Many of us have heard the adage time heals all wounds and have perhaps used it ourselves in conversations. As I meet with couples I have also noticed that many folks run away from discussing their problem thinking or assuming that with time the issue will go away.
Case Study One
Esau and Jacob were twin brothers who were different from each other. As young men, Jacob tricked their father (Isaac) into giving him the first born blessing instead of his brother Esau. Discovering his brother’s trick Esau vowed to kill his twin brother. Jacob took to his heels and lived away from home for more than fourteen years.
Now with two wives and children, he decided to return home, the only problem was that his brother Esau was still waiting to avenge what his brother did to him. It was fourteen years later that Jacob thought of asking God to intervene between his brother and himself and also to try and make amends.
The conclusion here is that fourteen years of Jacob being away did not heal the wound for either man (especially Esau); it took a belated apology and the grace of God for the situation to be saved.
Case Study Two
A husband commits adultery and a child came from the fling with another woman. The extended family on both sides got involved and they prevailed on the wife to accept the child and forgave the husband. Her attempt to talk the issue out with the husband was rebuffed by the extended elders who thought such explanations were not necessary.
At home she tried getting the full story of what happened out of him but he was not forth coming. For her there was a void was created and closure was difficult. It’s been ten years since the incident, both of them have moved on but there is no intimacy between both of them and they have accepted the lack of depth in their relationship as the new normal.
Why time does not just heal wound…
The Oxford English Dictionary defines time as “the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future, regarded as a whole.” The American Heritage Dictionary defines time as “a nonspatial linear continuum in which events occur in an apparently irreversible succession.” Encarta, Microsoft’s Digital Multimedia Encyclopedia, gives the definition of time as a “System of distinguishing events: a dimension that enables two identical events occurring at the same point in space to be distinguished, measured by the interval between the events.”
Some of the words used to define time explain why it does not heal wounds. Time is the continued progress of existence as put in motion by God, while time might smooth things over in its continuum (because the issue is out of sight and mind) it lacks the ingredient to heal wounds.
Ingredients that heals wounds
When our kids have physical wounds, especially open wounds we apply cleaning materials like Iodine or peroxide to clean the wound so it is not infected and the wound is covered with a band-aid again to protect it from infection and then time takes over and complete the healing process. The main ingredient for emotional healing is Repentance and it is being genuinely sorry for an act we commit. Repentance is in three parts.
1. Lord, I’m sorry
The first part of repentance is “Lord, I’m sorry” this is being sorry for the act rather than being sorry because I was caught. A husband or wife who has committed adultery for many years and all of a sudden got caught might be sorry only because he/she made a stupid mistake and got caught rather than being sorry for the act of adultery against God and his/her spouse. How sorry someone is depends on how the person confessed either willingly or coerced, does the person lay all the sin on the table or is still holding on to some facts, is the person submitting to help from others or scheming their own way out of the situation.
2. Lord, forgive me
The second part of repentance is asking for forgiveness. When King David sinned by committing adultery with Bathsheba and killing Uriah her husband, he went to God in prayer and sought forgiveness, according to the Bible, he rent his cloth (even as the king) and refused to eat supplicating before God. We are assured of the forgiveness of any sin (except sin against the Holy Spirit) when we ask God (1 John 1: 9). We also need to ask for forgiveness from the person we have offended, in Matthew 5: 23 Jesus commands us to go and make amends with an offender before bringing our offering to Him.
3. Lord, I won’t do it again
One of the hallmarks of true repentance is the individual’s commitment not to repeat the same sin over and over again. I have discovered in counseling with many people that when a husband or wife change their attitude because they believe in it and not because of the nagging of the other spouse or someone made them, such changes usually last forever.
The difference between King Saul and King David of Israel is that Saul repeated the same sin over and over again while David never repeated the same sin, but manages to always think of new ones, at the end Saul was rejected and David named the best king Israel ever had (David demonstrated what true repentance is).
Treating the wound so time can heal it better
When a wound is not treated time would do its work and skin would cover the wound, the only problem with that is, the wound won’t heal properly. In the best scenario an untreated wound that heals naturally will have “pores” and in worst scenario the wound could develop gangrene and the leg/arm or whatever part of the body affected would be amputated.
In the same way any marriage that is avoiding dealing with the wound or conflicts therein is at the risk of “amputation” which is divorce. Every marriage would have wounds, just like every kid would have open wounds growing up. Dealing with every marriage problem rather than sweeping the issue under the carpet or putting it on the shelf thinking it would go away with time is a terrible option.
When we have wounds, we put in some efforts to go see a physician or Dr. Mom takes care of it. Most of us have first aid kits at home (and extra pack of band-aids), the same way we have to recognize that we have emotional wounds and we need help to get rid of it. Keeping things inside (implosive personality) is actually very dangerous as the other party does not even know there is a wound. We all need to accept that there is a problem and learn how to share our hurts with our spouse in love rather than with accusatory tones.
When we recognize and accept the fact that we have wounds (emotionally) then we can start the healing process by repenting of whatever it is we have done to each other, seek forgiveness and make amends as necessary. When this happens such a wound would heal properly with time.
So in my opinion, “time heals all wounds that are treated and causes more problem for un-treated wounds”