Tuesday, September 20, 2005
(Hi, it's Kari again!)
In the past few days, I've had a couple of different reasons to go back and look at some of my old writing, mostly old journals. I was looking for insight about a particular situation, one that has gotten surprisingly complicated in the past week. It's interesting to see how, even though I am still dealing with many of the same things that I have been dealing with for years, my responses are markedly different. I'm glad to report that I'm not nearly as passionate about things as I was four to six years ago (read: I use fewer exclamation marks), that I'm more patient and less impetuous. I don't panic quite as much as I used to. The flip side of this, I suppose, is that I'm less sure about things than I was, less sure about what my responses should be, less confident that I know how my friends and acquaintances will react to me. I have always been someone who tried to make amends as quickly as possible, and while I would still say that I am usually quick to recognize my own mistakes in relationships and apologize for them, Mike pointed out that I seem to have learned that reconciliation is one of those things that can't be rushed or forced.
Reconciliation is a weighty topic, one that has meant different things at different times in my life. In high school, my church talked about racial reconciliation and I thought a lot about my own prejudices and tried to make changes. In college, my IV chapter took up the subject, which I found frustrating at times, because it seemed that the leaders were assuming I had never thought the issue through before. As I was getting married, reconciliation meant, "What do we do to get Mike's parents to like me and agree to come to our wedding?" By that definition, we remain unreconciled to this day. Since then, the definition has moved to a realization that even if all the parties involved are Christians (or believe themselves to be), being reconciled doesn't mean that we have to be friends. In fact, in some cases, I think reconciliation means admitting that you just can't be friends. That doesn't mean you don't give it a strong effort, or that you are allowed to trash people behind their backs, but understanding that there are times when it's best for both parties to let things be.
I say that as if I woke up one morning and found these things to be easy, but that's not the case at all. I desperately want people to like me. I desperately want to be understood. And so learning about reconciliation has also meant learning that people won't always like me and won't always understand what I am thinking or feeling. In a way, I've had to become reconciled to myself, to accept that I am the way that I am, and while I am (hopefully) learning and growing and changing, some people aren't going to respond like I had hoped. But that I am still okay the way I am.
It makes me wonder what the next lesson about reconciliation will be. I would give a lot to be able to believe again that it's easy for Christians to be reconciled, that God can help them see each other's points of view, that their rough edges and sensitive hearts don't have to mean that they can't be friends. Maybe I will be able to believe that again, that miracles like that do occasionally happen. Maybe I'll get to a place where I won't worry as much about my own feelings, but instead focus on the feelings of others. Maybe I'll be less self-conscious, which would make it easier for me not to get as defensive as I do. More likely, it'll be something I can't even comprehend at this point, something I never even considered before.
I'm a pretty cynical person when it comes to a lot of this stuff. It's hard for me to speculate and be hopeful. But I am going to try to hope. To believe in reconciliation, even when it seems impossibly naive. To keep learning how to be comfortable in my own skin. And to trust that hope does not disappoint us, even when reconciliation seems a long way away.