I remembering telling someone once to stop saying sorry to me because they didn’t mean it. And I was tired of hearing it every day.
That simple, childhood realization was the first time I remember distinguishing between an apology and a repentant heart. I didn’t know what to call it. I just knew I was being lied to.
What do you do when someone repeatedly abuses you? Disregards you? Lies about you, brings you to tears, manipulates you?
It took me a REALLY long time to learn this. Because I so wanted to honor Jesus. And I so clung to hope that true change would occur. And every time my heart was broken I kept going back because I felt like I was giving up hope. Like if I didn’t have hope enough than there was no hope. Like God himself could not step in unless I was already there. And all the while I was dying inside…
This is absolutely the deepest and most painful lesson I have ever learned: that leaving is honoring to God when you shake the dust off your feet the way he says to.
There is actually a step by step guide to confronting conflict in the Bible. First, confront. If that doesn’t work, confront with other people beside you as witnesses. If that doesn’t work, bring the matter before the church. If there is still no repentance, then we are to treat them as an unbeliever.
And God is so faithful and near. He sends the most unlikely people to proclaim the truth. Like Jonah. Like Noah. Like Paul. And this is where I stumbled along the way…because for most of my life I thought I was that person. I thought I was the one who would say the right thing or do the right thing or be steadfast enough for long enough…that I would be enough to make my parents change.
And it’s so heartbreaking when it takes you all your whole life to realize that it has nothing to do with you. It doesn’t matter how much you cry and beg, or how to gage your responses or emotionally prep for days before you see them…try to prepare for every possible scenario, rehearse conversations in your head because there are certain topics that you just can’t talk about: like everything that matters to you.
It doesn’t matter how open you are with them. How honest. How many boundaries you set in place. BECAUSE YOU CANT MAKE SOMEONE CHANGE AND YOU’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO.
A hard heart might actually never change…
We are never to hate. But we are told to boldly confront injustice.
We are never to gossip. But we are told to proclaim the Gospel’s power in us.
So, what do you do when sorry isn’t enough? When there are words but no change? You confront, you confront, you confront, in love.
And if there is no change, you say goodbye…and you grieve and journey down a road of lament…and then you wait for the joy that comes as you heal.
That’s the trade…
Ashes for beauty…
Pain for joy…