There’s “that one topic” that no one wants to talk about, because it wreaks havoc on the family gathering, ministry meeting, or friendship. At some point, the topic came up, words were said, feelings were hurt, assumptions were made, and now it has become “that one topic.”
It’s like confidently walking or skating on ice, as if the ice is actually the ground, the foundation under your feet. It’s not. There’s water somewhere under the ice. Water that is likely moving, full of life…and dangerous. You don’t want to remember it’s there, because even the thought of it chills you to the bone. If you keep everything above the surface, no one gets hurt. Sure, someone might fall and get a bruise, there might be a slight conflict, but no one plummets into frigidity. To risk that seems like a death wish.
But it doesn’t go away. Some people won’t even inch out onto the ice, no matter how solid they think it is, because it’s not worth the risk. They’d rather stay on the shoreline and watch safely from a distance.
So, should you or shouldn’t you break through the ice?
It’s not an easy answer.
Yes, at some point, if you have an ongoing relationship with someone, you will need to break through. You’ll need to talk with someone about the topics that created a chasm, because it’s the only way to heal the chasm, but how can you do that? What happens when your brother makes a choice that you would never have made, and he knows you disapprove, so every time it (or any other conflict) comes up, he feels defensive and you feel judgmental? What happens when you do your best to expect the best from your adult child, but she repeats the same mistake over and over? Every time you even begin to talk to her about it, she shuts down and walks away. What happens when that mistake in your marriage gets brought up with any conflict even when there’s no connection whatsoever? What if no one is willing to talk about that family member who died and everyone misses but can’t push through the pain enough to remember together?
Relationships aren’t easy. Sometimes we want to stay on top of the ice because we’re scared of breaking through. Other times, we want to stay on top of the ice, because it’s the only opportunity we have to keep any kind of relationship with the person. It’s less about avoiding and more about maintaining with the hopes of restoring.
There’s no easy answer of what exactly you are supposed to say or do in your specific situation, but I know the direction that God wants us to always move toward: restoration. Sometimes we get to restore a relationship with a person, and sometimes our restoration focuses more on our relationship with God. Either way, we win. God wins. Because we honor Him through the process. We don’t try to figure it all out. We don’t try to avoid all conflict and pain. We don’t try to control all the details. Instead, we sit on the edge of our seats, ready to follow God wherever He leads us. We have our skates nearby. We also have a sledgehammer in case He leads us to break through the ice. In the meantime, we might have to wait for the ice to melt so we can wade through the water and meet someone halfway across the creek.
Have conversations as often as you can…especially with God.
Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:12)