In life, we all deal with broken relationships. Things get messy and feelings are hurt, sometimes very deeply. My default way of handling situations like these that are too tricky or uncomfortable is to ignore them. Ignore the person through phone, in person, but still think of the situation over and over again in my mind. That constant ruminating has never been good for my mind.
The question is why, why ignore when you can deal with things and move on with life? It might actually have a positive outcome that ends with reconciliation and a renewal of the relationship. I guess there’s fear of hurt and pain and reliving with that person directly the hurt that was caused, not just on my part, but their part as well.
Am I willing to take ownership of the parts that I’ve had to play in a relationship going sour? In my head I am, and that’s what I would tell someone else. But in these scenarios I still come out on top, I’m still right and can feed my arrogance and pride. To confess in person to the other party and be open and willing to listen to their side of the story will not always have me feeling great about myself at the end of the day.
It will require a great deal of vulnerability, which is one thing that is hard to handle. Even the act of confessing my hurt is an act of opening those hurt places again and having them exposed, being willing to experience those feelings again. And in hearing the grievances of others might end in new wounds for me. Again, why relive that pain?
But unconfessed all that hurt lies under a band-aid of sorts left there to keep things hidden and safe and out of view. To rip off the band-aid would result in exposure. But I’ve learned enough from physical wounds that sometimes you need to take a bandage off to expose it to the air to really get full healing. Then the scab will come, the body’s natural way of healing (perhaps in this metaphor, the reconciliation that happens after the conversation?) and eventually that even heals and the skin will close over.
There are scars leftover though, at the end of the healing, the wounded will never be the exact same again. It’s those scars that we learn from and remind us what has happened. We can choose to do things differently next time in how we interact. We can choose to ignore them and keep going through life doing the same things over and over again. We can lift those scars and bandages up and play a victim, still staying hidden behind our protection and not risk getting vulnerable again.
How would God have us act? Well, I know that God only exists in the light, not in the darkness. He can only operate his truth there and his healing. I know that after the Fall is when we became self-conscious and unable to share our vulnerability with others and ourself, for fear of hurt and pain and rejection. So as much as I want to stay hidden and ignore I know I cannot.
Because then I wouldn’t be transformed into the person God has created me to be. I stay impotent in the sinful shell. To expose to the light will only cause growth. In this life, we are not meant to stay as we are but are to become a reflection of and an image-bearer of our Creator. I can’t do that by ignoring life but by embracing life and moving forward.
I wonder what it was like for Paul after his conversion? There were a lot of people he had to face and reconcile with, including himself. What did his conversations look like? There was a lot of arrogance and pride on his part that had to be exposed and healed so that he could transform and step into the life God had for him. I can only believe that he did that hard work of reconciliation because of the great work he did for God. There is no way a man full of bandages and unhealed wounds could walk around speaking so powerfully for God. But there is a way for a man full of scars and humbled by his past and the grace that has abounded in his life to be vulnerable and let others in, to share his story so that others might believe and begin their own transformation as well.
So what do I want my life to be marked by, unhealed wounds hidden and covered up, or scars? They’re both hard, but one will lead to new life and more mobility and one will not. Instead of ignoring the next phone call, I need to pick it up. I have a scenario in my head of what I’ll be met with on the other side but I don’t know for sure till I step into the path and see where it leads. This path will tell it’s own story, not one from before. There’s new characters at play, even myself. I’m not the same person walking into this hurt that I was before. Do I trust my temporary hurt and pain more than I trust the God of the universe?