Forgiveness & Reconciliation: Will I Know It When I See It?

Tiger & Elin. Jon & Kate. Deadly Viper & some angry Asian Americans.

What does reconciliation look like? What’s the difference between “moving on” in a healthy way and exercising the privilege to walk away from difficult conversations?

All the buzz about Tiger’s return to golf  and Kate’s debut on the dance floor caught my attention not because I care about golf or hair extensions but because their choice to “move on” from their respective scandals has got me thinking about forgiveness and reconciliation. Yes, their lives were a circus before the scandals, a teeny bit different than mine. Peter is not a pro golfer, and I am not a model. Peter does not own anything Ed Hardy, and I don’t get followed by the paparazzi. They are celebrities, but they and we are human beings. Why wouldn’t they want to move on, heal, and, perhaps, forget? I would.

But is that reconciliation? Would it be enough to see Elin stand by her man at the Masters? (IMHO, no. It would not.) If not, what is enough? Can someone ever apologize enough? Ask for forgiveness enough? Be forgiven enough? And then is that reconciliation?

So the saga known as Deadly Viper isn’t exactly like Tiger and Elin and Jon and Kate, but when I think about forgiveness and reconciliation I can’t help but think about DV. There was a lot of ugliness and some hope. There were hurt feelings and misunderstandings. There were conversations and side conversations about actions versus intent versus past deeds done. There were divisions, sides taken, and allegiances. And it was in real time, on-line and public in a “you can’t take that back ever” sort of way. Relationships that started out broken between real people fractured in such a way that made me (and I speak for myself and no one else involved in the DV saga) wonder if we achieved the right end. I’m still wondering…

If, for argument sake, reconciliation for the two celebrity couples means restoring their marriages, what does reconciliation for those involved in DV look like? Is reconciliation necessary? Is it worth it? Who pursues it and how?


  1. girlgeum March 18, 2010

    If we forgive someone but don’t forget, then have we truly forgiven them? Or do we forgive so far, by that I mean up to a point, but not totally? And if we forgive, but don’t trust, then was it forgiveness? Or are trust and forgiveness not intertwined?

    I know only God forgives and forgets, and only he loves unconditionally.

  2. Josh March 18, 2010

    In order for reconciliation to occur, things cannot return to the prior “normal state” because that is in part where DV sprouted from. I think there must not only be a healing of the parties that have been injured but also a concerted effort to move forward and learn from the errors of the whole DV fiasco.

    • Kathy Khang March 19, 2010

      Josh, I agree. Going back to the way things were would be rather disappointing, to say the least. Can I ask you a clarifying question? What does a concerted effort to move forward look like? And what were the errors from the DV saga?

  3. J March 18, 2010

    good question… i like to think that my ex and i are reconciled, but just because we can talk to each other civilly and i can even eat dinner with her, her family and my new girlfriend it still feels far short of being truly reconciled. in a broken world like this, i wonder if reconciliation amounts to mutual respect and forgiveness, and then everything else is a plus. certainly it’s not possible in all cases, as it takes 2 to reconcile, so it seems hard to say it’s necessary in all circumstances. perhaps it’s more of an ideal that we should strive for… and i think that God’s healing is always worth it d=

    • Kathy Khang March 19, 2010

      Thank you for your honesty and transparency…imagining you having dinner with your ex, her family and your new girlfriend leaves me hopeful. Real-life often falls short of the ideal, but I suspect that is what it means to live in the tension of heaven and earth.

      If I may probe, what have you learned (and how have you learned it) about moving from a broken relationship to mutual respect and forgiveness? Do you think the mutuality is the key or just another ideal?

      • J March 19, 2010

        good question… d= I think I’d have to say that mutuality is key to reconciliation and that it’s an ideal that God desires for us, but not the key to healing from a broken relationship. Before any spoken forgiveness and communication occurred, which was long after we had gone our separate ways, I remember having to learn what it meant to forgive and apologize even if I never actually talked to her again. In addition to that, one of the most important things to come to terms with the fact that she was in God’s hands and not my own. I think accepting the reality of the situation and acknowledging God’s sovereignty over and His love for both of us independently, along with forgiving and confessing my own contributions were the keys to me moving forward from the broken relationship. I think the events that happened later were what moved us towards reconciliation. I hope that answers the question… d=

  4. daniel March 19, 2010

    I think human reconciliation is a trajectory that someone is moving in, rather than a single act that checks off the accomplished box. When human reconciliation is needed, I picture two sides separated by a mountain. Human reconciliation doesn’t mean ignoring the mountain’s existence or magically making the mountain disappear (only divine reconciliation has the power and resources to do that). I equate human reconciliation as clearing trails and building roads across the mountain (there can be multiple routes). This takes effort and energy and is costly, but it reduces the mountains identity and power as an obstacle. Common ground can be initially found on the mountain and develop into common ground on both sides of the divide.

    Ideally mountain traversing is a mutual effort from both sides; each side will know their side of the mountain better. However, more often than not one side is going to have the honor of intentionally sustaining the effort and creating the space for the other side to join the effort. Once the paths are cleared, the paths need to be maintained (sometimes means frequently traveled and updated). Both sides have the power to be a part of the reconciliation process and both sides have the ability to impede or even destroy the process. When the mountain is traversed, the history is still there for travelers of both sides to see and understand, but what was once a symbol of hurt, miscommunication, and separation has now become a perspective from which both sides can gain a deeper understanding of themselves and each other.

  5. .elise.anne. March 23, 2010

    I think forgiveness and reconciliation are different things…different levels, I guess. (side note: I dont think that “forgetting” means forgetting…I think it means working to treat the offender as if they did not offend you…not holding it against them.)

    Forgiveness can happen without reconciliation. I agree with Josh that reconciliation requires all/both parties and requires change. The offender has to be willing to change, to realize the effects of her actions and genuinely mourn for them. Then she needs to love the other more than herself enough to want to change her life…for the sake of the offended but also realizing that it hurts herself too. Then the offended must forgive and desire a continued relationship…

    my rambling thoughts from experience. It is hard to put into short words a part of my life that i just did/felt, without entirely understanding while it was happening!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *