A Deeper Dive into the Interventions: The Ministry of Reconciliation
Facilitate positive relationship with clergyperson(s)/family members/institutions/others; and, Identify conflict with clergyperson(s)/family members/institutions/ others are the two main interventions for the purpose of reconciling estranged parties. Identifying the problem is the first step, facilitating the process is the second step. Facilitating is always on a permission basis because it takes work to do so. Some patients are unwilling or unable to put forth the effort to forgive. For those who might question the energy involved in the act of forgiveness, read on.
The Chaplain is the one to provide the emotional and spiritual support to the patient when there is the devastating, back-handed answer of “No” to a humble request of “I know what I did was wrong, please forgive me.” That answer leaves the patient and in other cases, the caregiver all discombobulated… emotionally and spiritually.
What is the Chaplain’s response to the brokenness of the patient? Let’s review the circumstances… First, what does it take to bring a hospice patient or, for that matter, any person to the point of seeking forgiveness? I think I can speak to this because, like you, I have had to ask for forgiveness from those I have wounded. It is a personal epiphany of the extent of failure, the awakening that what was done was so wrong that it damaged people I love, and that humbling oneself was far secondary to seeking to right the wrong. Has any of you been denied what you requested? I have. If you can recall the pain of having been told, “No, I won’t forgive you”, then you can compassionately identify as you provide support to the patient reeling from that denial. Brokenness responds to brokenness. How have you worked through your denied request for forgiveness? Counter-transference is not a healthy thing. C.S. Lewis helps us out when he wrote: “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.” How does this statement inform your life? “It changes me.” Hearing those words drains the infection from the wound allowing me to heal. It is never a pleasant experience to come to the place of deep humility, bare your soul and in that position of vulnerability seek a rightness where there was only wrongness and have it all pushed aside and denied. We all pray because we are helpless. Working through this type of pain is something only God can do. Out of the richness then of your experience with God are you able to provide a balm to the deeply troubled soul of your patient. God has a lot of experience with people who have said, “No”, to him. I hope you have noticed that I did not provide a simple formulary of “The Three Steps to Helping Your Patient Overcome the Pain From Being Denied Forgiveness.” I don’t think there is such a thing. Life does get messy. The above is part of the “identifying” process. Moving forward to seek forgiveness carries a risk. If the damage done to a loved one or friend or other person is so traumatic it may be a person to person meeting might cause more damage. If so, could a letter be more effective? There is much to consider in this matter of reconciliation. May you wisdom and to guide you in your work.