When Apologies Never Come
Jun 25, 2017 03:53AM
By Bonnie Lyn Smith
Want to know a secret? I am coming out of a cocoon of emotional healing recently, and my life has significantly transformed. I have metamorphosed into Bonnie 4.0. Here’s just a tiny window into the changes that, taken one at a time seem small, but when pieced together, they reveal the Father’s loving, gentle artwork.
The Potter and His clay.
But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
Ready? Here we go.
I get up early. (I am not a morning person and require seven hours of sleep to be pleasant.)
I talk to hummingbirds and tadpoles. (I have never been a nature person. Lately, I’ve turned into my Polish grandmother 40 years too soon, interrupting every conversation to comment on the amazing cardinal or chickadee to land on my bird feeder.)
I cheer on my garden plants. (I never used to be able to keep a houseplant alive; the thought of planting anything made me break out in hives.)
I let more stress slide off me. (I have two teenagers, a younger child with special needs, a traveling husband, and a [small] publishing business. Stress has been my middle name for as long as I can remember. So has sleeping in a position where by morning my shoulders are touching my earlobes and my neck all twisted up.)
I laugh more. (I’ve always cherished humor. I’m 44 years old, and potty humor can still send me into hysterics. So can three shots of espresso. But ab-tightening laughter? It escaped me for many years. I could not find it. It ran off somewhere and didn’t send me the address.)
I tell my dogs crazy things, and they love me anyway. (I get ridiculously, roll-on-the-floor caught up in chatting up my Shih Tzus as if they think about anything but eat, sleep, my lap, going outside, and treats.)
I soak in God's creation and spend more time outdoors. (I have always hated being in the bright sun, am allergic to half of New England plant life, and never used to notice God’s creatures as anything more than a nuisance slopping white goo on my windshield or digging holes in my yard.)
We just bought a used travel trailer, for crying out loud. A camper!
Let me tell you something. I wouldn't have signed up for this Bonnie 4.0 remodel or any of the excruciating pain that went with it, but I love the new me!
How did I get here?
Sometimes we are deeply wounded in ways that the person(s) who caused it cannot see. Either they choose not to, or they cannot. I’m not sure it matters in the long run. It matters for them, but it has little to do with us.
What do we do with the long empty spaces where communication either brings more pain and misunderstanding or silent distance so deafening that wide plains stretch out between us and the other person?
What if the one, or ones, who hurt us never “get it”? Or worse yet, they understand but they never “own it”?
See, I thought that mattered. I believed my healing was dependent on the actions of others.
I was wrong.
My healing was dependent on dependence on God alone. Not the comfort of a friend. Not the wisdom of a godly husband. Not even the love of my children.
I crawled up under His wings and just hung out. Got still. Listened.
Psalm 91:4, ESV
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
And when my mind wandered to negative thinking of any kind or dwelling on the pain, I took the pain to His holy altar and laid it there (many times until I was able to more fully give it to Him). And I simply thought about Him, my rescue. My shield. My everything.
When my anger, sadness, and rejection cycled around and around, on my better days, I took the other parties to God and said: “If it’s Your will, please heal them too. But I yield to Your healing whether they ever do or not.” Whew! How freeing!
Isaiah 26:3, ESV
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
I’m not the only one. I have many friends who have had relationships not work out. Some people refuse to work through conflict. Others are mentally unable to wrap their minds around another perspective; they live in their own created version of reality in order to cope with whatever pain chases them. Some folks are never sorry for anything that they do. They choose to keep hurting, leaving wreckage wherever they go.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what those other people do as far as we’re concerned. Conflict resolution is a beautiful goal, one I strive for in as many relationships as I can. It is one of my big parenting goals: to raise children who have the courage to be teachable and hear another perspective, to own their wrong, even when it is unintended.
But, when it comes to whether or not my heart can heal apart from those few folks over the years who completely devastate it? God doesn’t need the other party’s apology or ownership. He just needs our pliable, fully surrendered hearts. We only need to respond to Him with our need and then—here’s the real challenge—not take back the reins. We need to know healing comes in the still. In the yielding. In time spent under those beautiful wings.
I love the healing only God can do in my life! I still carry around heavy burdens like everyone else does. I continue to long for healthy conflict resolution that may never happen this side of heaven. I have my days when I ask Him for it anyway because, should He choose to give it, I’d consider it an amazing blessing. Even if it never comes, I have learned how to offload the weight of my heart to God and to wait on Him.
If you are in a season of sadness, fear, disappointment, disillusionment, or abandonment, ask Him to remake you from the ashes. He promises to restore. I am living proof that the Potter was at work even when the clay felt like a melted, jumbled heaping mess on the floor with no shape or direction.
1 Peter 5:10
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
For those weary hearts out there today…I get it. I truly do. Guard your hearts in Christ. The other person(s) cannot heal you. But God can. I promise.
Philippians 4:7, ESV
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
She is the author of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day and the founder and editor-in-chief of Ground Truth Press, a book publishing company.