I heard someone say, “Time will heal…if you have enough time.” That was a powerful thing to say to a person in her 7th decade of life.
Over the past 15 years of recovery, I have been nudged by my fellows to think seriously about my relationships. I am told that holding onto resentments is harmful. Humorously, I have been told, “Hanging on to resentment is like letting someone live in your head rent free.” They were right. And when I let go, I felt relief. It was like the apartment in my head had been cleaned out and someone opened the windows to let sunshine and fresh air in.
This was good advice for dealing with my anger toward others, but the fact is there are people in my life who are angry at me for harms I have done to them. I am also nudged by my fellows in recovery to make amends when I know I have harmed another, but this is not always easy. Sometimes it has been assumed that I harmed a person intentionally and no amount of denying or explaining will change their mind. I have to simply live with their judgment and condemnation. Sometimes I may tell a person I am sorry for hurting them but they simply won’t accept my apology either because they don’t believe in my sincerity or they just want to hang onto their resentment toward me. I guess they are letting me live rent free in their head.
I am disturbed, not just when there are hurts between myself and others, but also when relationships between people I care about are damaged. Watching relatives, friends, or even people I care about from a distance live in their anger or continue to hurt one another pains me greatly. I am told by my recovering fellows that I cannot do anything about these relationships. “Let go and let God”, they tell me. Pray the Serenity Prayer.
But this is difficult. I have been gifted with tools in my journey that, when put to use, give me direction and bring me serenity and joy. Because of them, I have been reunited with people that I once could not trust and now am developing meaningful, open and honest relationships. I would give anything to make these same gifts available to everyone, especially those I care deeply about.
I have been comforted over the years by the maxim, “Time heals all things.” Believing this has enabled me to trust that the God of my understanding will work things out among and between my loved ones if I only give him time to do his work. But my friend’s addendum to the maxim, “…if you have enough time,” is disconcerting. I think about Jesus facing his imminent death praying for those who still did not understand what his message was about. “Love one another,” he had told them and “Forgive even your enemies.” How sad it is that so many of his followers even to this day do not understand, or I should say, are not willing to do what he suggested.
I don’t know how much time I have left on this earth. I suppose I should be at peace with the idea of going to heaven where I probably won’t feel pain over the relationships I left behind. But I am still on this side and the pain is one I feel here and now. This I know to be true: with all the thinking and pondering I have done about the work of the divine among us, I still don’t understand. As for letting things go into the “hands” of God, well, I am still working on it.