Who are you avoiding?

One more conversation

It’s raining, so we stay inside.

We wait for others to trickle into Manna House on the first Saturday morning of each month for Outdoor Church.

Walter’s feet hurt. He pulls up a folding chair, and I sit in one nearby. We’ve known each other for over three years now, but much of his life is still a mystery to me.

I ask him if he has children. Yes, he says. But he doesn’t see them much, even though they live fairly close. He’s tried calling—over and over—but they rarely want to talk.

Walter doesn’t have a car so he can’t drive to their homes (although he is quite proud of his bicycle).

Although I lack details, I assume his past damaged his relationship with the kids, the family.

I didn’t know him back then. I don’t know if he was a good father, a bad father, or even a father at all to his kids when they were growing up.

All I know is now.

And what I see now is a dad who wants to talk to his children.

I wish we all could talk to each other.

We probably all have silent relationships somewhere. Relationships that perhaps once were full. Close. Caring.

But through time or distance or weakness or pride or circumstances, the conversations either gradually faded away or abruptly stopped all at once.

The silence that remains reaches deep. The avoidance weighs heavy.

I wonder if death will take Walter before he can reunite with his kids. I pray not. I hope he still has enough years left—and that his kids have enough heart left—to repair their broken relationship.

Because all relationships—even cracked ones, even ones separated by death—are eternal.

  • Who aren’t we talking to while we still have breath?
  • Who do we need to forgive?
  • Who do we need to ask forgiveness from?

Do we have it in us to say hello?

“If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody” (Romans 12:18, The Message).

If we could have one more conversation with the person we’re avoiding, what would we say?
Can we try?
Will we?

[Click here if you can’t see the Adele video, “Hello”]

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Do you have a relationship you’d like to repair before it’s too late? Please share in the comments.

More to read:

42 thoughts on “Who are you avoiding?

  1. Bill (cycleguy)

    That would be my dad. He has avoided close contact to me and my brothers for over 40 years (when he left mom). But now at 88, suffering with dementia, he comes and goes. I visited him about a month ago and he didn’t remember me or Jo or my girls. Sad to have waited so long.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      What a gift that you visit your dad even now, Bill. Even though he doesn’t remember you, you’re still honoring him. That is moving. I pray you receive blessings from your actions and intentions!

  2. blankMary

    Lisa, you ALWAYS make me think. This reminder is timely, not because I have a relationship I need to repair, but just to remind me that you never know when things might change and I might not have another opportunity to talk with someone.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Mary. I couldn’t really think of anyone I need to reconcile with at the moment either, but I know there has been in the past, and there will be in the future so I need to keep the doors open at all times.

  3. blankTC Avey

    Thought provoking, Lisa.
    Yes, I have a relationship that has ended in silence. It’s one I’ve prayed about a few times and reached out to the person more than once but our lost friendship still bothers me. Your post has given me much to think about…maybe I should reach out again?
    Thank you.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Only for you to decide, TC. After doing all we can, sometimes all that’s left besides praying is resting in the peace that it’s now up to the Lord to move. I do pray that your friend will be reconciled with you one day, and bring peace to her/him as well. Let me know what happens if you do reach out again!

  4. blankbluecottonmemory

    I’m glad that he tries to call them – that is something my dad never did. Reaching makes all the difference. Sadly, some don’t have a happy reunion, “I-love-you-baby” ending – sometimes healthy boundaries don’t allow that. It’s hard, too – when the reaching is one sided. I hope you’re friend and his family both reach!

      1. blankLisaNotes Post author

        I agree, Kelly—relationships are definitely complicated. Every one. There’s no one “right” road that any of them follow. Grateful for grace to help us navigate the best paths for each one individually.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      You’re right that often there isn’t a happy reunion even at the end; it does take two to reconcile and we can’t control anyone else (and often not even ourselves, truth be told). We can only do so much from one side. I’m sorry your dad didn’t reach out. 🙁 I can’t imagine the pain of that. But what a turnaround you’ve made with loving your own children despite not having your dad be a good example for you. The grace of God….

  5. blankSharon

    A sad, but so convicting, story. In the last few years of my dad’s life, I did kinda avoid him. I’d visit and talk to him, but always made sure that the visits were short. Granted, his dementia had made him an angry and sometimes hurtful person. That was hard to take, as was his inability to remember who I was. I guess I avoided him to guard my heart from being hurt so bad. But, when he fell and landed in the hospital, the Lord gave me the chance to make things better, as I was with him every day, and was able to talk to him and feed him and comfort him. Little did I know that these were the last 10 days I would have with him on this earth. Less than 48 hours before he died, I was called by the nursing/rehab facility late one night, and informed that he was awake and belligerent, and could I please come over to try and calm him down. I did that, and the last moments I had with my dad were me stroking his forehead and eyebrows, helping him go back to sleep, and telling him that I was there. God was kind to give me this healing second-chance time with Dad.

    It serves as a good reminder that time is short, and we never know when our *last chance* to mend fences with someone will come. There is never a better time than today to broach a broken bridge, and to make every attempt to reconcile and restore a relationship.

    I hope Walter has his moment.

    Always so thought-provoking, Lisa. Thank you.

    GOD BLESS.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Oh, Sharon. Your story touches me. I know it will touch others too. I’m glad that the Lord gave you that opportunity to spend the last 10 days of your dad’s life with him, even though each day must have had such difficulty of its own. I can imagine your dad getting to heaven and smiling about how loved he was by his daughter! Thank you for sharing this here.

  6. blankMichele Morin

    I’ve always told my boys that they should try to live their lives, as much as possible, to avoid having regrets. I speak from experience, and am trusting for grace, going forward, to guard relationships carefully for this very thing.
    Blessings, Lisa!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Good advice for your boys, and for all of us, Michele. We won’t ever regret doing the loving things, but we often do regret the opposite. It’s just sometimes hard to know which is which…. Grace, yes, grace please in abundance.

  7. blankJune

    This post speaks volumes about someone I love whose made choices of silence in his life. Sometimes, all you an do is pray that the Holy Spirit will convict them – will show them the right path. I hold tight to the knowledge that God loves each of the people involved very much – and I stay hopeful that He will redeem the entire situation before any of them pass from this life to the next. Thank you for these words, Lisa, they’ve reminded me to continue to pray and pray hard for this situation. Blessings!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      My heart hurts for you in this, June. Yes, may the Lord grant you strength and perseverance to continue praying for this person to break the silence. That’s a powerful action for you to take and words for you to speak.

  8. blankDavid

    Phew! I was fearing an accusation (“have I been avoiding He Who cannot be avoided!?”) – guilty conscience.

    My mother and my wife did not get on at all, so after I moved in with my wife I hardly saw my mother, and my mother rarely saw her grandson. She died six weeks after being diagnosed with cancer, a couple of years ago.

    David

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad you didn’t get the wagging finger you were expecting.

      But I’m sorry about what happened with your mother. Such a difficult situation, and then to have her be gone so quickly after a diagnosis. Death does separate us from having that “one more” conversation in person in this life. I do look forward to afterlife discussions though with no tensions or baggage in the direct presence of God.

  9. blankDianna

    Thank you for this post, Lisa. There are some relationships in my life right now that I have to ask God for grace to love and give of myself in them. Reading here has made me realize the necessity of not closing any doors.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Keeping doors open—that’s a good practice for us all to remember, Dianna. I know you will receive the grace to love and give to your loved one. It’s who you are, and Whose you are.

  10. blankMary Geisen

    I love the truth in these words… “Because all relationships—even cracked ones, even ones separated by death—are eternal.” That is a great perspective to look at relationships through so we do not hesitate to fix any that are broken. Thank you for these words. They speak to me in a way that I needed this morning. Blessings!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad the words spoke to you in some way, Mary. I find that I take relationships more seriously when I understand that they’re forever, even though in this life they may seem to just be here for a season. Once we know each other, we know each other. 🙂

  11. blankRebecca

    What a powerful message. Years ago I helped raise my little brother when my mom went back to work. We were close and I often took him with me when I went places but one day I was in a hurry to pack to leave after work for a trip and left the house in a rush. Later that day my brother was struck and killed in front of our house. I never said goodby to him that morning and now I never can – I always say I love you to all those I love now because you never know when it will be too late. Thanks for sharing.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Oh, Rebecca. I’m so sorry about that tragic loss of your brother. I can’t imagine how that has influenced your life through the years. Thank you for sharing how it encourages you even now to say I love you often; we all need to be reminded to always say it and to hear it when others say it to us. I appreciate you sharing this here.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for your prayers, Dolly. I’ll ask Walter next time I see him if he’s had any more contact with his kids. I’d love to hear an affirmative answer that the situation is improving. God still does miracles….

  12. blankfloyd

    “Gulp”… I wish you’d stop needling me, Lisa! Just kidding… although God did use you to needle me… or speak to my heart. I’ve got some talking and reconciling to do… Thanks for your heart and obedience.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      If we don’t all have someone to reconcile with now, we have in the past, and will in the future. It seems to be part of the human condition. And I promise I’m not needling. 🙂

  13. blankkristen

    One person comes to mind when I think of your question. I just decided that her continual judgement was too much for me so I cut off the relationship. We don’t live in the same state so it wasn’t really very hard and I have no interest in repairing the relationship.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Good for you in knowing when it was time to walk away. There are toxic relationships that cause more harm than good. Maybe one day this person will turn it around and drop the judgmentalism and that could change everything again.

  14. blankJean Wise

    Relationship can be so hurtful and sometimes we do the hurting and never know it either. Such anger, bitterness and grief too often in families. I know several families who don’t speak to one another and they can’t even tell you how it began. makes me sad and I bet God sad too. forgiveness, finding the good in the other, trying to reach out even though it hurts – all easier said than done but needed. Lots to mull over in your words, Lisa. you got me thinking….

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      You bring up a good point, Jean–sometimes (oftentimes?) WE are the ones doing the hurting, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and we are the ones who need to ask forgiveness. And yes, it’s especially sad when people can’t even remember why they don’t like each other anymore; they just know they don’t.

      Lord, have mercy on all of us to humble ourselves more often, whether we think we were wronged or in the wrong.

  15. blankDeanna

    Wow Lisa! -that was beautifully written. Unfortunately, reconciliation/restoration doesn’t come easy…it takes two in order for that to happen. Forgiveness is an entirely different story, that only takes one. But wow…forgiving can be difficult. I struggle with it, and actually I have questioned whether or not we really are commanded to forgive regardless if the other person has repented or not. I don’t know fully where I stand on that.

    Hello is one of my favorite songs. It makes me weepy almost every time I listen to it and yet I am drawn to listen to it on a loop. Adele has a beautiful, passionate and emotional/meaningful voice.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      You’re right, Deanna, that it takes two to reconcile. One person can cause a break-up, but it takes two to bring it back together. That’s one reason I appreciate Romans 12:18 so much:

      “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

      The “if possible” sets us free from carrying guilt for reconciliations that we can’t force to happen on our own.

      One of the hardest parts for me about forgiveness is trying to forgive (of sorts) *systems* of injustice—institutions and cultural opinions that we can’t put a single face to, but that we know have done people wrong. Forgiveness is definitely one of the most difficult things to work out.

      Adele’s voice moves me every time too. Such amazing strength!

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