By Sherrie St. Hilaire
Baby fat still lays claim to her four-year-old face so when she sits beside me emoting like a head-snapping teenager, her expressions and syntax exaggerated as they are, it’s hard to keep a proportionate smile on my face. It’s difficult not to laugh outright, grab her in my grandma-flabby arms and kiss the baby-ness that I desperately want to linger just a little while longer.
She gets frustrated now when I don’t stay in character, when we’re supposed to be two BFF’s sharing coffee (hot chocolate for her)—bistro-esque at the kitchen table. I had better not slip into gramma-mode and ruin it all. That is easier said than told, as her older brother misquotes.
Aside from the antics borrowed from her next decade, she has an adorable speech pattern that makes the contradiction all the more colorful. She transposes the sound of sp into the sound of f. Do you like my farkly shoes, aren’t they fecial?
We sat on my couch that winter-gray afternoon. I was doing my best Oh-Girl-You’ve-Got-To-Be-Kidding-Me while she animatedly shared an incident that happened at preschool.
With body language characteristic of an adolescent miming absurdity, she proceeded to tell me that when the teacher passed out morning snacks she said grassy-ass. “I said ‘grassy-ass’ to Miss Kelly because it means ‘thank you’ in Fanish.” She offered a weighty pause, allowing me time to be impressed with her dual language skills. “But all the kids just laughed at me,” she continued. I stayed in character and offered a script-obliging Oh my goodness!
“I didn’t cry though,” she proceeded and explained how she tried once again to bring her pre-school peers into the know. “I told them that grassy-ass really, really does mean thank you in Fanish. But they kept laughing. Then Jackson said that I was saying fuh-fuh-fanish,”She emphasized the fuh sound a few times to distinguish the supposed difference. She scrunched her soft face, pursed her lips, raised her eyebrows and shook her head. “But I didn’t say that at all; I said fanish.”
She couldn’t make them understand so she ended her appeal and topped her encounter with a generous dollop of grace. “They didn’t understand…so I just walked away.”
My precious granddaughter paused thoughtfully then concluded her narrative with a crinkled nose, pulled cheek and shoulder-shrug, “Sometimes you just have to walk away.”
Yes, sometimes the only recourse left in a misunderstanding is to walk away.
Sadly, I find myself in a relationship that has been peppered with misunderstanding, hurt and avoidance. I recognize some of the fuel that keeps this relationship inflamed: fear, intimidation, personality differences, past experiences, past relationships, insecurity and broken trust.
It’s so painful when hopeful attempts to reason it out with someone you care about results in more distance; when those trembling efforts toward reconciliation only drive the wedge deeper.
The bible says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil authorities in the unseen world….” Eph. 6:12 Is the enemy at work in our situation? Definitely. Has he taken full advantage of the foothold he’s been given? Oh, yes! Yet, biblical examples reveal incompatibility among believers that warranted a parting of company. A separation. A walking away.
There are varying degrees of “walking away.” Sometimes the separation lasts for a season—a period of time to allow for a relational re-set. This is my ardent prayer for our situation. It’s when time is given to reflect, to recognize our part in the schism, and to repent—both to God and to the other.
That period ends, in a healthy way, when realization dawns that the loss of the relationship is too great a sacrifice for avoiding the cost of reconciliation.
And there is a cost to reconciliation!
Reconciliation always includes forgiveness, which is, more times than not, a continual decision rather than a one-time event. Sometimes the forgiveness process lasts years, even decades. But forgivingness is only half the cost of reconciliation.
Trust is the second, weightier component of reconciliation. It goes against our natural inclination toward self-protection; to foster a willingness to trust, especially in the wake of deep hurt, betrayal or rejection is vulnerable and counter intuitive.
Forgiveness + Trust = Reconciliation.
The cost of reconciliation is exponential, depending on how wounded the heart or extensive the damage. Pride and our sense of personal righteousness usually provide the greatest hindrance to patching it up with the other.
We are on our third standoff. Though the others have been extremely difficult, this time it is particularly difficult because it appears we may not be able to reconcile, at least for a while.
What recourse is left for the relationship that is broken, seemingly beyond repair? What does it look like when the need for separation is the only road to peace?
Our solo attempts at understanding were getting us nowhere. I’d been praying for God to move on our hearts and lead us out of this hole.
Misunderstandings, misrepresentations and accusations based in part upon emotional perception have hindered our attempts to bridge the gulf between us or come to understanding.
Where from here? That answer is always To the throne of God.
The bible instructs us to seek peace and pursue it. The largest part of “rightness” with others is a commitment to walk in peace.
- Peace can come, in part, from silent acceptance: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…
- Peace always comes as a result of forgiveness—both given and received.
- Peace softens the heart and keeps it pliable, teachable and lead-able.
When it is necessary to walk away, I must do so honoring the God-given dignity of the other. And of myself. I have to posture my heart in repentance and receive the grace for my shortcomings as well as theirs—no judgment announced, no blame assigned. The person and the situation I continually bring before God to store in a sacred vault of grace.
It’s been often said that Hurt people hurt people. Where life has landed great wounds to our souls we wrestle with a residual limp. And though we want our lives to be measured by how far we’ve come, we often feel measured, and measure others, by the distance yet to go.
If you have to walk away, do it in love and forgiveness and grace!
My name is Sherrie St. Hilaire, COG, MOA. You may not recognize my credentials. They were obtained through forty-four years of walking with Jesus through dark nights, dry deserts, and deep sorrows; and sometimes through hell itself. What God has taught me He has asked me to share. I love to meet women at their point of need and encourage them through life’s hard places. I openly share my life to the glory of God. I hope you’ll find my words and blog to be a hospitable place to rest your travel-wearied soul. My hope is to lay down grace-words that offer hope, kindle encouragement, provide comfort and ultimately glorify God. I am a wife, mother, grandmother, child of God (CoG) and minister of availability (MoA)—I am humbly and gratefully His! You can find more blogs from Sherrie, on her blog Grace Grips.
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