Some say that time heals all wounds but I disagree. Unhealed wounds and unreconciled relationships create bitterness. I’ve known a lot of bitter, hurt people who’ve been walking in unresolved circumstances for many years. Time doesn’t heal. Forgiveness and reconciliation heal.
Growing up, I didn’t have the best father. In fact, he was the opposite of best. He was drunk, neglectful, irresponsible, unreliable, abusive, and eventually left our family in the dust of betrayal, adultery and the birth of a daughter who was not my mother’s child. It was tragic and, like all whose families have been destroyed by infidelity and unfaithfulness, I grew angry and bitter. I hated my dad for choosing his own lust and human weakness over me, my sister, and my mother. I spent many days wishing my dad would die and thinking that would be easier to cope with than knowing he was spending his days sharing the sunlight and dinners with a new, replacement family.
As time passed, days turned to months and months turned to years and this elapsed time did not heal the gaping hole in my soul nor did it bring my father back into my family no matter how much I prayed for it. For years I suffered through what little time my dad allowed me to have in his life, which was not a lot. Eventually, I wrote him off for good when he called me on my twenty-first birthday and asked me for a favor on behalf of my half-sister. He didn’t know it was my birthday. It was the final lit match that burned down any chance of a right relationship with my dad. Five years passed and I never spoke a word to him or about him. He was dead to me.
When I was twenty-six and a brand-new mother, a co-worker randomly asked me one day if my father knew he had a granddaughter. My huffed, grumbled, and dishonorable reply fell deaf on her and she encouraged me to call him and let him know. Her admonishment stirred something in me and I relented. It took a while to track down a man who was on his fourth marriage and living in a new town. He called me on a Sunday and we had the most wonderful conversation. We laughed and cried and declared the past the past and all new days ahead. We were reconciled with plans to get together soon. It was a satisfying moment and an amazing gift that would be quickly realized.
The very next day, I was sitting in my office when the phone rang with the news my father had passed away that morning from a massive heart attack. Just like that, he was forever gone and every time I had wished he was dead stabbed my heart again and again. I was grateful for the words we were able to speak on Sunday. I will treasure that conversation for the rest of my days. Time never healed my wounds. Forgiveness and reconciliation did.
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:14-15