Catholic Free Press
After I came home to the Church, I was so joyful that I actually made a serious error in judgement. Selfishly, I expected my joy to be not only understood and appreciated by everyone in my life, but also shared. I expected the people who I hurt with my past sins to suddenly, on knowing how happy I was, forgive and forget all about any pain I had caused them. Oh, look, she’s changed. Let us all rejoice! That ridiculous assumption instead damaged my closest relationships even more. It did not instill trust, it demonstrated that I was still self-absorbed. So I offer this as advice to catechumens, or anyone undergoing a conversion of heart.
St. Paul told the Christians at Corinth that when we are reconciled to God through Christ, we become a new creature. Our old life disappears and everything about us becomes new. (2 Corinthians 5:17) That is true, but the new creature still lives with an old past, and healing relationships may be part of a penance that follows conversion. Do not be afraid to look anyone you have hurt in the eyes and say, “I know I hurt you, and I am willing to do whatever you need me to do to help you heal those wounds. I love you, and I am sorry.” It may seem easier to deny that you ever hurt anyone and go on with a happy new life, but do not fall into that trap — for it is a lie of Satan. To refuse to address damaged relationships is to commit another sin of pride and close off the love of Christ that could otherwise flow through you.
Instead, be confident that grace is sufficient for you to grow in the virtues necessary to face difficult challenges. With sincerity and humility, you can become determined, patient, prudent, generous, and wise. Sometimes the people we hurt need time, years or decades, sometimes they need space, sometimes they need to be allowed to say what they never before dared to say, and be heard. Sometimes they need to also be forgiven, and loved even if they inflict pain in return. You very well may suffer, but Christ establishes in our hearts his message of reconciliation, and if we prayerfully let it, in God’s Trinitarian way, I believe the most broken relationships can be reunited. I see it happening in my own life, slowly every day. The new creature I have become is someone my loved ones can depend on.
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