Stop Lying to Yourself and Start Reconciling with Others.

Ten Guardian-Lies 

or "Why I do not have to reconcile"

Disclaimer:  There are interpersonal conflicts that are sometimes intractable based on criminal felony offenses, years of abuse, deep emotional wounds, and the like.  I am not writing about those types of complicated conflicts.  I am writing about the normal routine conflicts that people bring into New Path Center every week.


As a result of serving as a mediator over the last 20 years, I've noticed a pattern.  Sometimes, when I invite conflicted clients to enter a reconciliation process, the clients, along with several other clients, give amazingly similar irrational responses.  I hear the following responses over and over again.  Hence, I have learned to recognize these repeating phrases as "guardian-lies."

A guardian-lie is any belief that hinders a person from moving forward.  People are stuck NOT because of any outside force beyond his or her control.  People are stuck due to their own belief and choice.


Here are some of the most common guardian-lies that I hear.  These lies keep people from moving forward to reconciliation.

I choose to remain stuck in conflict because:

  1. I know the other party will not want to reconcile.
  2. Even if the other party says they want to reconcile, they are not showing enough sincerity, remorse, humility, forgiveness, (and so on).
  3. Reconciling will only be a waste of time.
  4. We have tried to reconcile in the past but it has never worked, and it won't work this time.
  5. Any more contact with the other party will only make it worse.
  6. There is nothing we could possibly do to make it better
  7. The other party knows what they did wrong, they need to come to me.
  8. If I have wronged someone, they have the responsibility to come to me.
  9. I'm just going to avoid being around the other person.
  10. The other party is "crazy!"

1. Dr. Ed Smith, Theophostice Prayer Ministry, adapted by Tony Redfern

The NPC Marital Mediation Agreement is designed to set a redemptive path.


When working with couples as a Marital Mediator, it has been my experience, to be very explicit upfront about the need to experience forgiveness and agreement to avert a marriage meltdown. Hence, I use the following document as a redemptive tool to frame the mediation dialogue and to set a hopeful path to reconciliation.


New Path Center (NPC) offers Marital Mediation to couples who want to stay married but have issues to be worked through, deeper understanding to be shared, forgiveness to be experienced, and agreements to be made and kept for a brighter marital future.

NPC encourages couples having trouble with issues of offenses and/or injustices, control, and power to use mediation to experience forgiveness and reach an agreement addressing these issues, thereby strengthening the marriage. Couples jointly hire an associate of NPC to act as a mediator, not as a lawyer or counselor for either party.


During a series of meetings, you and your spouse work with the mediator, and on your own time, to identify issues and work out a mutually satisfactory plan to address them. This work includes exchanging any and all information pertaining to these issues, and sharing of control, power and responsibility you consider best for the both of you. You are free to consult with a lawyer, financial planner or other advisor at any time. The process is designed to help you strengthen your marriage.


Marital mediation works only if you are willing to make a good faith effort to reach forgiveness and agreement with your marriage partner. There is no legal obligation to forgive or agree. Any constructive commitment to mediation, and to make the resulting outcome work, comes voluntarily from you and your spouse. Note: “yes” answers to the following questions determine if mediation is a reasonable resource for your marriage:

Do you want a healthy marriage?

Can we talk about anything & everything?

Will you own your part in the issues?


The processes of forgiveness, understanding, and agreement can change behavior in your relationship. Just identifying the issues you struggle with is itself healthy. Creating personal solutions will give your marriage a greater life expectancy. Learning communication and reconciliation skills will enhance all of your relationships. Your children will thrive in the absence of parental conflict.


New Path Center does not maintain a set fee schedule for the service of Marital Mediation. These services are provided at the NPC office in Kingsburg, CA. The amounts are only suggestions for your consideration. Please see the attached NPC “Financial Policy, Fees, & Donations” document or visit:


We wish to define the terms of forgiveness, understanding, and agreement to help us stay married, as simply and sensibly as possible. We have read the description of Marital Mediation. Each of us agrees to participate fully in this effort to define our future behavior in order to improve our marriage.

We agree to hire ____________________________ as our marital mediator(s).

We realize our mediator shall not represent either or both of us as an attorney at any time in connection with our Marital Agreement. During the mediation we agree to disclose all aspects of our marital issues. Each of us is free to consult our personal advisors at any time.

We agree that all communications in mediation, including all notes, homework, draft contracts and other writings, are completely confidential. Neither of us can seek testimony of the mediator or disclosure of their file in connection with any court proceeding related to this mediation process.

We realize the mediator is in charge of the mediation process and will give each of us equal time as much as possible, whether our sessions are together or separate, and will not take sides other than to help guide us to a reasonable agreement designed to help us stay married. We realize we are not required to mediate any issue or to reach agreement on any issue. We voluntarily enter marital mediation.

(Signature lines and contact information)


VORP: A Story of Redemption

Eric had big career plans but his involvement in a crime undermined his chances of obtaining his goal and a brighter future. He was now faced with a criminal record. It seemed like a minor act of retaliation “because a friend asked.” But a few minutes of "drive-by-paintball" vandalism resulted in a felony with long-term consequences. Eric’s future was unclear and certainly bleak.

I am always moved by the stories I experience while doing mediation work with the community & faith-based Victim Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP). I have been a volunteer VORP mediator since 1992. Serving as a VORP mediator has been both worthwhile and inspirational. It is some of the most important work that I could do for my community as I see the redemptive message of Jesus Christ come to life.

While I have had the privilege of helping a number of juvenile offenders, Eric (not his real name) comes to mind most certainly as a person with a story of redemption due in part because of VORP. Eric’s story consists of many events that contributed to his transformation journey. However, I am pleased to share that a VORP mediation was one of those events that helped him on his journey of character development.

The Fresno County Probation Department referred Eric’s case to VORP. VORP assigned the case to me. I met with Eric to explain how VORP could help with his situation. I told him that if he wanted to cooperate with the VORP program, he would be given an opportunity to make things as right as possible with his victims.

While I could not guarantee that a judge would be any easier on him because of VORP, I did tell Eric that if he cooperated and worked on a constructive resolution to his offense, the VORP program might be beneficial for him at his court time. He would still have to pay his fines, do his community service, finish his classes, and do all the justice system required of him. I could not change any of that for him. I could only offer a program that might help him, his victims, and his community to heal from the offense.

Right from the start, Eric was a willing participant in the VORP mediation process. He arrived on time and constructively added to the success of the mediation as we met with his victims. He also quickly fulfilled his VORP agreement with his victims. In fact, Eric went above and beyond what was expected of him in making things as right as possible. He did practical jobs for the victims, expressed apology, regret, embarrassment, self-assessment, and remorse in addition to being the author of a generous restitution amount. He also paid the restitution in full and sooner than agreed.

The victims’ willingness to participate in this redemptive story is another wonderful feature of Eric’s journey. The victims gained not just payment for damages done, but they also gained an opportunity to become agents of change. Eric was impressed with their “big hearts” toward him, their kindness, and their openness to include him in their community once again. He said their words were healing, but what made the difference was their redeeming actions toward him. I can’t go into detail on their exact actions, but it was a huge step toward healing.

The day before his scheduled court appointment, Eric asked if I would write a letter to the judge outlining all that he had completed with the VORP program. I gladly wrote the letter. Eric said as he stood before the judge all he held in his hands was his VORP letter. He gave the letter to the bailiff, the bailiff gave the letter to the judge, the judge read the letter, and the judge looked down over his glasses at Eric. “Have you learned your lesson,” the judge asked. “Yes,” Eric replied. “Charges dismissed,” said the judge.

Dismissed? What did this mean? It meant that Eric would not have this felony on his record. In essence the judge had forgiven him and, thus, no longer held the offense against him. Eric’s future all of a sudden became clear and bright.

Today, Eric is not only enjoying a brighter future but he is also growing in his faith, attending both church and a young-adult Bible study, planning on going on a mission trip, and learning to choose better friends.

This is Eric’s redemptive story which continues to this day toward a brighter future.

Forgiveness in Action in Kingsburg

I enjoy being a part of a wonderful ministerial fellowship in Kingsburg. As a result of participating with this group of ministers, I have benefited greatly by becoming friends with pastors from various denominations. One such friendship is with the local priest, Father Greg Beaumont. He has written the following article which tells a gripping redemptive story about a juvenile offender and forgiveness. The article was first published in a recent Central California Catholic Life newspaper. Here is the article in full, in his own words, reprinted with his permission:

It was a sad and disheartening day back in early December, when we discovered that the monstrance (empty), a thurible for burning incense from Jerusalem, a chasuble (priest's vestment), three alter servers robes, an empty velvet collection bag and the small cross from the Tabernacle - valued $7000 were gone. Much greater value, of course, was the sacredness of these things we use for worship here at the Holy Family church in Kingsburg. This was the first of a string of robberies, in five churches in Kingsburg.

Later, a 16 year-old was arrested and the stolen items recovered and the people in the town were angry and upset. In February, I talked with the youth in juvenile hall. He told me how difficult it was to be there for over a year. "I was not a thief, but in a weak and foolish moment agreed to hide the items stolen by some 'friends' involved with drugs."

I expressed the forgiveness of everyone at my church, and how we are prepared to help him. He was surprised and confused because, he felt he didn't deserve any kindness. I give thanks for this very special grace-filled opportunity. It is the infinite love and mercy that Jesus shows us on the cross, that inspires us to treat others with kindness and patience and mercy even when they offend us and hurt us.

I shared with him the story of Jesus how he was arrested, and treated as a criminal, and the story of St. Maximilian Kolbe, who used his prison time to reach out to others with kindness and to help them. He could make his jail stay more bearable by being kind to other young prisoners and to the correctional officers. He said the he was profoundly sorry for the theft, and together we bowed our heads and prayed.

For anyone who has been hurt, offended, victimized, abused, robbed or betrayed, cheated on, overlooked, neglected or put down, there is a road that leads to healing and peace. It is the road to Calvary, to the Son of Man who in response to scourging, blows and spit in this face, insults and lies, mockery and crowning with thorns, and with nails driven into this hands and feet, made the effort to say, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

What is interesting is I tried to become involved with this case as a VORP mediator. But sadly I could not gain parental consent. Even so, it is just like God to provide another means to bring redemptive value to a dark situation. Thank you Father Greg for being an instrument of God's peace!

Sunset Forgiveness

(Scott full of life!)

Today is February 4th. This date remains one of the most important redemptive days in our family’s life.

February 4, 1996, a Sunday, to be exact. Amy was away at Biola University, beginning the second semester of her freshman year. Scott, a sophomore at Immanuel High School in Reedley, was not having a good morning. He argued with his mom all the way to church. He was relentlessly unapologetic about wanting his own way on some issue – neither Bonnie nor I can remember the issue, but we do remember the argument well.

As we arrived at church, Bonnie stayed in the car with Scott, hoping to reach a point of reconciliation. It was to no avail. Scott was determined to remain angry and eventually left the car in a huff.

We remember how troubled we felt as we sat through church, knowing all the while the lack of unity in our family that morning. We went to the New Life class (I taught the class at the time) and again this burden for reconciliation weighed heavy on us.

Following the class, Scott came down stairs to meet me, as he often did at the end of our time at church. I reminded Scott how "vitally important" it was to make things right with his mother - today, now, immediately. Scott stated that he knew he was wrong and he would talk with her as soon as we left the building.

Scott did make things right. He apologized for his anger. He asked Bonnie to forgive him, and she did. We went on to have a great day together, fellowshipping with one another, enjoying laughs and talking about the plans we had for the coming week.

The next day, February 5th, at 11:26 am, God called Scott home. At 11:36 am - I was paged as I pulled off northbound Hwy 99, Floral Ave., Selma, California, 1996 in the year of our Lord. I called my office. My co-worker said, "Your son has been hurt in an accident." Time and space stood still that day. As the events unfolded, a horrifying dread came over me.

Scott was involved in a fatal accident in his woodshop class. Although he was placed on life support, he was declared brain dead on Tuesday, February 6th. We said goodbye, this side of eternity, to our precious son, Scott, at the age of 16 years old.

Why then, is February 4th, such an important redemptive day to our family? None of us knew it would be the last full day with Scott. None of us knew

This is for why - why we take care of today's conflict today. May your sunsets always include the vivid colors of forgiveness.