‘Reconciliation’ comes from re-and concilium; concilium, which is an assembly or meeting, has something like ‘calling together’ as its root meaning. But the Latin word for ‘eyelashes’ is ‘cilia’, so you could also pretend that the word should be divided as re-con-cilia-[a]tion. Or in other words, putting eyelashes back together.
It’s the end of a fight. White flags are flying high. We are done with the tearing-each-other-apart phase. Done with the arguing-over-nothing phase. Done with the mean words and sarcastic phrases. Done throwing our sharpened daggers that will stab the other person in the throat, (or the heart if you have good aim.) We have laid down our weapons. We are done being dicks.
This stage usually comes when we’ve depleted the running list of things we’ve been holding against each other. We have rehashed every single moment and word and detail surrounding the “event” that led to this fight. We have looked at the issue from every angle, we have assigned blame, we have raised our voice and rolled our eyes.
We have not been gentle with each other. Not even close.
We are both exhausted at this point. Tired hearts, tired minds, tired souls. If we didn’t have two small children, I could probably keep going for another hour, maybe three. But we need sleep and the fight is so boring and there are no new arguments to present, so we stop.
Our hearts are cold towards each other. Our hearts are cold towards everything. We both lay silently on the same couch, sharing the same breath, minds a million miles away, dreaming of another time, wondering if this was how our parents felt when they were falling out of love.
But something changes in him. Something moves him. He ends our cruel silent game. He moves in towards me. He takes a step towards my eyelashes.
I could be fine to sit and lay with the ick for another 3 hours, he will not.
I could sleep bitterly on opposite sides of the bed, on the couch, on the floor, he moves in closer, lifts my chin, makes eye contact.
This movement feels surprising and foreign to me. I’m not familiar with this game and I’m angry.
Angry because I’m still tired and I need sleep, oh please let me sleep. Angry because we technically never resolved this fight, and I’m not a quitter. Angry because being angry is a Shawna Problem, and I’ll get to that when I’m good and ready and when I can afford therapy, thank you very much. Angry because… why is he so good at this?
He’s overflowing with the stuff. He’s made of it. He’s swimming in it. Forgiveness pours freely from his mouth like it’s his native tongue. He’s familiar with the arena and knows the layout so well, he doesn’t stumble. He moves swiftly and bravely towards me- like he was born to do this.
Naturally, I’m annoyed, because a.) I don’t trust runners, and b.) remember that he-said-she-said thing we were beating against the wall over there? I’m not sure I’m ready to let go of that, sweetie.
On he goes, owning his slice of the pie, taking responsibility for the problem… blah blah blah blah blah.
He won’t stop. He’s apologizing and reminding me again and again of our story, of who we are and where we are going, of who we hope to be. The whole time he is out on the battlefield, professing his love, speaking of my strong character, admiring my blue eyes, I am shrunk away. I do not play this reconciling game. I do not know how. I tuck in. I make myself small. I feel my heart softening, swelling, beating faster, but I remain silent. I smile politely, nod when I need to, weakly mumble love you and me too, keeping my words short and sweet and captive. Giving him enough, giving him nothing at all.
Simultaneously I am screaming. I live in a cage and just missed the chance to escape. The ship is going down and I am watching the last lifeboat float away. I was so close and I missed it. I could have been a Reconciler. I could have walked in forgiveness and courage and grace. I could have soaked him up and laughed in joy. I could have participated in the process or at least I could have tried.
Instead, I am locked up and chained down to my pride. I am tangled and broken and collapsed under my anger. I can’t speak up, I can’t speak out, I can’t speak at all. I have a horrible and diseased heart, I know it.
We walk upstairs, in peace. He is satisfied with even my small efforts, no matter how forced or fake they may seem. Our eyelashes touch in bed for a few precious moments, and I cry because I am so grateful that he sees past my dead parts. I am alive in there somewhere, and he knows that. He moves towards me. He is a Reconciler. I’m not sure if I will ever learn his art. I’m not sure if the slave inside me will ever sing his freedom song. But this is today’s cross to bear. To be gentle and patient with this tiny, fearful, broken heart. She is there. She is alive. She is beating and surviving and waiting for rescue from the only One who can. Until then, I beg my love, do not give up on me. I’m in here, somewhere. I look dead on the outside but I can see the little heart that you love. Don’t let go. Don’t let go. Don’t let go.