Time heals all wounds.
Does anybody actually believe that?
I remember when I was playing baseball in college. My collegiate athletic career consisted of practicing hard and getting myself prepared for that big spot where I could pinch-run late in the game for the guy who just doubled in the tying run. Some guys would be hesitant to dive around in practice but not a guy who was desperate for playing time. No sir, every drill was a chance to show improvement, skill and determination in hopes to crack a spot in the lineup. One dive I remember in particular not necessarily because I made a great play but because I managed to get about half of the infield dirt lodged into the side of my stomach. Looking back this seems a whole lot more painful but then I was a 19-year-old looking for playing time.
And so I did what any 19-year-old boy would do about the potentially infectious situation. I did my best to scrub out the dust and rocks out of my person the next couple of times I took a shower. Seems simple enough, right? Well, for any 19-year-old boys who happen upon this story, the simple answers are not always the correct ones. The wound became very painful over the proceeding week, in fact painful enough to drive me to the athletic trainer for a hand.
I’ll never forget Tim the trainer’s reaction when I showed him my battle-scar.
What the hell did you do to yourself? Why didn’t you come in that day, are you crazy?
These were not the words I was longing to hear but they did teach me a lesson that has managed to stick. Time does not heal all wounds. In fact, unattended wounds have a way of infecting the entire body. Who knew you could learn this much from baseball?
Fathers, Sons, Healing and Time
Not to change the subject, but do you remember the great Detroit Tigers slugger Cecil Fielder? He was the size of an airplane and could hit the ball a mile. He hit 319 home runs in the big leagues, which is precisely 319 more home runs than you or I will ever hit against the best pitchers in the world. In his heyday Cecil was the most feared hitter in the game but perhaps his largest contribution lately has been his slugging son named Prince (by the way, naming your son Prince is perhaps the only way to raise the bar on George Foreman’s child-naming philosophy). This past week Prince has been on a tear with eight home runs but something else caught my attention this morning as I watched the highlights. Today I learned that Prince and Cecil are not on speaking terms.
This feud has apparently been raging since even before Prince’s rise to the top of the game’s elite players. Cecil’s gambling addiction cost him his marriage, some 45 million dollars, his relationship with his daughter Ceclynn (paging Mr. Forman once again) and, apparently, his relationship with the heir to his self-proclaimed throne. The father-son falling out has plenty of sordid unsubstantiated explanations attached but as I read the story, Cecil’s words broke my heart. One phrase stuck out:
At some point (the relationship) will mend itself.
No, Cecil, it will not.
Cecil is denying the obvious truth that I learned in the trainer’s room that day. Time does not heal wounds. It only makes them worse. Sure, we may become accustomed to the pain and it could even “heal itself” as new skin grows over the old wound but there is no real healing inherent in leaving a wound alone. The distance that has come between Prince and Cecil will not close up as long as both parties stand at a distance and wait for the other to take the first step. And this all seems so simple as long as we ignore the fact that we do the exact same thing every day.
The Problem with Peace
I cannot speak for you but I know that I would much rather achieve silence than peace. Real peace is just really hard to achieve. We have to be honest with each other. We have to risk rejection. We have to risk the other feeling bad or rejected. We have to risk admitting wrong. We have to risk a true friend feeling convicted of being wrong. On paper this is no big deal but when the rubber meets the road we hesitate. Maybe our wounds are not worth sharing with our friend, particularly if they have had a hand in causing them.
Or perhaps the one we are at odds with is not available to make amends with. I certainly know if I were in Prince’s place I would have an extremely difficult time simply making peace with the hurtful things my dad said let alone approaching him with the goal of reconciliation. Some of my closet friends have similarly wrecked relationships with dad, mom, an ex-spouse or former friend and their attempts to reconcile face-to-face are futile at best and further damaging at worst. The reality of life is that there are some among us who will continue to refuse reconciliation even till their dying breath and efforts to heal broken relationships with them will only end in more rejection and new bitterness. There is wisdom to letting “bygones be bygones” in a sense for the sake of our own health but the question remains: how do we love those who are content to let “time heal all wounds” that they have caused to us?
You will hate me for saying this, but we love these people just the same as we love those who have stayed close by us in troubled times- we pray. Consider Bonhoeffer’s explanation:
Love…will respect the line that has been drawn between him and us by Christ, and it will find full fellowship with him in the Christ who binds us together. Thus this spiritual love will speak to Christ about a brother more than to a brother about Christ. It knows that the most direct way to others is always through prayer to Christ and that love of others is wholly dependent upon the truth in Christ.
Time will not heal our wounds- we need a physician for that. Let’s be wise and go to him for help in our time of need and healing in his time. He promises to give grace and mercy in our troubled times. His promises are true.