My Throwback Thursday picture is of me and one of my hometown friends, Mary Jo, in the Smokey Mountains. Even though we were not close during our high school years, we became good buddies after we both married and moved to the same small town. She was always so much fun! Eventually, she moved away and we lost contact for many years. Mary Jo passed away earlier this year after a long illness. I am thankful for the friendship we enjoyed during that season of our lives.
When I began speaking on the topic of reconciliation, women would often come up to me afterward and share their stories with me. It reminded me that everyone deals with fractured relationships at some point. This topic unearths so many memories of mishandled moments and emotions over estrangements that haunt us in the worst of ways.
There was one woman’s story that really stood out to me; I will call her Kari. Kari had had a best friend named Kim (not her real name either). At some point the two got into a long-standing disagreement which severed their friendship. Even when Kim was diagnosed with cancer, it did not draw the two long lost friends back together. Despite Kim’s deteriorating health, no one expected her to die when she did.
If there were any hopes of a future reconciliation, Kari was now faced with the painful realization that she had waited until it was too late to make amends with her former best friend. She debated on whether or not she should attend Kim’s funeral, but eventually decided that it was the right thing to do. This must have been hard for her since both Kim’s family and their mutual friends would be there, and well aware of their unreconciled relationship at the time of Kim’s death.
No matter how negative the circumstance, we can never go wrong by taking the high road. Even when it is difficult and people may not respond well to our efforts, I think it is still the best decision. It is best to err on the side of doing what’s right than to err on the side of not doing the right thing and being criticized, and rightly so! When we do the right thing most people will recognize it and may even defend us to our critics.
At the funeral home, Kari was surprised by the reception she received from Kim’s family and friends. Kim’s family hugged on her and stated how glad they were that she came. Her friends welcomed her with open arms, as well. Their love and kindness were so appreciated by Kari. Still, there was great sadness and guilt.
As Kari shared her story with me it was obvious that she was still grieving under the guilt of never repairing her relationship with Kim. The enemy loves nothing more than taking our mistakes and offenses and holding them over our head.
It’s easy to think in circumstances like these that all reconciliation hope is lost, but it is not lost. That night I challenged Kari to focus on the warm reception of Kim’s friends and family because that was a true reconciliation moment. I believe Kim’s friends and family acted on her deceased friend’s behalf.
I wanted to help Kari realize that since Kim was a Christian, and now in Heaven, she had been perfected (2 Corinthians 5:1), which means that she no longer harbors any ill-will toward Kari. Believe me when I say that there is no one in Heaven fretting over this life’s unfinished business. Any issue she had with Kari on this earth were now resolved in Heaven. I am confident that all of Kim’s feelings toward Kari are now nothing but of agape love.
Do you have someone in Heaven with whom you had unresolved issues?
It is important that you look at your unresolved issue with a deceased friend or family member in two ways:
- A person in eternity is now only concerned with those things pertaining to God, and nothing else – not your last spat, not any memories of wrongdoings or grudges between the two of you. Those in Heaven have no wants – no wishing you had made up with them or thinking you should have apologized. They are now completely whole in every sense that we cannot even possibly fathom.
- You can do something to help relieve your sense of guilt whether it be as simple as hashing it out with God, or making restitution or attempting reconciliation with that person’s family or friends. I don’t know what that might look like for you, but I pray God will give you guidance on how to move out from underneath this weight of guilt and pain. By Kari attending Kim’s funeral, it yielded a reunion with Kim’s family and friends, leaving the enemy little to work with. After I challenged her to really realize what God had done in that moment, she felt great relief.
Know this – when you are an eternal being (regenerated by salvation through Jesus Christ) that changes everything!
Don’t think for a minute that you cannot have closure over such circumstances. Thankfully, our drama is contained on this side of Heaven! The simple truth is that reconciliation hope is not bound by time or life span. One day Kim will meet Kari in Heaven again, and it will be like the rift never happened because all is reconciled, restored and resolved in eternity. Amen.
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Award-winning author Gina Duke is a wife, mother and Director of Women’s Ministry at her local church. Gina is also a speaker with a B.S. in Organizational Leadership. She is able to bring a clear word for authentic Christian living. Through her book, “Organizing Your Prayer Closet: A New and Life-Changing Way to Pray” (Abingdon Press), she imparts 1 Peter 4:7 with the gift of structured prayer journaling. Gina also blogs and offers numerous videos and resources at GinaDuke.com. You may also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @TheGinaDuke.
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