“When you’re attempting to make amends, love people, and get your life straight, your relationships with them must have caring integrity.”
J. Keith Miller, A Hunger For Healing
I had a strong and immediate reaction to this quote when I first read it, a reaction created and driven by a dysfunctional relationship from my past. When I think about attempting to make amends to this person, to love him, and to get my life straight…it’s almost too difficult to contemplate.
I’ve been praying for several weeks for God to help me forgive this person, for Him to give me the strength and courage to make my amends. God did me one better and gave me a big “Aha!” moment by revealing to me what was really behind my resentments. You see, I’d been blinded by my resentments and his harms, and as a result I was unable to see past these surface-level issues.
Then it hit me: The real problem is the nature of our relationship, one based on my dependency and inferiority. The thought of ‘loving’ him as Miller describes above makes me feel like I will revert back to that dependent, inferior role. That is what I’m resentful about! That is why it’s been so hard for me to approach this amends! A healthy, rational part of me knows that to go back to that relationship would be bad for my recovery and bad for me as a person. What that healthy part of me didn’t realize until now is that I don’t have to go back just because I make amends! If anything, by making amends I will actively shed my dependency on this person. Instead of waiting for his command or hoping for his favor, I will be able to look him in the eye and clean up my side of the street without his direction or approval!
One other ‘lightning bolt’ hit me as I read Miller’s quote above: I should have relationships marked by “caring integrity”. However, my relationship with this person was not marked by caring integrity because I hid my true feeling about certain subjects to get his approval. He did not always get honest answers from me because I was afraid of angering or disappointing him; thus my behavior was not one of caring integrity. I could have disagreed as an adult and let him have his own feelings, but instead I tried to manipulate and control his feelings about me by controlling what parts of myself I let him see. One of the things I’m most sorry about is that I never let this person see the real me, only the false image I created for him.