Tag Archives: #speakyourtruth

A Pathway to Reconciliation

 

This past November I wrote the most difficult and intricate post I have ever written on my blog or elsewhere on the topic of racial reconciliation titled, “The Imperative & Paradox of Racial Reconciliation”. In getting to the finished post, I crafted various versions that in hindsight acted as my processing tools. I had originally intended on making the framework I created be the centerpiece of my finished product but God had other plans!

Outside of my continued work on racial reconciliation in the Be the Bridge groups at my church, I am grappling with reconciliation on a personal level and it is proving to be daunting. I am talking just about the hopeful restoration of broken familial bonds, not anything to do with race or gender, just plain old reconciliation. And I feel like a blind woman trying to walk in the desert at night. How do I begin to rebuild trust, restore wholeness in love, respond with empathy and respect, nurse my wounds without anger and stem the pangs of perceived betrayal? This much I do know— I need a generous endowment of The Holy Spirit to transform my heart so I can be an honest participant in any reconciliation process. I cannot do this type of heart-centered work purely by my own efforting or willing it to be so.

In trying to make a way for myself, I figured it might be helpful to dig up my earlier drafts on a reconciliation framework to give me some type of guide as I navigate the uncomfortable and often painful journey towards reconciliation within my family.

The Cycle of Reconciliation

In my research on this topic and personal experience, I’ve observed three key stages that define the reconciliation process. For want of a more creative descriptor, I’m calling it The Reconciliation Cycle.  It’s a cycle because these stages are by no means linear. For a concept as complex, personal and significant as reconciliation, it is best to think of these stages as flows rather than steps, with the understanding that a person can flow back and forth and in and out of each stage or stages at different times.

  1. Confession—Professing/Acknowledging out loud to another and/or to ourselves/God where you have wronged, hurt or harmed another by word, action or deed.
  2. Repentance—Feeling sorrow and regret for the wrongs and hurt you may have inflicted on another, knowingly or unknowingly. Having a true desire to atone for wrongs and to make amends with another. Repentance often requires a heart change.
  3. Forgiveness—Forgiving the other party for the wrongs you believe you suffered at their hand. And forgiving yourself, bringing your hurts and wounds to the throne of God’s grace. Extending forgiveness is the only way to start a constructive, heart-centered dialog which is essential for reconciliation.

These three stages may occur back and forth as The Reconciliation Cycle is in process, the scales removed from our eyes and more grievances or injustices are uncovered.

Attributes/Attitudes Required

Reconciliation requires that each party in the process arm themselves with attitudes and attributes that promote reconciliation. These attitudes are critical as the parties move from hurt to healed, and go through the three stages of Compassion, Repentance and Forgiveness during The Reconciliation Cycle.

  1. Humility—Confession, repentance and forgiveness require a humble heart. Both parties need to get their egos and pride out of the way for reconciliation to move forward.
  2. Readiness—If one party is ready to reconcile but the other is not, there cannot be reconciliation. Reconciliation requires a certain level of readiness from each party.
  3. Understanding—A part of the reconciliation process involves a shift in perspective where each party is better able to put themselves in the others’ shoes. This is the only way for healing to really occur. Each party must be able to understand their role in breaking the bond of relationship and desire to move forward differently.
  4. Compassion—Compassion and understanding go hand in hand. Having empathy for the other party promotes forgiveness.
  5. Patience—Reconciliation takes time. The deeper the chasm the longer the journey. Each party has to exercise patience during the reconciliation process.
  6. Trust—Reconciliation cannot emerge without trust. Trust is needed in one self to share ones truth to another. And trust is needed in the other party’s willingness and ability to hear and receive this truth. It requires each party to believe in the best about the other as they work through their differences.
  7. Commitment—Reconciliation is not a linear progression. It is much more complicated than that and each party may be at different stages of The Reconciliation Cycle at any given time. It is uncomfortable, painful and extremely vulnerable doing this tough work. So both parties must be committed to reconciliation.

I think this is why Paul exhorted believers in the early churches throughout the New Testament to “clothe (them)selves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12) and to “be humble and gentle in every way. Be patient with each other and lovingly accept each other” (Ephesians 4:2). Paul knew what they were up against, and knew they would need to be intentional about loving on one another in the midst of challenges.

The Role Emotions Play in The Reconciliation Cycle

Consider the challenge required in crossing over each of these three stages of reconciliation with just one other person as you journey to reconciliation. It is a process. It is complicated. Emotions rise to the surface easily– tough emotions like shame, guilt, anger, hurt and fear which we are often ill-equipped to express in healthy ways. These emotions too, are part of The Reconciliation Cycle. These feelings need to be discharged in constructive ways. And feeling these emotions can cause old wounds to be opened anew.

In spite of how overwhelmed I feel about trying to restore key broken relationships in my family, I remain hopeful that God will equip me to do what he has called me to do: to be an ambassador of reconciliation.  This is true not just among the disparate factions in my church and this country as a whole, but as up close and personal as my own family.

As challenging as I believe racial reconciliation to be as evidenced by my thoughts on it in my previous post, I think the restoration of familial bonds may actually be more difficult as it is fraught with such deeply personal experiences and history. Nevertheless, I press on, in hope, trusting in the love of God to heal all wounds.

“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, could be accomplished alone; therefore, we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our own standpoint; therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.” Reinhold Niebuhr, ‘The Irony of American History’


Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, insight coach, and marketing & branding consultant. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. Read more of her inspirational posts on her website. Email her at Elanimage07@gmail.com.

 

 

Legacy: How Effectively are you Stewarding your Gifts and Talents?

 

Being a market researcher for over 15 years helped me develop my curiosity. When you are looking at reams and reams of data, trying to tell a story and arrive at strategic conclusions you can share with your corporate client, you can bet that curiosity becomes a very familiar friend. You learn to slice and dice data in myriad ways to discover trends, to sniff out clues, to develop hypotheses that make sense given the research objectives at hand. Not everyone has this gift. But I did. I loved the storytelling that market research allowed me to indulge in. I got to tap into my creative side when I had to craft compelling and PR worthy headlines to bring the stories from the data to life.

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” Seth Godin

It is this same curiosity, creativity and craft I bring to bear when I refine and re-write my own evolving life story. I can see the highs and lows of my life as data points based on all the primary and secondary research that is my life. With my analytical mind, I connect the patterns in the data and see how the different stories weave in and out of each other, sometimes shaping an even more powerful narrative, from which I derive a new meaning.

These tendencies have made me a truth seeker. I am constantly re-framing and re-purposing information to figure out who, what, why and how, behind all the data I process in any given time period. Which brings me to the purpose of this particular post: lately I have been very preoccupied with legacy.  It’s the proverbial, “why am I here?” in all its clichéd, redundant and profound expression. While I am proud of my professional achievements and accomplishments, I’m at a life-stage where I question exactly what it was all about. There was a time, not that long ago, when these successes defined me. Not anymore. Now I am much more concerned with the quality of my life, my personal impact, my legacy. But those things are not exactly quantifiable are they? They don’t lend themselves to data manipulation much at all because often we have no idea who we impact and to what extent. The data is simply not available.

Since my market research acumen is not particularly useful in this line of questioning, I’ve had to rely more on my inner promptings, my insight, my intuition. Increasingly, I see that when I follow a “nudge” (or what I like to call a Holy Spirit whisper), something beautiful always results. I know these experiences are on the path of my purpose because of how they make me feel and what I see open up as a result, which is usually greater and more magnificent than what I could ever have expected.

To give a tiny example of this at work, I have had lunch or met with a few people recently that I just felt really called to get to know better. Every single one of these interactions has literally blown my mind in terms of shared experiences, kindred-spiritedness, and true heart-centered connections. I have no idea the extent of the impact of those meetings on either party, but this is what I do know for sure: there is an impact. I may not ever be able to connect the data and say that X meeting led to Y result. But it matters not. All I know is that something amazing is opening up as result, even if I don’t know exactly what that is right now.

Just this past Friday, as I was having dinner with a friend at Le Madeleine, I found myself in the midst of a quiet, understated legacy building moment. I had left our table for 5 minutes and when I came back I found her deep in conversation with a man at the table in front of us. Even though I was facing them the entire time, I was so engrossed in my conversation with my friend that I hadn’t noticed them. Turns out the man’s son, a 9th grader named Daniel, was a budding artist and had been busy painting at the table the whole time. He had acrylics, small canvasses, brushes, the whole nines. He had only started painting for a month but you could tell he was passionate about it. My friend, being the warm, personable, supportive person she is, spent the next 30 minutes uplifting, encouraging and building him up. She dished out advice, praised his work, asked questions, gave him inspiration  and offered to host him at the next youth event at the church we both attend, so he could get exposure for his artwork.

At first Daniel was shy but by the end of the conversation, he was animated and really excited about getting his art seen and sold by more people. His Dad was visibly moved and kept thanking us both for our kindness. Yes, I had been chiming in with praise and support, but truly I was the observer in this exchange, as I witnessed the power of just loving on people right where we are– in this case in the middle of dinner—and letting God just work his miracles.  Who knows, what if Daniel is the next Kieron Williamson  and our praise and encouragement was just what he needed to be motivated to keep going with his newfound talent? My friend will likely never see the fruit of her goodwill, but without a doubt she impacted that young man’s life by using her gift of generous praise to encourage someone she just met. To quote author Judy Blume, “Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.” This is what legacy building is truly about!

We so often get narrow-minded about what it means to leave a legacy. For many people continuing a family name and heritage is the first thought. Then we think of tangible things like wealth, property, status, or accomplishment that we can bequeath to our family. These things ultimately center on achievement and they’re fine, really, but are they all? I believe, life coach and motivational speaker Rasheed Ogunlaru’s   definition of legacy is spot on, “Legacy is not what is left tomorrow when you are gone. It’s what you give, create, impact and contribute today while you are here, that then happens to live on.”

It is my belief that creating a legacy is about using our gifts and talents to bless others. This broadens the definition of legacy making, to include truly anything we create or give to others.   This is what has eternal significance after all for it is written that, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” 1 Peter 4:10 NLT In this service to others we need to engage with them, just as my friend engaged Daniel. To be engaged requires sincere curiosity. In my evolution as a successful market researcher, I had to learn the art of crafting questions in such a way  that the answers elicited from the survey respondents gave me meaningful data I could use to shape a narrative that addressed my client’s goals. Asking the right questions in the right way, made all the difference in informing what recommendations I presented to my clients.  From experience, I know the same principles apply in relationship with others. My curiosity, compassion and level of engagement shape my dialog with others in ways that engender legacy building or not. It’s the difference between asking, “How are you?” versus “What did you get accomplished today?” or “What are you looking forward to today?” Our questions can open us up to learning, connection and discovery of others or they can shut them down.

We leave a legacy right where we are, with the people we interact with in the course of our daily professional and personal lives. We may never know the impact our lives truly have on others.  This is why it is important for us to treat everyone– regardless of rank, position, or wealth– with respect, integrity, and value. Commending, elevating, empowering, or endorsing others is how we pay it forward, how we sow seeds of significance  into others’ lives. And by so doing, we receive blessings tenfold, even though they cannot be quantified. For the Apostle Paul promised that: “he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to others] will also reap generously [and be blessed].” 2 Corinthians 9:6 AMP

My achievements have served me well and opened many doors for me. I am grateful for all my successes thus far. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll soon come to find that your greatest joys come from using your strengths in service of those in your sphere and knowing that you are leaving a legacy far greater than anything you could have imagined.


Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, branding coach, marketing consultant and freelance writer. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide :Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. Read more of her inspirational posts on her website. Email her at Elanimage07@gmail.com.