I have people in my past who I’ve wronged, people I can’t seem to forget, people I once loved. And for years now I’ve been holding onto the burdens of those failed relationships—reliving my mistakes, allowing theirs to fester in the dark places in my heart. And while I’ve tried to move on, I haven’t. In fact, in some cases, I’ve allowed those dissonant chords to twist me into a guilty, angry, envious person.
But about a year ago I determined that I would not be that person. The solution? Reconciliation.
I determined to contact every person in my past with whom I’ve had a rocky relationship, every person I’ve done wrong and every person who’s hurt me. And while I’m not completely done, I’ve begun those conversations.
I have two things to say about the process:
1. Reconciliation is hard.
It requires me to say awkward things, to understand when another person can’t even remember the moment that’s haunted me, to bear with my friends who aren’t ready to lay everything on the table.
I sent one email to a person who hardly even remembered me. I sent another to a friend who ignored it, sending me a happy, carefree message a few days later, never referring to my pain or sharing her own.
All of this required more of me than I was initially willing to give: humility, patience, love, and the willingness to bear confrontation—to initiate it even. I hate conflict. HATE it. And yet I found myself causing it—on purpose. I’ve been lighting fires all year, but the fires have been refining, purifying, so good.
2. Reconciliation is liberating.
I feel free. I have no regrets, no people to avoid at weddings, no bad thoughts about anybody. And soooo many fewer about myself.
I used to think about high school a lot, about what a jerk I was, about how judgmental and prideful I’d been, about how little I gave to my friends. But, after both a blog post apology and several facebook messages, I’ve realized that everybody grows up after high school. And while I needed to apologize, I also needed to move on.
That’s what reconciliation provides, a chance to move on—sometimes hand in hand with a friend you thought you’d lost and sometimes on your own. Either way, you’re walking away from the hurt and freeing yourself from its spell.