebuild a relationship. How stupid! It takes strength and compassion, not weakness, to be able to reconcile. It takes deep devotion and God-like love to forgive. Those who don’t forgive or want to reconcile will end up alone, lonely and (probably) mad at the world for being so cruel, when all the world is doing is reflecting back what they are to themselves.
The Torah is supposed to be a mirror that we see ourselves in. When I look at Torah, I see a faint, cloudy image: I wouldn’t even see that if not for the Ruach that has helped me to be more like Torah than myself. The more I die to self, the more the reflection will clear up. The way to help that image become more and more clear is not just be willing to reconcile with people, but actively trying to.
That is the major difference between reconciling with people and reconciling with God- people aren’t always willing to reconcile, but God is always there for you. I believe even if that old imp, Ha Satan ,wanted to truly reconcile with God that God would be overjoyed at his return. Yeshua said that if a brother (or sister, for that matter) asks for forgiveness, we shouldn’t forgive 7 times, but 70 times 7 times. In other words, always.
Are you ready to reconcile? It doesn’t matter if the other person does or not- that is between them and God. As for you, try to reconcile. At Rosh HaShannah a tradition is to go to those you may have upset or sinned against and ask forgiveness, i.e. reconcile with them. It’s hard- it isn’t easy to open yourself to someone and lay your heart on your sleeve. But it has to be done. If it seems really hard, or you are thinking, “Right. You reconcile- the creeps in my life can go to blazes and I will not reconcile with them because they don’t deserve my forgiveness!” you should read Matthew, Chapter 6. Look at what Yeshua says right after He gives us the template for prayer. Reconciliation isn’t something that you have a choice about, and when you reconcile with God, it is between you and Him. Even when you reconcile with someone else, it is still about you and God. You have a win-win, even if the person doesn’t want to reconcile, because forgiveness is what God gives us and demands that we share with others. Read the parable about the Master who forgives his servant a large debt, but the servant doesn’t forgive a small debt. Scary stuff.
When you go to reconcile with someone, even if you fail because the other party refuses, you are right with God.
I would love it if I could reconcile with my children. I am willing to ask forgiveness, to open a new relationship, but still there are still rules. I am not saying that anything goes, whatever they say, Dad is wrong and will never try to teach them, or refute things with them, or get angry, or ever try to change them. They are too immature and too blind, after years of wrong conditioning, to really know what is best for them. I mean, really- I’m the Dad. Being a parent is not being a friend, and parents have an obligation to try to teach their children how to get along in the world and protect themselves from harm: spiritual, emotional and physical. They don’t have to listen, either. They do need to make their own mistakes. It’s a constant battle- parents try to teach the hard lessons they have learned, and children refuse to listen so they end up learning the lessons the same way their parents did- the hard way. Then they have children and the cycle starts, all over again. All I want to do is have them in my life, and to be in theirs. The Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best and My Three Sons innocence of the 60’s TV family life is not what anyone has or ever had. We all come from dysfunctional families. If you think about it, since we are, ourselves, a dysfunctional creature, it only makes sense when you put a bunch of us together that our relationship will be as we are…dysfunctional. I know that we will fight, will have differences of opinions, and will get on each other’s nerves. That’s how humans are, for Pete’s sake! That’s no reason to disown each other.
If you really want to have a right relationship with God, you need to have right relationships with people. You can’t love God and hate people (although I often feel like the less people in the world, the better…and I have a list of names to start with); if you really love Him, you have to obey Him (that’s what Yeshua said) and that brings us back to the two most important commandments.
Please!- reconcile yourself to reconcile with others; I guarantee your life will be so much better when you do.