I did finish Relationships a Mess Worth Making, by Tim Lane and Paul Tripp, and decided in conclusion, re the difficult situation that I alluded to, that what I need to do is nothing at all. See my way has well and truly “blown up in my face” many times, and I need to give up on my own attempts and leave it to God. And as they say in the book “the vertical aspect of forgiveness is never optional, but [you] can’t single-handedly bring about reconciliation”. There are only so many ways and times you can ask a person if they are willing to have a conversation, and I have tried them all, repeatedly. The last time I exchanged words with the person in question they said “I don’t want to talk about it”, and they haven’t clearly communicated anything to the contrary to me since, and the situation is now such that unless I get an unambiguous yes that they are willing to have a conversation, I simply can’t do anything, and can’t trust that they want me to. All of my trust has proved ill-founded in the past, and I’d be foolish to put any trust in the same things again (and have removed those things that were giving me false reasons to trust so as not to be fooled again). The sad thing is that sometimes I feel that this person behaves the way they do because they don’t actually trust me (which I have tried and tried to fix, only to make it worse), but ultimately that means that I can’t trust them either – because I don’t know what they are going to do out of their mistrust and their reactions are unpredictable, usually hurtful and often damaging.
It’s one of those relational dynamics that became apparent in Lila, by Marilynne Robinson. Because Lila, at least initially, didn’t trust John Ames, or believe in who he was and that he cared for her, she kept hurting and frightening him. Added to that, her assumption that what she said or did didn’t matter to, or affect, others meant that she often hurt those others. The same was true in Coal Creek by Alex Miller: because Daniel, the sheriff, didn’t trust the stockmen, he literally shot at them and caused a whole world of damage. Of course they couldn’t trust him either, because they didn’t know what sort of ill-judged move he was going to make next, and because he was in the position of authority it was him who was believed, and it was always going to go badly for the stockmen.
And so, unless this person is willing to communicate to me that they will have a conversation, then I need to stay well away. And I think I can rest knowing that I did everything that was humanely possible towards a restoration. As Lane and Tripp write “at some point, every relationship brings you to the end of yourself, and with God there is no healthier place to be”. I might actually be there.