Christians may experience conflicts that offer no opportunity to reconcile with their offender. In these situations, reconciliation and closure are out of reach and the focus must be placed upon healing emotional wounds.
We need to take the time to educate ourselves of scriptures concerning peace and forgiveness and educate themselves on the process of forgiveness. As I have worked with people through bible study and tears (as well as my own personal wounds), I have discovered that forgiveness is not a one-time choice to be made–it is a process of letting go. I’ve known people who have held onto a pain for so long that removing the pain itself would be painful as well as cathartic. Developing the desire to forgive itself is a process.
Forgiveness is a matter every person is acquainted with because conflict is and always will be ubiquitous. Gossip, insults, breaking trust–they may not make the news, but that does not make them less real. Within the body of Christ, sinners are sinners no longer and paradoxically they are still very much sinners. Forgiven people are not perfect people, so they will still make mistakes. Not to mention, mistakes are unnecessary to create conflict. When conflict develops in the church every member is called to the duty of being a peacemaker by ‘making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace’ (Eph. 4:3). Fulfilling this call leaves no Christian on the sidelines. As all Christians are members of the one body all conflicts should concern all members. Establishing this understanding in our congregations is vital and will be the way we prevent divisions and be “united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10).
Forgiveness is often hindered by excuses people give ourselves, perhaps in an effort to console themselves–to lessen the guilt of bearing grudges. As those excuses continue and the grudge consists the wounds fester and people drink their own poison. People say, “Forgive but don’t forget,” so they can hold onto that grudge, which is not forgiveness at all. People say the offender does not deserve to be forgiven, when nobody deserves to be forgiven—Forgiveness is never based upon the merit of the sinner. Forgiveness is only given to the undeserving. People argue, “But what they did was not okay.” That is true, but if what they did was okay, they would not need to be forgiven. People say, “But it still hurts” and forgiveness is the path to healing.
[Eph 4:1-3 ESV] 1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.