My Broken Fence
I was a rebellious teenager. Ultimately, it negatively impacted my relationship with my father.
No matter where I was or as well as my life was going, I knew nothing would ever feel right until that fence was mended.
It is important to note that his door was never closed to me and my door was never closed to him. We simply lacked the closeness that we deserved, which leads me to my next point…
My father is a great man. He has always loved me. He never raised a hand to me and always offered me grace. I did not feel deserving of such grace and that deep-seated sense of worthlessness blocked me from the relationship we both craved.
Not all relationships are worth mending, though. Some people, despite their best intentions, are relentlessly damaging to your spirit.
If you cannot decide who to let go of, I recommend making a list of pros and cons.
The cons against mending a relationship can be 12 pages long, but the pros are your guide. If you have 10,000 reasons not to mend a fence and the one pro on your list is that reconciliation will lead to happiness, you must try to mend the fence.
A Fabulous Story
Many years ago, I was talking with a friend about my father and she asked me a profound question. “What if your sole focus was on the kind of daughter you could be. What are you willing to do to be a good daughter?” My answer was swift. ANYTHING.
She told me a story of a woman who had a far, far worse situation with her father than I did with mine. This woman had stolen from her father and began writing weekly letters to him and enclosing cash. He did not respond. She KEPT WRITING anyway.
Years passed and one day, she got a letter from her father that said, “Stop sending the money, but keep those letters coming.” Insert tears of joy here!
He heard her message in every letter. It took time for him to trust her and her commitment. His silence may have swayed some, but she was willing to do anything to mend that fence.
How to Begin Mending the Fence
1. Offer Grace and Acceptance
This is an absolute must. No progress can be made until you accept the other person as they are.
Do this even if the other person has yet to do it for you. Put your feelings on a temporary shelf and LET LOVE OUT. Offering forgiveness and acceptance is incredibly powerful. It can blow a door wide open, but healing won’t begin until someone puts the first foot forward.
Why be vulnerable in this way? Everyone deserves to be loved for who they are…not for who we want them to be. If you want this for yourself, you have to be willing to offer it to others.
2. Let Your Resentments GO
Don’t let hurt feelings or untruths block you from the right people. People commonly convince themselves of things that are not true.
Stop overcomplicating every word or action and assuming you are a fortune teller.
The other person has a side, a voice, and feelings. Don’t assume you know what those are.
3. Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Stop obsessing about your own feelings. Take a step back, remove yourself from the equation, and look at the world through the eyes of the other person.
If you do this correctly, you WILL understand the other person better. If you do this courageously, you will see how YOU influenced every missed connection in your relationship.
If you do this honestly, the resentments you put on a temporary shelf may go up in smoke! POOF.
4. Commit to Forging a Connection
I chose to write to my father. I told him about my life, I asked for advice, I told him of my successes and failures. I sent email after email and luckily never had to wait to hear back from him.
What ensued was incredible. He rooted me on, gave me the advice I asked for, felt the respect I offered him, and let the news that I understood his perspective sink into his soul.
Not everyone will respond with the expediency of my father. I have mended many fences and they all have different trajectories. The common thread is that each has helped me grow and heal.
5. Be Honest
It took me a long time to realize my feelings were valid. It took me longer to understand that when I didn’t share them, I did every relationship I had a disservice.
People aren’t mind readers. If you feel hurt, say something. If you feel proud of someone, say something. Every emotion you hide from the world is a lost opportunity to be loved for exactly who you are.
If you are honest and are not met with respect, always remember that you can reevaluate what fences you choose to mend and which aren’t worth the effort.
6. Trying is Never a Waste of Time
Not every relationship can be healed. You may try and mend a fence that can’t be fixed. I certainly have.
Even if I get hurt in the end, I never regret the effort. Offering unconditional acceptance, forgiveness, and love is NEVER a mistake, regardless of the outcome.
Being the bigger person has never killed anyone. It actually is its own reward.
Go Forth with Courage
Pick the fences you want to mend and TAKE ACTION. Miracles can and do occur when we choose love and positive intention.
Life is too short to wait for an important relationship to miraculously heal itself.
My father and I are on solid ground and have been for many years now. Whenever I have a new fence to mend, I think about how I got EVERYTHING from repairing that most important one.
Be brave with your heart! You deserve all that comes along with that!