Is Reconciliation Worth It?


We are proud that we have a safe place and that we have trust, but I am most proud that we reconcile with almost everyone! — Terry
Recalling a time when
an angry confrontation
turned to reconciliation
We sat face-to-face in an uncomfortable silence. Robert was not responding to me as he stared at his phone. We were going to have a falling out for sure.
In our Drop-in Center, safety is our number one requirement, as it creates the foundation on which we build trust. We provide many physical relief items: food, drink, clothing, toiletries, self-care aids, etc. Those are important, to be sure, but the very moment safety comes into question, nothing else matters. Many of our clients will flash back to times — perhaps recent times — when safety was in peril. Those moments are never good.
We don’t have a lot of rules, but NO SMOKING is one of them. Vaping isn’t new, and it’s never been a problem, but for some reason we recently had clients who, unlike past occasional vapers, left huge clouds of smoke behind. It raised concerns among staff and other clients, so we banned vaping as we did all smoking. Unfortunately, the decision wasn’t popular.
One client couldn’t follow the rule, so I had to ask him to leave. A heated exchange escalated as other clients joined in, including Robert. Eventually, everyone else left, leaving Robert and me sitting face-to-face, and it was obvious he wasn’t moving or talking.
 
I began to reevaluate. I recognized what I believed were signs of PTSD. I backed off and waited, but I didn’t disengage. Finally, Robert warned me: “I’m going to explode, and that won’t be good for you.” I responded with, “You can explode if you need to. I’m here and not going anywhere.” After some time, he was finally able to stand up and leave the center. He didn’t say anything more, but his body language told me he was very angry.
We are in the business of reconciliation. It’s not unusual for someone to be angry with me, but when the anger lingers, it’s a hindrance to ministry. We seek reconciliation. We seek healing. We seek to be better than before.
Robert returned the next day and asked to talk. He apologized. I apologized for letting things get more personal and directed at him more than necessary. We talked about his PTSD and his coping mechanisms. The incident and its reconciliation changed him from someone who was shy and rarely shared to someone who is much more engaged.
This incident isn’t unique. Holding people accountable, sharing difficult news, standing up to a bully who doesn’t like your view — none of this is popular, but it’s the stuff real relationships are made of.
While we offer relief, we are in a ministry of offering hope and long-term relationships to young adults who often have never had such relationships with reliable adults. It’s not easy. Healing and restoration occur in the ebb and flow of these relationships. We are proud that we have a safe place and that we have trust, but I am most proud that we reconcile with almost everyone. Of the 5,000 people we have served in the past 10 years, only two have yet to reconcile with us – and we continue to reach out to both as often as we can.
One day we believe it will happen. And God’s goodness will flow into that breach, and wonderful results will follow!

Terry Cole

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