Time Heals All Wounds …right?

You’ve probably heard it, and maybe you’ve even said it: “time heals all wounds”. Plenty of people have said it to me over the last couple of years. I guess they are saying that if you just leave something, the pain will eventually subside. Soldier on. Life goes on. People move on. Or whatever.

Maybe Lennon and McCartney were right. Sometimes, the best way to deal with a tough situation is to just let it be. Sometimes some of the hurts we carry just need to be left. It’s best for us. It’s best for others. In reality, there are some things that come our way that are not worth responding to. Laugh them off. Let ’em go through to the keeper. Forget about it.

I heard once about a conference speaker who had people throw balls to them while they were speaking. That was interesting enough. But what really caught my attention was that the speaker did nothing to catch the balls. They just bounced off, and rolled along the stage, out of sight. From from time to time, though, the speaker did catch one of the balls, and then used that occasion to speak specifically about a situation that had troubled them or hurt them. Meanwhile, other balls were thrown, and they continued to bounce off, and roll across the floor.

when things are thrown at you sometimes the best thing to do is to let it go

The speaker was making the point that she did not have to respond to everything that was thrown at her, and that she was quite intentional about what she would respond to, and when. Great lesson. And a reminder that when things are thrown at you sometimes the best thing to do is to let it go.

But there’s a part of “time heals all wounds” that bothers me, and which ultimately works against what God would have us do with our pain. While there are occasions where it’s best to let it go, there are other occasions where we should never let it go. A serious disagreement between two people? You should not let it go. A heated argument between a husband and wife? You should not just let it go. Growing resentment in a relationship? You should not just let that go.

Over the years there have been too many times when I have heard people say ‘time heals all wounds’ as an excuse not to do the very thing they needed to do. Then, ‘time heals all wounds’ was just a convenient and sometimes cowardly way to live in denial.

In a moment of anger a stressed husband makes a cutting remark to his wife, and she is hurt. The husband might think, “Well, I’ll just let it go. She’ll be OK in the morning, and she doesn’t understand the pressure I am under anyway.” The night passes, and in the morning he’s just pushing through but she’s still hurt. The wound is there, but time probably won’t heal it. If it’s left untreated, the natural reaction is resentment. To cover the hurt by not discussing work stress again. And so the dysfunction is multiplied. The wife is still hurt. The husband’s work stress remains a ‘no go’ area. In the end, it’s an area of the relationship which becomes closed. Have a few of them from time to time, and the relationship not only loses wonderful opportunities for growth, but it will start to wither in key areas.

Truth is, time only heals small wounds. Just leaving things alone, especially if they are big things, only increases the capacity for pain and dysfunction in the future. And it makes it easy to repeat the same mistakes down the track.

So, how can we tell the difference between an issue we can leave, and one which needs to be addressed? Is it possible to know which wounds time will not heal? That’s for next time…

Q: Does this resonate with you? Has the maxim ‘Time heals all wounds’ worked for you? Leave a comment to share your experience.

5 thoughts on “Time Heals All Wounds …right?

  1. Hi Dave

    These thoughts certainly resonate with me. I was brought up in an environment where confrontation was to be avoided at all costs. Life experiences and particularly since becoming a Christian, have taught me how unhealthy that is.

    To this day, I still retain the memories and feelings about an experience in high school where I was very hurt and betrayed by a person who was my best friend up until that point all the way from starting primary school. We never spoke again after that, and I still would love to know why he did what he did.

    In my first marriage, after arguments we would not talk for days afterwards, and even when talking resumed, the issue would not be discussed, to the point where the resentment built where being around each other let alone in a relationship was not possible.

    On the flipside, Christianity has also reinforced the need for grace and forgiveness. My father was not a good father, and I spent a lot of my life not liking him, but now feel we have a pretty healthy relationship with respect for each other. I came to a point where I thought the best release for the burden was to forgive, not forget, but give him grace and love. He’s mostly a different man to the person I remember, and although he doesn’t verbalise it, I do sense his love for his family.

    • Hey Phil,

      Thanks for your words. It’s a mystery, isn’t it, how relationships can change so suddenly and, it seems, permanently. I have a deep awareness that these unresolved tensions, these loose ends, are part of walking in the likeness of Jesus. God’s strength to you brother!

  2. I loved your story of the speaker and her response to the balls being tossed at her! You made a great life application of the story–but then you pointed out exceptions to the application. This was a wonderful blog post–well written and delivered. I am sure that the message helped many people in their thinking. It certainly helped me.

    ~Tim at http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/

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