By dialogue, we let God be present in our midst, for as we open ourselves to one another, we open ourselves to God”.
-Pope John Paul II

The greatest instrument for achieving interior and exterior peace and reconciliation is “dialogue”. Many age long conflicts, misunderstandings among individuals, families, nations, etc., would have long been settled amicably if the parties involved were to agree to come together to dialogue. We often bracket and cut off people completely because they hurt us; not willing to give them a chance to voice out their feelings or render their apology. For me, the worst you can do to a person who did wrong to you is not to give the person an opportunity to apologize or express himself or herself, especially when he or she wants to do that. We often blindly conclude that the person who hurt us did it intentionally when it may not be so. Granted that a person can malign another intentionally, but there are times this is not the case. Our positive actions could be misinterpreted or misconstrued, and that is all the more reason we need to dialogue with people to understand the rationale behind their actions. Our perception of the actions of others is often biased or prejudiced. We often see what we choose to see, hear what we choose to hear and read our own meaning into the actions of others. There is no better way of understanding people’s actions than their own explanations or interpretation of what they did or are doing. A child being punished by the parents for wrongdoing might see their action as punitive, but a courageous child might try to ask why he is being punished and only then will he or she understand the love behind the action of the parents. Let us open up our minds to listen to others and dialogue our feelings with them. If we close up, the enmity grows and the hurt deepens. We need to break the shackles of self-enclosure and imprisonment to liberate our emotions and dialogue with another.

Every hurt or harm done can be placated when we dispose ourselves to talk with the person who hurt us. Let’s give people the chance to communicate their feelings. Have the courage and develop the emotional maturity to hear him or her out. Their explanation might change the way you feel about yourself and your perception about the person(s). That husband, wife, friend, brother or sister might not be at fault. There could be something beyond his or her control that led to the action that displeased you. He or she might also be truly repentant and wish to atone or make restitution for the harm willfully done. Please hear him or her out, don’t just condemn the person.

Every reconciliatory dialogue must be neutral and not a time to recount the harms done or a time to judge who was at fault. It must be respectful and not abusive. Dialoguing presupposes an attitude of forgiveness even before opening up to talk. Dialogue is a Christian attitude. The three steps for reconciliation are purely based on dialogue. “ If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. ” (cf Mathew 18:15) I would add not only that you have gained your brother or sister but you have also regained your spiritual energy and emotional balance.

It hurts to erect walls that separate us from those with whom we have shared and with whom we have a lot in common, especially those who have given us so much before a misunderstanding ensued. We build walls when we stop communicating, visiting or sharing with those that hurt us and delete their numbers from our phones and destroy anything that reminds us of them, such as pictures. We often think by deleting these, we have succeeded in pushing away memories and thoughts of them. Yet these memories live on in our subconscious mind and continue to hurt us until we open them up to dialogue and forgiveness. I can remember a friend who in the past came to me to request the phone contact of a person whom I knew was very close friends with him. I was curious to know what led to the disappearance of the contact from his phone. I presumed a technological issue like phone break down, but when I decided to ask what happened, I was shocked to hear that they had issues and he deleted the number. Then I asked why he would need it now? He smiled and begged and begged to have the number again with which I later obliged him. I have learned in life, not to delete people’s numbers because of a misunderstanding. You might seriously need it tomorrow, either to request for their help or desire to reconcile with them. Not until the day you realize that someone whose number you deleted is the only person who can help you in a certain situation, will you understand what I am saying. Don’t presume you can get the number again. One of the best things you can do is to call those who hurt you whether intentionally or not. Keep calling even if they don’t pick up. I hope after reading this you will call one of them. I plead with you.

I have often encouraged the divorced or people who have kept malice for others for a long time to check on them from time to time. I strongly believe that even though things went wrong in the past, friendship can be re-established and the sad feelings give way to some smiles. On one occasion I engaged in a lengthy discussion with a divorced lady. She narrated her ordeals and I pleaded with her to call the man just to say “Hi, how are you?”, but she retorted, ” The last thing I will do is to call that wicked man”. She said it so ferociously that I could feel the heat of her anger. Her face turned pale and I became afraid of having awaken a ‘sleeping dog’. I calmed her down and our discussion progressed. She further narrated how the man sent her a friendship request on Facebook and how she quickly deleted it. My interaction with this lady paints a practical picture of how difficult it could be to open up to dialogue.

It is really hard to open up or forgive especially when one is severely hurt and the remembrance of the past experience traumatizes. Gathering up the courage to speak to the other person or opening up to listen to the person who hurt you, who is truly repentant is a positive act. Do not let the burden of your past experience weigh you down. Do not let grudges you have against another person be a hindrance to your spiritual growth and eternal happiness . Just let it go. Every experience in life has something to teach us. Most of the time we learn through pain and disappointments. Be cheerful and happy that you went through all that, and still are alive today. I plead with you to rely upon the grace of God and earnest prayers to God to give you a new heart, and a new spirit.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh .” ( cf. Ezekiel 26:36)

©Clem C Aladi, 2019.

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