I know a married couple who fight all the time. Not only do they fight frequently, but their ritual of post-fight silent-treatment holds true almost every time. That is how they act after a fight: they ignore and avoid the other person. They do this, until the silence gets so heavy that one of them breaks. This occurs usually after a few days. I can think of only a few worse ways to treat another person than to withhold love, affection, and attention from them.
I know exactly how they feel in those moments of silent-treatment, because I used to be that type of person too. If I felt wronged, I would also turn into myself, withholding myself from the person I was mad at, trying to punish them.
Heavy, like there is a tight chain around the heart.
Stressed, incase they see the other person. Trying to tiptoe around in avoidance. It’s stressful, because the human response is to go out and love, but the chains hold them back, and keep their mouths clamped shut and hands by their sides.
Angry and self-righteous, because they keep replaying the transgression, convinced that the other person is in the wrong.
Prideful, because they don’t want to be the first person to break their self-inflicted prison sentence.
Sad, because days on end without speaking, touching, smiling, is the most depressing thing in the world.
Trapped, because how can they ever end this vicious cycle?
To me, it is so clear how they can fix their problem. After a fight, don’t leave. Stay right there and keep talking. Keep talking and talking and talking until things figure themselves out and you can love each other enough to kiss and make up.
If they were my kids, I would force them to say sorry, hug, and then go play together.
But they aren’t my kids. They are grown adults who have to make their own decisions.
Lord, I can look outward only as far as I can look in. You saw how damaging that was for my soul and so you released me from that type of behavior. Please keep reminding me of how you have redeemed me. Of how great your love is for me. Of how far you have removed my transgressions from me. Instead of hiding your face and being silent, you took my sins away, far far away, and pulled me in to tell me how much you love me. To tell me that I am cherished. Beloved. Beautiful. You can’t stand to be separated from me. Thank you for showing me how to love and how to forgive. Please keep showing me how to do that to others. Teach me to be kind and merciful to them as you have been kind and merciful to me.
And please Lord, help that couple and others who struggle in the same way. Please fill their hearts with so much love that it can’t help but overflow into their words and actions. Please teach them how to communicate. Teach them how to appreciate. How to forgive. How to forget. Amen.