Mistakes lead to learning, which turns to wisdom

by Carol Shirk Knapp
| July 22, 2020 1:00 AM

Recently there was a write-up on the one thing it will take, according to a former royal press secretary, for Prince William and Prince Harry to come together again as brothers. And that is for Harry to move back to the UK. This person went on to say he hoped they could repair the relationship because “there shouldn’t be bad blood among brothers”...and they’ve “been through a lot, and they’ve carried each other”...and “to have a rift is not healthy in any family.”

I took particular note of this because I had just sweated through righting a relationship with my sister-in-law. When she and her husband—from Spokane—bought property a month ago just a football field distance away from where Terry and I reside I was confused by my unexpected resistance to them becoming our part-time neighbors. They are wonderful people—and we always have a good time together.

Yet I found myself resentful and unwelcoming every weekend they came up to work on the property. It got steadily worse until I could hardly live in my own skin. I had to rearrange my attitude.

I spoke with a friend whose advice was to “peel back the layers”--one at a time—to find out why I was feeling this way in order to get to the root issue. When I did this I found there were two specific incidents going back two and three years when I had felt encroached upon by my sister-in-law. These had happened away from home, and now I was wary of this repeating on my own turf with her near by.

Because I had this narrative going I conformed every little thing over the last month to fit the narrative. Silently I accused her of overstepping. I became more and more distant. And I could tell from her behavior she was aware of—and bothered by—this.

Once I discovered the problem I knew I needed to tell her. I sat beneath the pines on her property and confessed my attitude and what the root of it was. I admitted I was wrong not to have addressed those past scenarios when they happened. And I was very wrong to have let recent interactions build on those hidden resentments until I began cutting us both off from our friendship.

What a huge relief it was to acknowledge the root problem—and my mistakes in dealing with it. The invisible—but just as weighty—anchor I was dragging around broke free and disappeared. She heard me out and we talked about how to move forward together as family.

I invited her and my brother-in-law for pizza the next weekend when our teen granddaughter and her friend would be visiting. I let her know Terry and I were eager to share “life on the mountain” with them. And I meant every word.

A bonus emerged when I had the chance around the kitchen table to share with the visiting teens this concept of “peeling back the layers” to discover the truth about why we feel what we feel. And then doing what we can to make right things right.

The girls went off to a local beach the next day and informed me that evening they’d spent time ”peeling back the layers”—to resolve a problem one of them had.

That’s how it works sometimes. Mistakes lead to learning—learning leads to wisdom—wisdom is shared—relationships are restored. Maybe beneath the pines...maybe at a kitchen table...maybe on a beach...maybe in a royal court.

Let’s hope.