Thursday, November 11, 2010

Reconciliation: When Sorry Isn't Enough

The wound was made unintentionally, as many wounds are, but it hit me deep, down to the very core of my being, like many wounds do.  I felt as if I had been shattered.  I felt angry and betrayed, but most of all, I felt hurt.  I heard the words, “Joy I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.  I didn't mean to hurt you.  I'm sorry.”  I heard the words, but I turned away.  I didn't want to hear them. The word “sorry” felt about as effective as putting a band-aid on a severed femoral artery.

I went to bed that night with tears still running down my cheeks.  I hadn't spoken to anyone all day.  The hurt was raw.  I listened to the voice of one of my friends as she sang me a song (it had been recorded on my voicemail a few weeks earlier, so I could listen when I needed it).  She sang about love as strong as a hurricane and a grace as big as an ocean.  Usually the song brought me comfort, but tonight the only ocean I could see was full of razor sharp teeth, waiting to swallow me up. 

The devil oscillated between trying to get me to blame myself entirely for the wound and trying to get me to push the entirety of the blame onto someone else and resign myself to the position of victim (in reality, there was blame to share).  He was throwing lies at me thick and furious, trying to draw me down a road that I did not want to travel. I was filled with terror; terror so great it drowned out the pain from earlier.

I lay in my bed, tears of pain mingling with tears of terror.  I hardly knew where to turn or how to proceed.  I texted a few friends and asked them to pray, but I knew I was going to have to fight on my own as well. I prayed the Lord's Prayer over and over and over again, the words choking under the tears. Sometimes they came out in English, sometime in German,sometimes in a choking, sobbing mixture of the two.  Eventually I gave into exhaustion and fell into a restless sleep.

I woke the next morning with a heavy heart.  I worked my way through the day in zombie-mode, not talking to anyone, avoiding the person who had wounded me like the plague (this is a bit of a trick on a small campus), not eating, not smiling – simply existing, hoping that the band-aid would hold, willing myself to accept the apology and forget about the whole thing.  I worked hard to exhaust myself all day – physically at least, the mental and emotional exhaustion was taking care of itself. I stayed up late, struggling to focus on school work and then finally collapsed into bed.

The next morning I woke up with a headache and an upset stomach.  This whole band-aid thing wasn't working out so well. Sorry just wasn't going to be enough.  Every fiber of my being wanted to curl back up and go back to bed, but I had classes to attend and I couldn't justify skipping.  I didn't have a fever and I wasn't puking.  I can't remember a thing we talked about in class, but I know that by the time class was done, I knew that I had to take a step to make things right.

It wasn't going to be easy. It meant tearing the band-aid off and revisiting the pain. It was time to lance the wound before it healed any further (For more on this metaphor see: A Band-aid will never fix it all the way).

What happened next was beautiful.  We hugged, I apologized for holding anger, she apologized for hurting me, we both accepted the role we played in the situation, and we prayed together.  We prayed to a G-d who is in the business of restoring relationships, a G-d who knows what betrayal and hurt feels like, a G-d who forgives us so that we can forgive others, a G-d who had the power to bring restoration to the relationship.

Reconciliation: the art of “bringing again into unity, harmony, or agreement what has been alienated.” (The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible).  It's a beautiful thing. It's what G-d has done for us and what He gives us the strength to offer each other.

Reconciliation – The better band-aid.

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