The Truth About Reconciliation

“The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him…”  I John 2:4

castle wall

I had the pleasure of hearing Hal Lindsey speak recently on the subject of reconciliation.  He defined the New Testament term for “reconciliation” as the restoration between two or more parties, which is only made possible when the barriers to relationship have been removed.

Mr. Lindsey’s discourse centered beautifully on the redemptive work of Jesus who, through His sacrifice, broke the bond of sin and judgment that separates us from God.  It was Jesus who made reconciliation possible, yet it is conditioned upon our willingness to allow Him to remove the barriers that keep us apart and consent to His lordship, at which point the old things that hold us bound are put behind us, and we are made new and alive in genuine relationship with Him.

What Mr. Lindsey shared reveals a powerful truth that merits a closer look, particularly where abuse is involved, for the truth about reconciliation can also be applied in our person-to-person relationships, since the barriers to relationship must be removed if reconciliation is going to be possible.  And the abusive relationship is one where those barriers are usually quite substantial.

As far as the abusive relationship is concerned, its essence is one of inherent danger.  Dishonesty, cruelty and oppression run counter to the qualities of respect, honor and affection that we would expect to see in a healthy relationship.  Nevertheless, there is an almost universal willingness – and even eagerness – on the part of abuse victims to reconcile with their abusers even when these flagrant barriers to relationship remain.  Somehow there is a tendency to believe that reuniting under the premise of reconciliation will mysteriously bring it about.

Unfortunately, from my experience it rarely happens that way. When dealing with an abuser, the scenario may play out more like this:

A wear-worn victim leaves her abuser, at which point he suddenly – even miraculously – seems to come to his senses.  He may apologize profusely, offer up a hefty batch of promises and become all things kind and helpful.  It is against this backdrop that he will then beg his victim to “reconcile.”  She may be tempted to believe that the two of them are perched at the very precipice of wondrous restoration and marital harmony, and she may indeed leap at the opportunity to reunite.  Although she may have doubts, the conditions seem to be right, and she may choose to trust her perceptions rather than her instincts.  She is confident that the wall of separation is coming down.  Not wanting to discourage him or fearing that others may see her as cold and insensitive should she refuse to buy in, she probably will.

What she should do is pay heed to her wary instincts and wait.  In too many instances, the abuser’s newfound devotion and commitment to change quickly wane and weaken.  It may not be long before the promise-maker asks why he is the only one expected to do all the changing and returns to his fearsome, hurtful habits.  That arrogant temper and those selfish tendencies may quickly re-emerge, reinforcing the wall that has divided them and killing any prospects for true intimacy.

Failing to recognize the dynamic essence of the word, a victim may also receive additional pressure to “reconcile” from pastors, lay counselors and friends.  In this context, reconciliation is loosely translated as an agreement to reside in the same household with the abuser, whether or not the offenses and core issues have been addressed.  Just get back together and try to work things out later.  The perception of reconciliation is of greater importance than the truth, which would acknowledge that a colossal wall has been constructed that prevents authentic reconciliation from taking place.

Ultimately, returning to a relationship with someone who has not demonstrated genuine repentance does not constitute reconciliation, as the undeniable barriers to relationship are high and broad and deep.  Unless those barriers are removed, until that wall is torn down so that mutuality is the priority, and love and respect and care form the centerpiece of the bond, the notion of living in harmony and enjoying true intimacy is nothing but a fallacy.

Some may call it reconciliation, but you have not been reconciled.  You have only returned to your abuser.

“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”  James 3:16

Copyright 2015, All Rights Reserved

Cindy Burrell






10 thoughts on “The Truth About Reconciliation”

  1. Very powerful, Cindy. And once again, I would like to post this on my own blog, with your copyright/name, as this message needs to go out to as many people as possible, I believe (although my blog is “small potatoes” :)).

    I think it is also an especially important message because of the frequently heard, “You have to forgive and forget” mentality that keeps many women (and children) in harmful situations and/or draws them back into same.

    Thank you, once again for a very powerful message and one that is sorely needed.

    1. Hello, “P.” I always appreciate your commentary and truly appreciate your introduction to this piece on your blog. Well done!

      You are always welcome to re-post anything that you think will be of value to those in your circle. And I don’t think there is any such thing as “small potatoes.” 🙂 If just one person takes away a nugget the truth and their life is changed as a result, that is a huge deal, with all glory going to the One who is the source of all truth and the author and perfecter of our faith.

      I too found this truth powerful when I heard it, and it made perfect sense to me. It grieves me that we don’t hear more of this from the pulpit.



      1. Hello, Laura Grace.

        Thank you for taking the time to write and share.

        You wrote a whole book on this? I would love to have your perspective and to know whether you have had success in promoting this view. It isn’t easy…

        I’d love to hear from you. You can always e-mail me from the About Me/Contact Cindy page, if you’re interested in writing to me privately.

        All the best,


  2. Thank you, cindy, for this article. Those “barriers” to relationship were not put there by me, nor are they able to be removed by me. I am at a much different place now thanks to you, stronger, more sure of truth, more sure of my value. Clarity. That is the gift you have given me and I can never repay it. I appreciate this insightful, “cautionary tale” of how the abuser mindset works. Being “in the know” now gives me the freedom to sort of “watch and wait” (or move on if it comes to that) without any pressure to EVER reconcile if that is the result. Regardless of the outcome, I know that God wants me to have an abundant, abuse-free life!

    1. Bravo, Debby!

      It is pretty impressive that you can now freely acknowledge that the barriers in your relationship were not put there by you, nor is it your responsibility to remove them. I am happy for you and blessed to know that your life can now be grounded in a knowledge of the truth rather than motivated by a sense of obligation or guilt or emotion.

      As you have discovered, clarity and peace are essential as you move forward. (And look how far you have come!)

      As always, I thank you for writing and taking the time to share what you are learning. You are right; God wants you to have an abundant, abuse-free life!

      All the best,


  3. I just found your site and have been encouraged by this particular post. Thank you so much for being brave enough to tell us who are in the difficult spot of feeling pressure to reconcile the truth. Well-meaning family and friends just want to see the marriage/family “fixed”, and given enough time, they think that it should all be good now – that the storm has passed and it’s time to mend fences. I am so grateful to see confirmation of my own conviction that reconciling without repentance means that there will truly be no change in the relational dynamics, just a lot of words to make everyone else think there’s been a change of heart.
    I so appreciate your Biblical stance even though it is not popular in many Christian circles. God is a faithful and true. Following His truth has been the hardest thing I’ve eve done, but after almost 30 years of marriage, speaking the truth is what needed done.
    I know this comment is rather scatter-brained, but how does one comment on this without pages upon pages of the story of one’s life? LOL
    Thank you for being strong enough to write the Truth to those who need to hear it. God is using you to help the weak and vulnerable.

    1. Hello, Elaine.

      I’m glad you found the website, that his article was helpful to you and that you took the time to write.

      Your message wasn’t scatter-brained at all. You are welcome to post here if you’d like, and you are also welcome to e-mail me privately if you are interested from the Contact Cindy page. You might also want to subscribe so that you receive future posts. You can be assured that I do not sell or use my readers’ contact information for any other purpose.

      I had to laugh a little when you noted that what I share here is not exactly “popular” within the Christian culture. How true! Nevertheless, I know that marriage is a relationship designed by God that we are to hold in highest regard, an earthly reflection of the love relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. This means upholding the sanctity of marriage, not merely the office of it.

      I appreciate knowing that this ministry is encouraging to you and hope you will return as you have need. Let me know if there is other information you are seeking, and I will do what I can to direct you.

      Again, thank you for taking the time to write and share.


  4. And this proving of the change in the abuser may take quite some time. Mine faked repentance and change and promises for two full years before returning to his old ways.

    1. Hello, Ilene.

      Wow. Thank you for taking the time to write about your painful experience. What you shared is very powerful – but so sad. I’m sorry that you went through all of that only to discover that your husband’s “change” was temporary.

      I wonder (if you would feel comfortable responding), did you have any sense at the time of your reconciliation that something wasn’t quite right? Did you feel an obligation to accept his change or set aside any niggling doubt, or were you wholly convinced that he was a changed man?

      From my experience here, it seems that many of us are tempted to override our instincts to give our abusers the benefit of the doubt, to put faith in his words with the belief that he will honor our trust and follow through. Some of us go through this over and over again. But maybe your experience was very different from that…

      So I also wonder how you are now, if you are still with your husband or if you have removed yourself from him. Please feel free to write me privately from my About Cindy/Contact Me page. There are also several articles I have on the site that may be of help. The ones that come to mind are, “What Your Emotions Are Telling You,” and maybe, “The Heart’s Sweet Lie.”.

      Feel free to write. I will be happy to help if I can.



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