Choose to Live Without Closure
Choices change our lives…
By Barbara Dahlgren
The psychological use of the word closure usually refers to experiencing an emotional conclusion to a difficult life event. Many want to be able to pinpoint this conclusion instead of feeling a sense of ambiguity, so they express the need for closure. This need for closure varies depending on personalities, but for many, not having the closure they think they need prevents them from having peace and moving on.
Unfortunately, we can’t always have closure – at least not the way we want it. Why? Because there are areas of our lives we cannot control. However, we can control whether or not we allow certain events to hold us captive for the rest of our lives. This makes a real difference in how we live our lives. Do we cope? Do we become bitter or better? Do we move forward?
Here are just a few examples of events beyond our control:
- Your twenty-year-old son dies in an unexpected car accident.
- Your mother always favored your brother over you.
- Someone breaks up with you and won’t tell you why.
- A friend has a grudge against you and won’t tell you what you’ve done to upset him.
You cannot bring a child back to life and tell them how much you love them once they are gone. To forever live under the guilt of words unspoken keeps you in a world of regret. “If only I had done this” or “if only I hadn’t said that” are destructive thoughts because you can’t go back and change it. You can, however, determine not to let another day go by without telling a loved one how much you love them.
You cannot make a parent acknowledge their injustice to you if they don’t see it. You cannot make someone see what they don’t see or don’t want to see. After you become a parent, you may decide your parents just did the best they could so you will love them anyway. Either way you can definitely be determined not to make the same mistakes with your own children. If your parents were abusive, you may decide to sever your relationship with them.
You cannot force people to love you. If they don’t love you, then let them go. Who wants to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t care for you? Decide what you can learn from the situation and move on.
You cannot make people tell you what is bothering them if they refuse to talk to you. If you have apologized for what you’ve done or what they think you’ve done, then what more can you do? In the future, choose friends who care as much about how you feel as you care about how they feel.
Closure is not about altering the past. Closure is not about changing others. Closure is not about pretending bad things didn’t happen. Closure does not mean something disappears. Closure doesn’t mean you block out a painful memory. True closure is about moving on. And in order to move forward, we need to let go of things in our past that would prevent that – things that hold us captive like guilt, regret, unfulfilled expectations, loss, or whatever it is that keeps us thinking we can’t be happy unless we get what we want.
Sometimes this kind of closure seems impossible, but with Christ all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). In Philippians 3:11-13, Paul says he knows he falls short in being the ideal Christian but through Christ he is able to let go of what lies in the past and move towards what God holds for him in the future. We need to press forward.
Consider this…If we are moving forward, we will have to leave some things behind. One of those things may have to be our idea of closure.
One final thought…We think closure brings peace. Actually, only God can give us peace.