BY: CRYSTAL CHARLEY
Relationships can be messy. Reconciling them can be even messier. I am not speaking only of relationships between a girl and a guy. I speak of all forms of relationships - friendships, co-workers, family, etc. But why? Why do they require so much of us? Why can’t we have the perfect family, friendship, or love story, where both parties say and act actually like we want them to. What about those great romantic movies that give us goosebumps with the guy saying all the right things, and the girl who falls head over heels for the guy. Where is the reality of that in our lives?
Honestly, I am not a sucker for romance movies; actually, I almost despise them. All of them seem to have the typical helpless love plot with a happily ever after ending. However, I must admit, I’ve had my share of watching them and shedding a tear or two. Surprisingly, there is one romantic comedy that happens to be a favorite, particularly because the ending is not the typical happily ever after we usually see.
“The Break Up”, starring Jennifer Aniston as ‘Brooke’ and Vince Vaughn as ‘Gary’, begins like any other love story: they met each other at a baseball game and fall in love. However, as time passed, the unappreciated and neglected girlfriend, Brooke, ends their relationship in hopes that Gary will miss her. Neither are willing to leave the condo they shared, so they become hostile roommates. The rest of the movie shows the sneaky schemes each roommate uses to get the other to cave in.
Gary, on the other hand, misunderstands her true intention (as if men can read minds), both follow the wrong advice of family members and friends, beginning a war of the sexes; ultimately, no one really wins. In the end, after a friend told Gary the truth about his self-centeredness throughout their friendship, Gary finally comes to the revelation that everything he has done in all of his relationships and friendships were centered on what he wanted. This exposed truth leads him to Brooke to admit his selfishness and brokenness in their relationship. He desired her forgiveness and for their relationship to be restored.
Surprisingly, his honesty and desire to have her back did not result in them coming back together as a couple – to live happily ever after, as inmost romantic films. That’s right! The girl does not get the guy she fought to love back, and the guy does not get the girl that he finally opened up to back.
Instead, they went their separate ways. At the very end of the movie, however, they cross paths and exchange friendly conversation as if nothing happened in the past.
Why did I love this story so much, besides enjoying a non-traditional ending? The core of it comes from the reconciliation process they experienced.
What is reconciliation? Most dictionaries define reconciliation as the restoration of friendly relations or the action of making one view or belief compatible with another. However, the root of the word, conciliation, means the action of stopping someone from being angry. In other words, reconciliation means we restore our relationship with someone, which allows us to be in friendly fellowship with one another again.
Now, biblically, the word reconciliation is commonly translated as the English word atonement. Atonement simply means a condition without tension. That’s why, when Christ died on the cross, he removed the tension between us and God (2 Corinthians 5:16-21). Our need for reconciliation with God means there was once hostility between us that only Christ could restore. How did Christ restore us? He gave himself. This is seen in 2 Corinthians 5:18a, which states, “ …who through Christ reconciled us to himself…”
Think, isn’t it amazing that out of all the ways God could have reconciled the world, he chose to give himself. Laying down his life for an enemy, so he may call them friends (Romans 5:10; John 15:15). So, we can live in friendly fellowship with God again. That’s purely unselfish, right? Then He goes so far as to give us purpose and something to do – the ministry of reconciliation -- to give others the message to be restored to the Father by his Son, who does not count your sins against you (2 Corinthians 5:19). Ultimately, we carry the message of peace despite the cause of the hostility between us. So, we have in our hand the ministry of reconciliation as a representative delivering Christ’s terms of peace. However, how does the call to be reconciled to God direct us to reconcile with others?
Before we bring ourselves before the altar (Matthew 5:21-25), let’s look at God’s priority for us to first be reconciled to one another, quickly, if we have unresolved disagreements. By no means will we have to agree with one another for conflict to be resolved. But, certainly, God beckons us to submit to his call of restoring relationships that allows us to be in friendly fellowship with one another again. Maybe that means you admitting to being wrong or misunderstanding what was said. Or maybe there is no wrong to admit, but you can tell the person that you respect and love them and care about the relationship over being right. We can all examine our own heart to make an effort to live in harmony.
When it comes to building or rebuilding relationships, we may be our own stumbling block. We have various types of selfish intentions, unforgiveness, baggage, and even religious preferences that we throw on people -- Jesus even taught that restoring relationships are more important than religious practices in Matthew 12:1-8.
So, what does this mean for Gary and Brooke? The hostility they faced in their relationship all came from their own selfish motives – Brooke wanting to manipulate Gary to miss her and change, and Gary wanting the satisfaction of proving he didn’t need Brooke and that he was perfect. But, ultimately, it did not get them anywhere except on a broken emotional cycle. The breakthrough came when Gary finally was honest with himself that he was selfish and everything really was centered around him. After this revelation, he went to her and confessed wholeheartedly. Gary took his eyes off himself and cared about the relationship at hand. His desire was to get back together again; however, they did not. And that’s okay. Reconciliation still happened. Though they did not end up back in a dating relationship, they made an effort to restore the once hostile friendship to a state of peace and friendly fellowship.
We may not always go back to the original state of a relationship, but we can have joy and peace knowing we have made every effort to value relationships as God values his relationship with you over every law or rule you and I have broken. Christ’s finished reconciled work on the cross allows us to cross paths with God, similar to how Gary and Brooke crossed paths, exchanging friendly conversation as if nothing had ever happened in the past.
This article is not encouraging anyone to stay in a relationship or friendship that is abusive in any nature. This is not even to get you to run back to your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend in hopes of rekindling a dating relationship. This article is simply encouraging you to demonstrate to a broken world the ministry of reconciliation. We do not reconcile out of obligation (God did not). Ultimately, what should drive us to reconcile with others is love and humility.
I write with conviction knowing I have not always practiced or cherished this truth of being reconciled with others nor had the desire to do so. So, I am crippled and challenged in this area. Yet, I hope in Him who went to the ends of the earth to reconcile us, and I am hopeful in God’s hand on our lives to reconcile our friendships and relationships with one another. God’s reconciling work is finished. Yet, from the finished work on the cross He is still reconciling us to himself and to others. I pray God’s strength and love would compel us to make every effort to live in harmony with one another, even in the midst of a break up.