Relationships Matter

By Nora Whittington

Nora Whittington has lived and worked in Waterloo Region for 35 years. With an education in Communications and Journalism, she has spent her entire career in public relations, community engagement, marketing and event planning. Her career has included roles in a newspaper, radio promotions, corporate public relations, marketing management, fundraising and non-profit leadership. Nora also enjoyed several years working at the Waterloo Chamber of Commerce before it amalgamated with the Kitchener Chamber of Commerce. With a passion for people and community, Nora continues to make a difference in Waterloo region by being part of the team at the Immigration Partnership where she is involved in community engagement. She resides in Waterloo with her husband Steve and two children, Reese, 16 and Tessa 11.

Reconciliation Requires Grace, Wisdom, and Vision

I recently read, that to reconcile, we need grace, wisdom, and vision.  These words certainly resonate for me as my in-law family has experienced division for almost four years.

It has become common in this cultural to see marriages end.  When we learn someone has separated or divorced from their spouse, we are typically unaffected by such news.  It remains sad, but unfortunately, the shock factor is less than it used to be.

But, what is growing are more and more separations amongst siblings, adult children and parents, extended family members and dear friends.   Those relationships that we hoped would be stable, committed and unconditional are now more at risk.   The lack of tolerance we have in families for each other’s mistakes and imperfections is discouraging, to say the least.  There is a lack of tendency in these relationships to offer the benefit of the doubt and to accept that not everyone has to be in agreement and see things the same way.  We simply need to accept and love each other.

I have been married for 33 years.  I hope by now that offers me some insight into committed relationships.   I believe that all relationships require a healthy dose of compromise, forgiveness, understanding, tolerance,  vulnerability and selflessness.   Several people whom I know have experienced physical and emotional abuse and infidelity in their marriages.  These are strong stories and yet those who have been on the receiving end of this pain, still claim that the forgiveness is what freed them.  Some of these stories have ended in healing and reconciliation, and others have found ways to manage without anger and resentment.  I have been so inspired by the grace, wisdom, and vision in these situations.

But as I reflect on relationships outside of marriage, I am curious to know, what has happened to our society where we are prepared to close a door so easily on meaningful and historical relationships for reasons that are so easy to solve?   Of course, there are times when boundaries need to be set in unhealthy relationships but, I still believe the conversations need to happen.  It could be in person or writing and where necessary – a mediator, counselor or friend present.  If a family relationship or friendship is at all salvageable, isn’t it worth making that effort rather, than assuming, it will never work?  Forgiveness is a choice and once that decision is made (even if you don’t feel like it, the peace and the possibilities will follow.)   It takes courage and strength to confront a family member or friend about something that isn’t working or is upsetting.  It is even harder to ask for forgiveness – a decision that could heal and even improve the relationship.

Often, in families (and other relationships) the brokenness can be rooted in misconceptions, self-projection, hear-say, jealousy, gossip or childhood issues such as abandonment.  Sometimes these are challenging to overcome but not impossible.

Originally posted 2016-07-01 06:22:33.

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